living with astigmatism

Astigmatism is a common vision problem that affects about one in three people.This happens when the cornea, or the lens of the eye, has an irregularly shaped curvature. This prevents light from being evenly focused on the retina.

Astigmatism can cause blurred or distorted vision, headaches, and eye strain. With astigmatism, you may see more glare at night, which can make driving difficult. If you’ve been diagnosed with astigmatism, there are ways to relieve your symptoms and improve your night vision.

How Astigmatism Affects Vision

The cornea and lens bend and focus light onto the retina, the light-sensitive surface at the back of the eye that allows you to see. If you have astigmatism, the cornea or lens are irregularly shaped. It may be more shaped like a football than a rounded surface. This shape prevents light from being properly focused on the retina, resulting in blurred and distorted vision.At night, your eyes dilate to let in more light, which can cause glare and halos around street lights and headlights.

Some cases of astigmatism are mild and do not require any treatment. Moderate or severe cases often require some treatment to see clearly, which may include wearing glasses, contact lenses, or corrective surgery.

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Focus on your vision

Consult your optometrist or ophthalmologist if you have problems with night vision or driving at night. They can do an eye exam to see if your problem is caused by astigmatism or another eye condition.

If you have been diagnosed with astigmatism, your eye doctor may recommend the following treatment strategies:

  • Toric or breathable contact lenses: If you wear contact lenses and have at least moderate astigmatism, your healthcare provider may recommend toric or breathable lenses instead of soft lenses. Toric contact lenses have different powers around the lens to correct astigmatism, and are shaped to prevent them from rotating. A 2019 study tested 60 participants with astigmatism and found that those who wore toric contact lenses had better vision and less eye strain than those who received spherical lenses. Breathable lenses have also been found to improve vision in astigmatism. They have a rigid shape that compensates for the irregular curvature of your eyes.
  • Anti-glare coating for glasses: If you wear glasses, choose glasses with an anti-reflective (anti-glare) coating. This coating reduces – and in some cases eliminates – the unwanted glare, halos and odd reflections you might see at night.
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Yellow glasses used for night driving have not been found to be effective and may make your vision worse. A 2019 study found that yellow lens night driving glasses did not improve road visibility for participants or reduce headlight glare from other vehicles.Glasses are designed to reduce the amount of light reaching the eyes, which can actually make it harder to see at night.

  • Eye drops: If you wear contact lenses, be prepared to re-moisten eye drops at all times, especially when driving at night. Dryness can affect not only the comfort of contact lenses, but also vision. If you wear soft toric lenses, when your eyes dry, they rotate, which affects their clarity. You can find over-the-counter remoisturizing drops specifically for use with breathable contact lenses or soft lenses. Check the packaging to make sure the product is safe to use with contact lenses. If you are unsure or need advice, please consult your ophthalmologist.
  • Surgery: If you want to permanently correct astigmatism, discuss the surgical procedures available with your eye doctor. LASIK eye surgery can correct astigmatism by removing tissue from the lining of the cornea. If you’re not a candidate for LASIK surgery, another option is PRK (refractive keratectomy), which reshapes the eye by removing tissue from the top and inner layers of the cornea.
  • Orthokeratology: Also known as Ortho-k, these rigid contacts help to temporarily reshape the cornea. Contact lenses are usually worn at night and removed in the morning. If worn regularly, they can correct moderate astigmatism. If you stop wearing contact lenses, your eye shape will return to its normal arc.

focus on your car

When driving at night, make sure your windows, mirrors and headlights are clear. This improves your vision and reduces the chance of light glare. Here are some tips for improving night driving visibility:

  • Clean windshields, windows and mirrors. For the best view from windshields and other windows, remember to clean both sides of the glass. There can also be fingerprints and smudges on the inside of the windows, which can increase the glare of the lights when driving at night. Wipe down your mirrors and mirrors to make sure you can see from all directions.
  • Service the windshield wipers. When windshield wiper blades wear out, they leave smudges and smudges that make it harder to see the front window. Make sure to replace the blades regularly, especially if you find that they are not working properly. Ideally, you should replace it every 6 to 12 months.
  • Clean the headlights. Remove dirt from your car’s headlights to help illuminate your view of the road and ahead.If your headlights are particularly cloudy, you might consider having them repaired by a professional or purchasing a headlight cleaning kit from an auto parts store.
  • Use the night setting on the mirror. This setting helps reduce glare from the headlights of cars behind you. Instructions on how to do this will vary depending on the make and model of your car, so check your manual for instructions.

VigorTip words

To help improve your night vision, be sure to have your eyes checked regularly by an optometrist or ophthalmologist. They can give you a complete test to diagnose astigmatism or any other condition that is difficult to see at night. If your astigmatism gets worse between annual checkups, make an appointment with your healthcare provider to discuss different treatment options.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Is astigmatism worse at night?

    No, but it might look like. Astigmatism occurs when the cornea is irregularly shaped, preventing light from being evenly focused on the retina. This causes visual distortions and glare around lights. While astigmatism doesn’t worsen at night, lights can make it harder to see after dark.

  • Can glasses correct astigmatism?

    Yes, prescription glasses or contact lenses can correct astigmatism. You can tell if your eyeglass prescription corrects astigmatism by looking at the cylinder or CYL. Cylinder refers to the added power of the lens to correct astigmatism and account for the deformed curvature of the eye.

  • Can laser surgery correct astigmatism?

    Yes, laser eye surgery can correct astigmatism by reshaping the cornea to be more spherical. This can permanently correct the problem and eliminate the need for glasses or contact lenses for most people.