What exactly is astigmatism?

Dr Stephen Taylor

Question: What exactly is astigmatism?

Answer: This is a very common question and is one of the most misunderstood terms. Patients often describe that their eye is shaped like a football or is egg shaped.

Simply put, astigmatism is a long word for “the front of my eye (cornea) isn’t perfectly round”. That out of round causes distortion and that distortion of focus is interpreted by the brain as blurred vision. The blurred vision can occur at all distances and may result in significant eyestrain and discomfort.

Most of us don’t have a perfectly spherical cornea that is shaped like a marble. Small amounts of astigmatism are more the norm and minor vision imperfections will often go unnoticed. However, when the out of round of the cornea is more pronounced then the vision will be blurred and correction with prescription glasses or contact lenses will be necessary to see clearly and comfortably.

When significant astigmatism is corrected for the first time patients will often note that their new prescription is clear, but seems “off”. This is normal and luckily the brain adjusts to this fairly quickly, and most often within a week you’ll be seeing better than you ever have!