What Is Astigmatism?

Image of family wearing glasses.

Astigmatism is an extremely common eye condition that affects both children and adults. It occurs when there is an imperfection in some part of your cornea, the clear tissue that covers your iris. Light rays pass through the cornea as they travel to the retina, a thin layer of cells at the back of your eye. The retina turns light rays into impulses that are transmitted to your brain, which interprets them as images.

Normally, the cornea is completely round. If you have astigmatism, some parts of your cornea may be rounder than others, which can cause a distortion in the way light rays focus on your retina. Astigmatism is considered a refractive error because it affects the way your eyes refract, or bend, light. It often occurs in conjunction with other refractive errors, such as nearsightedness or farsightedness.

Symptoms of Astigmatism

Common symptoms of astigmatism include:

  • Blurred or distorted vision
  • Trouble seeing clearly when driving at night
  • Squinting
  • Eyestrain
  • Headaches

If you have a mild case of astigmatism, you may not notice any changes in your vision.

Diagnosing Astigmatism

Many of the symptoms of astigmatism, such as blurred vision and eyestrain, can also occur if you need glasses or you already have glasses or contacts, but your eyes have gotten worse. Luckily, astigmatism can be easily spotted during an eye examination.

During the examination, your visual acuity will be measured based on your ability to read letters or numbers on an eye chart. The focusing power of your eyes will also be determined, and an instrument called a keratometer may be used to measure the curvature of your cornea. These tests help eye care professionals determine if you have astigmatism.

Treating Astigmatism

Eyeglasses will help improve your vision if you have been diagnosed with astigmatism. Although you probably will not be able to notice any difference just by looking at your new glasses, a subtle change in your lenses will allow you to see better. Glasses improve vision in people with astigmatism because the lens power is increased in a small area of a lens to compensate for the imperfection in your cornea. Some people with astigmatism feel that contacts offer better vision than glasses, but either option will help improve your eyesight.

Reshaping the cornea can alleviate astigmatism temporarily or permanently. Special contact lenses that are worn overnight change the shape of the cornea, allowing you to see clearly during the day. However, if you stop wearing the lenses at night, your symptoms will return. Two types of laser surgery, LASIK and photoreactive keratectomy (PRK), permanently reshape the cornea but may have associated risks.

Helping you make the most of your vision is our priority. If it's been awhile since we have seen you, call us today to schedule an appointment.

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Culpeper Office

Monday:

10:00 am-6:00 pm

Tuesday:

Closed

Wednesday:

10:00 am-6:00 pm

Thursday:

10:00 am-6:00 pm

Friday:

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Saturday:

10:00 am-3:00 pm

Sunday:

Closed

King George Office

Monday:

Closed

Tuesday:

10:00 am-6:00 pm

Wednesday:

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Thursday:

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Friday:

10:00 am-6:00 pm

Saturday:

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Sunday:

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Testimonials

Reviews From Our Satisfied Patients

  • "Dr. Press CARES about his patients, insurance or not AND he is the most thorough eye doctor I have ever been to. The prescription he gave me, made me see correctly, once again, I am so thankful. Dr Press and his staff are great!"
    Katrin H
  • "I'm so glad I changed eye doctors. I had been going to Dr. H by the hospital for a long time and he had given me a prescription for contacts that I tried and tried to wear with no success. Dr. Press gave the right "size" contacts and was able to walk out wearing the contacts with no problem! He has great manners and even took my blood pressure! Glad to have finally found a knowledgeable Optometrist I can SEE in a regular basis."
    Ines P
  • "I recently needed to change my vision prescription and was finally in need of bifocals. I went to see Dr. Miles Press for both convenience (local eye doctor) and because he accepted my insurance. I needed to have vision in my right eye adjusted several times, and several right lenses replaced. Dr.Miles Press worked tirelessly to make sure my vision was correct and I was never charged for each subsequent visit or lens replacement. I've never had an eye doctor like that before, that really cares and is fast and on the ball with knowledge to get you the correct prescription. He also cared that I went with Progressive lenses over bifocals because they provide three fields of view and eliminate the annoying line. To sum it up, an eye doctor that treats you like he would his own family is a rare experience. I will continue to go to Dr. Miles Press as long as he is in business and accepts my insurance. No question."
    Thomas C
  • "I didn't know my vision could change, and I also didn't know that I could see the world more clearly than how I was already seeing it! Dr. Press was professional and very helpful and educating! Highly recommend!"
    Karla N
  • "Dr. Miles Press was very professional, knowledgeable, and friendly. He explained a lot about my eye care that no Dr. has ever taken the time to do."
    Wendy S