Of all the different vision problems, astigmatism is perhaps the one that’s the most misunderstood. It sounds as though you have some horrid eye disease, but it’s really just about the shape of your eye. This eye disorder involves a refractive error, just as farsightedness and nearsightedness does. In other words, it doesn’t have to do with the eye health, but how an eye focuses light. An eye with astigmatism is more oval/oblong shaped, rather than a round, ball shape (think football versus basketball).
An eye that has astigmatism fails to have light focused on the retina. As a result, clear vision is compromised. If you think you may have astigmatism, it’s critical you recognize the common symptoms and get an eye exam for this problem.
Symptoms of Astigmatism
There are some common symptoms that are linked with astigmatism, which include:
- Blurred or distorted vision
- Eye strain
- Headaches, particularly after doing long, drawn-out visual tasks such as driving for more than an hour or prolonged reading
Ways your Optometrist can Assess Astigmatism
There are many components to a routine eye exam and your optometrist will likely use some of these techniques during your exam.
Retinoscopy— performed behind a device called a phoropter, this test involves your optometrist shining a light in your eye to see how the light reflects on the back of the eye.
Auto-refractor—This is similar to the retinoscopy exam. The only difference is that data is captured and recorded by electronics.
Keratometry—In this eye exam, your eye specialist shines a circular shape into your eye and then examines the reflection. An oval reflection indicates astigmatism. Your doctor learns more about your astigmatism by the orientation and shape of the oval reflection.
Clock dial—This eye test is subjective and entails showing a wagon wheel-like image. Some of the spokes of the wheel appear darker if you have astigmatism.
Cross cylinder test—Your eye specialist asks to choose the clearer of two images.
- Optometrists and other eye specialists know how to relax their patients while taking eye exams so that they get correct results for eyeglass prescriptions.
- Even though your correction for astigmatism is correct, you still may need some time to adjust to your new prescription eyeglasses. Your brain is responsible for interpreting the information if received from your eyes. It is used to expecting this information a certain way and your new prescription challenges that. It’s totally normal to take time to adapt to changes to your prescription.
- If you’re not experiencing significant vision problems and you have only a mild astigmatism, you may not even need prescription eyeglasses or contacts.
- On the other hand, consider that often people with astigmatism are also farsighted or nearsighted. An astigmatism correction can mean simply including this additional prescription to your existing eyeglass prescription.
- When you first get glasses that correct for astigmatism, you might notice people are taller or shorter than they were before. You might feel like you’re walking up or down hill. Your dinner plates might look oval instead of round. This is completely normal and will disappear in as little as a few hours, to a week or more. Be patient with your body.
Once your astigmatism is corrected and you have the right eyeglasses you’ll start enjoying clearer and better vision. If you think you may have Astigmatism, or have any other eye concerns book an appointment with one of our Optometrists.