Astigmatism is a common vision problem that is unique because it can cause nearsightedness, farsightedness, or both. When you come in for a complete eye examination at the Eye Care Center of Kauai, in Lihue, Hawaii, the doctors will determine exactly how astigmatism affects your eyes, then talk about whether correcting the problem with eyeglasses, contact lenses, or surgery will work best for you.

request an appointment

What is astigmatism?

When light reaches your eye, the cornea (the clear, round dome covering the pupil) refracts the light, bending it so that it’s focused on the lens. The lens then directs the light to a very precise spot on the retina and the retina converts light rays into energy that travels to the brain.

Astigmatism is a refractive error in which light isn’t properly focused on the retina. The light ends up hitting several spots on the retina, focusing in front of the retina, behind the retina, or both. As a result, you don’t have clear vision.

What causes astigmatism?

Astigmatism is usually caused by a misshapen cornea, but it can also be due to a change in the shape of the lens. Normally, both structures are curved equally in all directions. When the cornea is elongated, or shaped like a football instead of its typical round shape, the light bends at different angles, depending on where it strikes the cornea. This tends to scatter the light rather than focusing it to properly hit the lens or retina.

How does astigmatism affect vision?

Since more than one ray of light reaches the retina, and the light can hit various locations inside the eye, astigmatism can cause nearsightedness, farsightedness, or both. You may experience blurry vision or areas of distorted vision. It may also cause eyestrain, headaches, or general eye discomfort, especially after reading. It often occurs in children, who probably won’t realize they have a vision problem. That’s why regular eye examinations are an important tool for finding and correcting vision problems in children.

How is astigmatism treated?

Astigmatism can be corrected with eyeglasses, contact lenses, or refractive surgery. Prescriptions for eyeglasses and contact lenses are written so that they correct the multiple refractive errors found in your eyes during a complete eye examination.

Some of the specialized treatments for astigmatism available at the Eye Care Center of Kauai include:

Laser surgery
Advanced laser surgery, such as LASIK, offers precise treatment of astigmatism by correcting the shape of the cornea. Laser surgery also utilizes wavefront technology, which maps the eye to create a custom profile showing where to make changes.

Toric contact lenses
Soft contact lenses engineered to correct nearsightedness and farsightedness.

Gas permeable contact lenses
Gas permeable contact lenses are rigid so they retain their shape and essentially replace the misshapen cornea as the primary light-bending device.

Hybrid contact lenses
Hybrid contact lenses have a central lens made of rigid gas permeable material surrounded by a soft-fitting zone.