Astigmatism 101

Paper with words astigmatism, glasses and container for lenses. Selective focus.
Have you or someone you know recently been diagnosed with astigmatism by an optometrist in Lancaster, PA? You probably have a lot of questions or concerns about this vision condition. The first of which usually is, “What is astigmatism?”

While you may be under the impression that astigmatism is an ailment or illness, it’s not. Astigmatism is a prevalent eye condition that’s simply a “refractive error.”

When you have astigmatism, it means there is a slight imperfection in the curvature of the cornea of your eye. In other words, it isn’t perfectly round. While a perfectly curved cornea will reflect light rays onto the retina at the back of the eye, astigmatism causes these light rays to refract improperly, resulting in blurred or distorted vision.

In the following article, we’ll go over just what causes astigmatism, how it’s diagnosed, and how to treat it. But above all else, if you’re having vision problems and suspect astigmatism—please schedule an eye exam with your eye doctor today!

What Causes Astigmatism?

Unfortunately, the precise cause of astigmatism is unknown. But what we do know is it seems to correlate with other eye conditions. Astigmatism typically develops as you age and is often prevalent before the onset of cataracts. You can also be born with inherited astigmatism, or it may be a reaction to eye surgery or an eye injury.

Types of astigmatism include:

Regular corneal astigmatism is the most common type of astigmatism. Typically genetic, it occurs when the cornea is oval-shaped.

Irregular corneal astigmatism may result from:

  • An eye injury
  • Certain eye surgeries
  • Keratoconus—a rare ocular disease that causes thinning of the cornea. Patients may require cornea replacement surgery to treat severe keratoconus-related astigmatism once the condition has advanced.

Lenticular astigmatism is caused by an abnormality in the curvature of the eye lens.

How Is Astigmatism Diagnosed?

You’ll need to see your optometrist or ophthalmologist to receive a proper diagnosis. During a comprehensive eye exam, they’ll check your visual acuity.

Your eye doctor will also assess the surface, shape, and size of your cornea and lens. A refraction test may also be done to examine the focusing power of your eyes. These tests will help your eye doctors to establish the severity of your astigmatism.

What Are Your Treatment Options?

Despite its somewhat intimidating name, astigmatism is a common condition, and it can be successfully treated using corrective lenses or surgical intervention.


Eyeglasses remain the most common corrective measure for people with astigmatism. These may be single-focus, or in the case with presbyopia, progressive lenses that address multiple distance viewing issues.

Contact Lenses

Contact lenses used for the correction of astigmatism are called “toric” lenses. Contact lenses have an advantage over glasses because they can physically correct the cornea’s shape, provided they are gas permeable or rigid lenses.

Soft disposable contact lenses can be used if you have mild or regular astigmatism. Still, they’re not always as effective because they adjust to the cornea’s shape instead of reshaping them. So, for higher levels or irregular astigmatism, hard RGP lenses or scleral lenses might be necessary.

Refractive Laser Surgery

Surgical intervention from laser treatments, such as LASIK or PRK, are procedures that reshape the cornea by removing the inner tissue. Laser surgery is a permanent solution that can fully correct moderate to severe astigmatism. For patients over the age of 20, whose corrective eyewear is insufficient in treating their astigmatism or who dislike wearing their eyeglasses or contacts, a doctor may recommend these procedures.

What Are My Next Steps If I’m Having Vision Problems and Suspect Astigmatism?

If you think you have any type of vision problem, including astigmatism, don’t hesitate to have a comprehensive eye evaluation performed by an optometrist in Lancaster, PA. Here at Campus Eye Center, we are home to some of the best eye doctors in the region!

Get in touch to schedule an eye exam with Campus Eye Center today. Our doctors can help you detect and treat your astigmatism or other eye diseases so that you can live better by seeing better.