Astigmatism: What It Is & How Glasses Can Help

20th October 2022


More and more people are affected by astigmatism and are looking for a stylish solution. Maybe you’re one of them and are wondering what astigmatism actually is. Astigmatism not only causes blurry vision but also triggers other symptoms such as headaches and eye strain. In this blog post, we will explain what astigmatism is, how you’ll know if you need glasses and whether or not over-the-counter reading glasses will suffice.

What is astigmatism?

Healthy eyes focus light uniformly in the back of the eye, enabling you to see clearly. Astigmatism is caused by an uneven curvature of the eye’s cornea, preventing light rays from being refracted normally. This results in incoming light being broken up into more than just one focus point in the back of the eye causing blurry vision and distortion amongst other symptoms.


While astigmatism is often inherited, it can be a result of eye disease, eye injury or surgery. Astigmatism usually develops later in life and worsens as you get older. However, properly treating astigmatism will improve your vision, along with your quality of life. The go-to, most stylish and affordable treatment option: glasses.

How astigmatism affects your glasses prescription

If you’re new to getting a prescription for glasses, you might be a little confused about what each of the columns and numbers stands for. To learn more about your glasses prescription, visit our Understanding Your Prescription page. Astigmatism is usually described by two components: CYL and Axis.

CYL is short for “cylinder” and refers to more cylindrical rather than spherical lenses. Instead of spherical glasses, cylindrical ones are used to counteract the uneven shape of the cornea. Therefore the number in the column refers to the lens power you’ll require.

Axis on the other hand is measured between 1 and 180 degrees and refers to the orientation of your astigmatism. The degrees shown in the column provide you with the astigmatism correction needed for your glasses.

When do you require glasses?

Whether you need glasses or not depends on how clearly you can see and how strong your astigmatism is. You should consider scheduling an eye exam if you’re experiencing blurry vision as well as irritating distortion. Your comfort and your optometrist’s recommendation are generally more important than the exact strength of your prescription. During an eye exam, you’ll experience corrected vision, showing you the possible effects of having prescription glasses. Additional symptoms to consider are blurry vision regardless of distance, trouble seeing at night and headaches due to eyestrain. If your astigmatism is considerably impacting your daily life, it is recommended to try glasses.

How glasses help with astigmatism

Glasses counteract the effects caused by the irregular shape of your cornea. Corrective cylindrical lenses are fitted to your prescription and altered to match the exact nature of your astigmatism. Light will be refracted correctly onto the retina of the eye by your prescription glasses and will considerably clarify your eyesight.

While it might be handy to just pick up some reading glasses from the chemists, they are not sufficient enough to help with astigmatism. Over-the-counter glasses only help correct near- or farsightedness and therefore might worsen some of your symptoms. You’ll need prescription glasses that are correctly adjusted to your astigmatism, seeing as they can differ in both eyes.

Best types of glasses for astigmatism

When you’re shopping for astigmatism glasses, there are a few factors to consider. When looking for frames, ones with a flat front are generally a better option, since wraparound frames may cause visual distortions.

Lens material may differ depending on your level of astigmatism. Polycarbonate lenses are used for mild or moderate astigmatism. If you have higher astigmatism (above +/-4.0 diopters), it is recommended to choose high-index lenses (1.67 or above), which will keep a thin lens profile, while providing the vision correction you need.

Due to irritating light and distortions caused by astigmatism, adding an anti-reflective coating to your lens is essential. This will diminish distracting reflections and glare, symptoms that would be amplified by lenses without such a coating, especially at night. For more details about an anti-reflective coating and how it helps, head over to our Anti-Reflective-Coating Page.

Adjusting to your new glasses

While glasses alter your style and overall look, they will probably take some time to get used to. You might experience symptoms such as dizziness or headaches, especially when you’re new to wearing glasses. These side effects should subside within a few days and you’ll be able to fully enjoy your new improved way of seeing the world.

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