Astigmatism -2

Astigmatism is a condition in which the cornea of the eye is asymmetrically curved, causing out-of-focus vision.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

The cause of astigmatism is unknown. It is usually present from birth, and often occurs together with nearsightedness or farsightedness. A minor degree of astigmatism is considered normal and does not require correction. Astigmatism is very common.


Difficulty in seeing fine detail, either close-up or from a distance.

Signs and tests

Astigmatism is easily diagnosed by a standard ophthalmic exam with refraction test. Special tests are not usually required. Children or others who cannot respond to questions can have their refractive error measured by a test using reflected light called retinoscopy.


Glasses or hard contact lenses will correct astigmatism. Soft contact lenses do not work as well.

Expectations (prognosis)

Vision is usually normal with the correct glasses or contact lenses.


  • There are complications associated with contact lenses (including the risk of corneal abrasion), which may develop if contact lenses are used.  
  • Unequal astigmatism may cause Amblyopia.

Calling your health care provider

Call for an appointment with the health care provider or ophthalmologist if vision problems worsen or do not improve with glasses or contact lenses.

Johns Hopkins patient information

Last revised: December 5, 2012
by David A. Scott, M.D.

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