Should you Wear Glasses for Astigmatism: Astigmatism 101 [Let’s talk science]

Chances are you had your eye exam and you are told that you have astigmatism. This is the case for most people searching if they should wear or not. Will wearing or not wearing affect their vision? Regardless of the reason for checking this post, this article is for you as I have made some research into scientific journals to come up with an answer.

As a general rule, astigmatism should be corrected with glasses if: It affects your quality of life, your work demands attention to detail, and you are experiencing discomforts such as headache and nausea. Other than that, it is safe if you decide not to wear eyeglasses.

In fact, a research study titled: “Reduction of Astigmatism after Infancy in Children Who Did and Did Not Wear Glasses and Have Strabismus.” concluded that glasses have no correlation with astigmatism. It doesn’t matter if you wear glasses or not, it will not increase or decrease your astigmatism anyway.

Source: Ingram, R.M., et al. “Reduction of Astigmatism after Infancy in Children Who Did and Did Not Wear Glasses and Have Strabismus.” Strabismus, vol. 9, no. 3, 2001, pp. 129–135., doi:10.1076/stra.

Does astigmatism need to be corrected?

If you have astigmatism of 1.00 D and more, maybe it is time to start thinking of wearing glasses. Research presented in the World Opthalmology Congress concluded that in their study, astigmatism as little as 1.00 Diopters can cause a significant difference in a person’s quality of life.

Texts will be doubled, lines will also be doubled, you will experience too much squinting just to see texts, discomforts such as dizziness and poor night vision are some of the symptoms of astigmatism. Once you have a high level of astigmatism, then you may opt out of a pair of glasses

Source: Wolffsohn, James S., et al. “Effect of Uncorrected Astigmatism on Vision.” Journal of Cataract and Refractive Surgery, vol. 37, no. 3, 2011, pp. 454–60. Crossref, doi:10.1016/j.jcrs.2010.09.022.

Furthermore, here is a table showing the levels of astigmatism and their corresponding diopters

Astigmatism DioptersLevel of Astigmatism
<0.6 DioptersNormal
0.6 – 2.0 DioptersMild Astigmatism
2.0 – 4.0 DioptersModerate Astigmatism
>4.0Severe Astigmatism
A table showing the levels of astigmatism

As shown in the table, <0.6 diopters are considered normal. In fact, 1/3 of the people in just the US alone have astigmatism. Some people are even born with it and some develop astigmatism through aging, trauma, and even surgery.

In fact, research conducted in the Journal of Cataract & Refractive Surgery concluded that even small cataract incisions can cause astigmatism.

Source: Shepherd, John R. “Induced Astigmatism in Small Incision Cataract Surgery.” Journal of Cataract and Refractive Surgery, vol. 15, no. 1, 1989, pp. 85–88. Crossref, doi:10.1016/s0886-3350(89)80145-2.

This is because astigmatism can be caused by an irregular curvature on your eyeball. This can refract light in a different direction. Because light is not refracted properly, people with astigmatism have really bad night vision.

The irregular curvature can be caused by surgery, trauma, growing eyeballs and it may even be present at birth.

For more information on what people with astigmatism see, check this article out: What do people with astigmatism see.

How much astigmatism is bad?

More than 4.0 Diopters is considered as severe astigmatism people with this condition will find it really hard to look at texts and lines because they will appear very blurry in all distances. Furthermore, people with this level of eyesight will find it extremely hard to work at night. Without correction, this will be considered as bad.

Astigmatism in DioptersLevel of Astigmatism
<0.6 DioptersNormal
0.6 – 2.0 DioptersMild Astigmatism
2.0 – 4.0 DioptersModerate Astigmatism
>4.0 DioptersSevere Astigmatism

As the table shows, even 0.6 Diopters in astigmatism are considered normal. Only if it reaches 0.6 above will it be considered mild.

That’s why the research paper published in The World Opthalmology Congress concluded that at 1.00 Diopters, it will be the start of people having trouble and will have reduced quality in their lives.

Thus, it might be time to start thinking of wearing glasses if you have 1.00 diopters or more.

Other than that, if you don’t have a job in which attention to detail is necessary such as in the media, encoding, and many more, you can choose not to wear one as there is no significant correlation between increased astigmatism and glasses.

At what point should Astigmatism be corrected?

You should start wearing glasses if your astigmatism is 1.00 diopters or higher. Astigmatism of greater than 1.0 diopters according to The World Opthalmology Congress produces a significant reduction in a person’s quality of life. This means that at this level, people will start to miss the details in things, they will be having a hard time reading texts at all distances and produce a significant change in their night vision.

Moreover, if you are experiencing discomforts such as headaches, dizziness, and nausea, it is time to get an eye check to get an accurate reading of your astigmatism. This will help a lot since, in actuality, the double vision caused by astigmatism is really stressful to the eyes especially on high eye grades.

What causes astigmatism to get worse?

The most common cause of astigmatism is actually a growing eyeball. As a person grows up, so are their eyeballs. This increase in size also affects the curvature of the eyes. The change in the curvature is what causes astigmatism. More causes of astigmatism include Trauma, Surgery, Complication, and Genetics.

Causes of Astigmatism

  • Injuries
  • Surgery
  • Complication to other disease
  • Genetics
  • Aging Process

Trauma and surgery can cause astigmatism as there is a chance that it will change the curvature of the eyes due to damage. In fact, it is one of the risk factors of surgery as explained by the research article “Small Incision Cataract Surgery.” by the Journal of Cataract and Refractive Surgery, even a small incision can cause astigmatism.

“You don’t want the doctor who says, ‘This is absolutely guaranteed to work. That’s a big red flag.”

Jennifer Ling, MD, clinical assistant professor, University of Iowa (talking about the lost of of Vision in Vision Chart after surgery)

How can I fix my astigmatism naturally?

As of now, there are no scientifically proven methods in curing eyesight naturally. But there is a concept called hormesis in which you force your eyes to get better by inducing a little stress in them. It trains your eyes to be stronger the longer you do it.

Source: Rattan, Suresh I. S. “Hormesis in Aging.” Ageing Research Reviews, vol. 7, no. 1, 2008, pp. 63–78. Crossref, doi:10.1016/j.arr.2007.03.002.

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