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February 18, 2010 - Rodney Smith
“What is astigmatism?” is a question I hear quite often.

Actually, a question I hear quite often is “What is 'stigmatism?” However, that is not correct: It is “astigmatism” and not “'stigmatism.”

Astigmatism is very common- probably 30% or more of people have it- and it is not nearly as bad as perhaps it might sound.

It isn't so much a vision problem, as it is a structural problem. It is generally described like this: the cornea- the front part of the eye- is generally shaped like a sphere. With astigmatism, the cornea is more oval-shaped, like a football. This misshapen cornea does not allow light to properly focus on the retina.

People with uncorrected astigmatism have vision that is generally blurry both up close and far away. In contrast, near-sighted people generally have good near vision (but bad distance vision). And far-sighted people often have good distance vision (but poor near vision). Again, people with astigmatism have vision that is blurry at all distances. And this causes them to often feel tired after reading and frequently letters and words appear to be slanted. Squinting often causes the vision to be better, but is hardly a practical way to live. Determining if somebody has an astigmatism is very easy to do and isn't something that is missed or misdiagnosed. And even slight cases of astigmatism can be detected and quantified with just a simple eye exam. There are surgical options- like LASIK- that can reshape the cornea and permanently correct the astigmatism. However, glasses or contact lenses are generally prescribed to treat the astigmatism. Many believe that because they have an astigmatism that they cannot wear contact lenses. This is rarely true. There is generally a contact lens available to correct even the highest amounts of astigmatism.

If you have any questions, or think you might be a good candidate for contact lenses, do not hesitate to give me a call.

Dr. Smith practices inside Target in Cape Coral and can be reached at (239) 573-4743 or


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