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Astigmatism

View original article on NHS Choices

Astigmatism, along with short-sightedness and long-sightedness, is a common cause of blurry vision. It's usually corrected with glasses or contact lenses.

Astigmatism means your eye is shaped more like a rugby ball than a football, so light is focused at more than 1 place in the eye.

This can cause:

  • blurred vision
  • headaches
  • eye strain (you may notice this after concentrating for a long time – on a computer, for example)

Astigmatism normally happens alongside short-sightedness or long-sightedness.

Astigmatism in 1 eye may cause lazy eye (where the vision does not develop properly). It's important this is spotted early so it can be treated.

Regular eye tests for children

Take your child for regular eye tests. Astigmatism, as well as short-sightedness or long-sightedness, may affect their reading or concentration.

Find an optician

Teenagers with astigmatism should also have regular eye tests to check for an eye condition called keratoconus. This causes the cornea to change shape.

If astigmatism is affecting your eyesight, there are ways to correct it.

Treatment Pros Cons
Glasses
  • the cheapest option
  • may be available free or discounted on the NHS
  • could get lost or broken
Contact lenses
  • choice of soft or hard lenses
  • can be a good choice if you're active
  • may be free or discounted on the NHS
Laser eye or lens surgery
  • may be permanent
  • may be better for people with more severe vision problems
  • risk of complications during or after surgery
  • not available on the NHS
  • can be expensive
  • some side effects

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