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  • Writer's pictureAtanas Bogoev M.D. and Maria Cholakova

Life with Astigmatism: What It's Like to live with blurry and distorted vision?

Updated: Jul 28, 2023

Astigmatism has a significant impact on individuals' perception of the world around them. From blurry vision to distorted shapes and colors, astigmatism affects various aspects of daily life for people who suffer from it.

In this publication, we will explore what life with astigmatism is like. We will also explore how the world looks and feels for those with the condition. If you are curious about what people with astigmatism see and experience, read ahead.

Learn About Astigmatism

Before we talk about life with astigmatism, we would like to tell you a bit more about it.

Astigmatism is a refractive error that affects the way light enters the eye. Rather than focusing on a single point on the retina, as it does in a healthy eye, the light is scattered across multiple points.

Symptoms of Astigmatism

The symptoms of astigmatism vary. Most people experience life with the condition differently. Common signs include blurry or distorted vision, eye strain, headaches, and difficulty seeing at night. In some cases, astigmatism may also cause sensitivity to light, double vision, or eye fatigue.

Diagnosing Astigmatism

If you are experiencing any of the symptoms of astigmatism, make sure to see an eye doctor for an eye exam. During the exam, your ophthalmologist will use a variety of tests to determine whether you have astigmatism and how severe it is. This may include a visual acuity test, a corneal topography test, or a retinoscopy exam.

Astigmatism Treatment

There are many astigmatism treatment options available. What works for a certain patient depends on the severity of the condition. In some cases, corrective lenses, such as glasses or contact lenses are the easiest way to improve vision. In more severe cases, the person living with astigmatism may require surgery to reshape the cornea or replace the lens in the eye.

Graph showing what causes astigmatism by Ophthalmology24

How Astigmatism Affects Vision

Astigmatism causes light to scatter across multiple points rather than focusing on a single point on the retina.

As a result, individuals often experience vision distortion and blurriness. Particularly when looking at objects at a distance or in low-light settings. Text and shapes may appear skewed, and colors may seem less vivid or muted.

The Challenges of Living with Astigmatism

Living with astigmatism can present unique challenges. For example, individuals with astigmatism may have difficulty:

They may also experience eye strain and headaches, especially when focusing on a screen or reading for extended periods.

Watching Movies or Television

People who live their life with astigmatism may also find it difficult to watch movies or television. Particularly if they struggle with contrast sensitivity.

This happens because astigmatism may cause a "halo effect" around bright lights, such as those on a digital screen.

Additionally, distorted shapes and colors often make it harder to follow the plot or read subtitles. Using a larger screen, sitting closer to the screen, or adjusting screen brightness and color settings alleviates some of these discomforts.

Driving at Night

Astigmatism example night vision driving
Here is what people with mild astigmatism see when driving at night.

One of the most significant challenges in life with astigmatism is driving at night.

This is because low light conditions can make it even more difficult to focus on objects. And the glare from light emitters can exacerbate astigmatism's blurriness and distortion.

In summary, the more lights on the road at night, the blurry the vision gets. The reason is glare overload from oncoming car headlights, backlights, street lights, as well as illuminated signs and billboards.

That is why people with astigmatism may find it harder to judge distances, see clearly in their peripheral vision, and navigate through poorly lit areas.

Thus, astigmatism patients must book regular eye exams and wear corrective lenses as prescribed by an eye doctor.

Reading (Especially Small Font Text)

Another common challenge for people with astigmatism is reading. They have exceptional difficulty with small font text because from their perception it often looks fuzzy. Astigmatism often causes text blurring or distortion, making it difficult to read.

People with the condition tend to squint or move closer to the text to make it clearer. Children with astigmatism, in particular, find reading especially challenging during their learning process and school activities.

Even though squinting and moving close to the text alleviate the symptoms, they could also lead to side effects like eye strain and headaches. Using a magnifying glass, enlarging the font size, or using special assistive technologies, such as screen readers, is very helpful.

Coping Strategies for Astigmatism

While astigmatism may be a frustrating condition to live with, there are several strategies to manage its negative effects and ease eye discomfort. For example:

  • Wearing the right corrective lenses (with a prescription)

  • Adjusting screen brightness and color settings

  • Using larger fonts

  • Taking frequent breaks when reading

  • Taking frequent breaks when using digital devices

These coping strategies are bound to alleviate the eye strain and eye fatigue symptoms, accompanying astigmatism and make life a bit easier.

Living a Fulfilling Life with Astigmatism

Despite the challenges of living with astigmatism, individuals can still lead fulfilling and productive lives. Simple changes to daily routines, such as using a magnifying glass or adjusting lighting conditions, make a significant difference in improving vision and reducing symptoms.

Additionally, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, including a balanced diet, regular exercise, and adequate sleep, can improve overall eye health. This will reduce the risk of developing other eye conditions.

If you suspect that you may have astigmatism, see a doctor for an eye exam and discuss the possible astigmatism treatment options.

Checked by Atanas Bogoev, MD.

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