Astigmatism

  • Medical Author:
    Andrew A. Dahl, MD, FACS

    Andrew A. Dahl, MD, is a board-certified ophthalmologist. Dr. Dahl's educational background includes a BA with Honors and Distinction from Wesleyan University, Middletown, CT, and an MD from Cornell University, where he was selected for Alpha Omega Alpha, the national medical honor society. He had an internal medical internship at the New York Hospital/Cornell Medical Center.

  • Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

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What are signs of astigmatism?

Astigmatism is detected by an ophthalmologist by either checking for the need for glasses (refraction) or actually measuring the curvature of the front of the cornea by using a keratometer or corneal topography machine. These tests are noninvasive and painless.

What tests are used to diagnose astigmatism?

The diagnosis of astigmatism is easily and painlessly made during the course of a complete eye examination. This would include a refraction (measuring the eyes for the need for glasses), an examination with a slit lamp, and measurements of the curvature of the corneas using various forms of light and computer algorithms.

What is the treatment for astigmatism?

Many patients with mild astigmatism have no symptoms from this and require no treatment. If there is regular astigmatism and it causes blurred vision, the astigmatism can be compensated for satisfactorily with eyeglasses or contact lenses. If myopia or hyperopia are also present, the glasses or contact lenses can also correct that condition. If the astigmatism is irregular or of a high degree, glasses or a soft contact lens may not fully correct the astigmatism and a hard (rigid) contact lens may be necessary to allow the eye to see normally. Neither glasses nor contact lenses permanently correct the curvature abnormality.

Modern refractive surgery, which reshapes the surface of the eye with a laser, can also be used to reduce or eliminate the astigmatism. Wavefront guided LASIK or photorefractive keratectomy (PRK) can also reduce irregular astigmatism. Various considerations involving ocular health, refractive status, and lifestyle frequently determine whether one option may be better than another.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/20/2015
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