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of the general population is astigmatic
More than
of short- and far-sighted people are astigmatic
Operable up to
dioptres using laser or intraocular lenses

What is astigmatism?

  • Astigmatism is a refractive defect that causes images to focus on the retina in a distorted way
  • It affects near and far visio
  • It can occur by itself or in association with myopia or hyperopia
  • It is usually stable throughout life.
Normal eye

Normal eye

Astigmatic eye

Astigmatic eye

What causes it?

  • It is usually caused by a problem in the curvature of the cornea that impedes clear focusing on near and far objects
  • The cornea loses its spherical shape, becoming elliptical
  • Furthermore, the cause of this irregularity can be:
    • Hereditary
    • it may also occur as a result of trauma or disease
    • It may also appear after surgical procedures 

How can it be prevented?

Astigmatism cannot be prevented.

It can be diagnosed through an ophthalmological examination.

The most common tests include:

  • a refraction test
  • a corneal topography (if needed)

Certain special or complex cases may require other types of test.


They can vary depending on age and type and degree of astigmatism.

The most common symptoms are:

  • Perception of distorted images (most common symptom).
  • Poor visual acuity in far vision.
  • Problems in switching between near and far vision.
  • Difficulties in seeing fine detail, either near or distant.
  • Headaches, eye pain or dizziness, as a result of the eye’s muscular effort in trying to compensate for the defect with the accommodation of the crystalline lens (the eye’s natural lens whose elasticity enables the eye to focus). This is especially true in cases of astigmatism associated with hyperopia.

Astigmatism malaise

Astigmatism can cause discomfort (headaches or dizziness)

If the astigmatism is low, it may not affect vision.


Astigmatism can be corrected by glasses or toric contact lens.

Surgical treatment

If the patient prefers not to wear glasses or contact lenses, surgical solutions are available. Refractive surgery includes several techniques depending on the diagnosis:

  • Excimer laser: applied to the thickness of the cornea, used to correct moderate astigmatism. Femtosecond laser is often used during laser refractive procedures.
  • Incisional technique. (Arcuate keratotomy): consisting of making incisions on the corneal surface, indicated for high astigmatism.
  • Toric intraocular lenses: phakic (implanted between the cornea and crystalline lens) and pseudophakic (replacing the crystalline lens). It is commonly used to correct high astigmatism

The ophthalmologist will determine the most appropriate technique for each case.

Surgical treatment of astigmatism (video in Spanish)

About 80% of success in surgery depends on:

  • proper diagnosis
  • the selection of the type of surgery to use.

More information about refractive surgery techniques

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