ZocdocAnswersWhat's the difference between astigmatism and nearsightedness?

Question

What's the difference between astigmatism and nearsightedness?

I am nearsighted and my friend is also nearsighted and has astigmatism. I thought nearsightedness was astigmatism. What's the difference.

Answer

Nearsightedness (or myopia, as it is called medically) is the most common form of visual defect. It is caused when the structures in the eye do not adequately focus the light that enters the eye onto the retina. It is typically and easily corrected using glasses or contact lenses that are designed to refocus the light back onto the surface of the retina. Astigmatism is also common, although not as common as myopia. It is a slightly more complicated visual problem to fix. It occurs when the eye is not perfectly symmetric, which means that light does not enter the eye symmetrically. This typically causes problems with fine detail; with more severe astigmatism some objects may appear 'curved' to the patient. Astigmatism is corrected by using glasses or contact lenses that compensate for the asymmetry in the curvature of the eye. It is also common for people to have both astigmatism and myopia at the same time. People with myopia, astigmatism, or a combination of these conditions should have regular eye examinations by their ophthalmologists or optometrists. They can help pick a good visual correction method as well as answer any questions that you or your friend may have about good visual health.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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