09 Sep Answers to 8 Questions About Astigmatism

Because most people have astigmatism to some degree, it is a common topic during routine eye exams and we get many questions about astigmatism.

Here are some of the most common questions about astigmatism that patients ask our Unionville optometrists in Markham, Ontario.

1. WHAT IS ASTIGMATISM?

Astigmatism is a common vision condition (not a disease) that affects the way your eye focuses light. The most basic astigmatism definition is a defect in the eye (or lens) caused by the surface of your eye not being perfectly round. This imperfection prevents light rays from meeting on a common focal point and causes images to be distorted to some extent.

2. WHAT CAUSES ASTIGMATISM?

Very few people have a perfectly round optical surface. Astigmatism is usually caused by an irregularly shaped cornea[1]. Rather than being round shaped like a baseball, the cornea is more the shape of a football. Astigmatism can also be caused by the shape of the lens inside the eye, which is referred to as lenticular astigmatism.

Astigmatism can either be hereditary or it can be a result of factors such as pressure of the eyelids on the cornea.

3. WHAT ARE COMMON ASTIGMATISM SYMPTOMS?

Common symptoms of astigmatism include:

  • Blurred or distorted vision
  • Eye strain
  • Headaches
  • Squinting

4. IS THERE AN ASTIGMATISM TEST I CAN GET?

During a routine eye exam your optometrist will be able to test for astigmatism using many of the same instruments and techniques they would use to diagnose near sightedness and far sightedness.

A retinoscopy can also diagnose astigmatism. This includes shining a light in your eye while introducing a number of different lenses.

In most cases, astigmatism will change over time and regular eye exams by your optometrist will ensure you have the right prescription to maintain proper vision.

5. HOW IS ASTIGMATISM CORRECTED?

Astigmatism correction and treatment options include:

  • Prescription eyeglasses
  • Contact lenses
  • Or laser eye surgery

6. CAN I WEAR CONTACTS FOR ASTIGMATISM?

Contrary to what many believe there are several great contact lens products on the market developed to help correct astigmatism. The two main types of contact lenses for astigmatism are:

  1. Soft Toric Contact Lenses
  2. Gas Permeable Contact Lenses

Toric Lenses –These have different powers in different areas of the lens to compensate for the astigmatism and will rotate to the proper orientation on the cornea.

Gas Permeable Lenses –These are rigid lenses and maintain their shape despite the shape of your eye. This essentially compensates for the irregular shape of your eye. Gas Permeable lenses typically provide sharper vision but are harder to get used to.

Other options include hybrid contact lenses and specialty contacts for astigmatism.

Read our article on Contact Lenses FAQs for more information or talk to our trusted Unionville Optometrists for the best contacts for astigmatism based on your prescription and usage.

7. IS LASER EYE SURGERY FOR ASTIGMATISM AN OPTION?

Advances in laser technology makes Lasik for astigmatism an option. Please speak with our Markham optometrist about whether laser eye surgery is right for you.

8. WHAT ABOUT ASTIGMATISM IN CHILDREN?

Child astigmatism is one of the most common vision problems in children.

Studies show that child astigmatism is very prevalent in babies between 6 months and 1 year old, however many of these young children will grow out of it. Remember that the Canadian Association of Optometrists recommends infants have their first eye exam between the ages of 6 and 9 months of age.

Do you still have questions about astigmatism including diagnosing or treating astigmatism in yourself or in your children?

Call our Unionville Optometry office in Markham, Ontario at 1-905-477-4488 to make an appointment with Dr. David Innamorato, Dr. Krista Innamorato, or Dr. Mark Innamorato.


[1] Your cornea is the transparent layer in the front of the eye that covers the iris, pupil, and anterior chamber. Together, with the chamber and lens, your cornea refracts light and is responsible for approximately 2/3 of your eyes’ total optical power.

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