Eye Exams - Eye Conditions

Astigmatism - Blurred Vision and Tired Eyes

Why do things look blurry?
Astigmatism is a very common focusing error of the eyes which causes blur. It is caused by the shape of the eye, usually due to the cornea’s surface or occasionally due to the eyes lens being tilted. Sometimes astigmatism can be inherited but it often happens as a normal characteristic of growth.

Blur from astigmatism is not like that from myopia where all of an image is equally blurred, because some parts of the image are more out of focus than others.  The blur of astigmatism makes things uncomfortable to look at, difficult to focus and may cause headaches, tiredness and poor concentration.

What about tired eyes?
Astigmatism can also result in fatigued eyes, especially if you are concentrating on anything for a long period of time, whether looking up close (for example, studying or computer use) or in the distance (for example, driving). This is because astigmatism affects objects seen at all distances, from close reading through to desk and  computer use, to television and driving. The eyes tire if they focus back and forth between two slightly different images, trying to find the best compromise. Fatigue also occurs if the person tries to “screw up” their eyes to see better as the muscles of the eyelids and face become uncomfortable.

How can glasses help?
Even if a person sees quite well, eye comfort, visual efficiency and ease of seeing is improved with the astigmatism corrected. Spectacles or contact lenses can correct for the difference in focus in various parts of the image – sometimes they need to be worn all the time and sometimes only when concentrating on a specific task. A  new prescription correcting astigmatism can sometimes be uncomfortable to wear initially, because it alters the distorted blur that you have become used to. Some people notice that walls or tables slope, or that objects can appear to be odd shapes (a round plate might look oval, for example). Most people adjust well and are very comfortable in a few days, but some people need to trade off clarity for comfort. Your Optometrist will be able to discuss this with you.

What should I do?
To sum up, astigmatism is a common condition of eye shape, not a disease. It can be detected and treated with an eye examination and compensated for by spectacles or contact lenses. If left untreated, astigmatism can cause blurred vision or eye fatigue or headaches, giving considerable discomfort and stress.

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