NHS website

Astigmatism

Astigmatism is a common and usually minor condition of the eye that causes blurred or distorted vision.

3 October 2018

Introduction

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

What is astigmatism?

Astigmatism means your eye is shaped more like a rugby ball than a football, so light is focused at more than one 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 occurs alongside short sight ↗ or long sight ↗.

In young children, a high astigmatism may cause lazy eye ↗. It's important this is spotted early so it can be treated.

Important

Take your child for regular eye tests ↗ – astigmatism, as well as short sight or long sight, may affect their reading or concentration.

Find an opticians ↗

What you can do for astigmatism

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

Ways to correct astigmatism 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 types; preferred by active people; may be free or discounted on the NHS may not be suitable for everyone; risk of eye infection through poor contact lens hygiene ↗
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