Astigmatism is a very common eye problem. It causes blurred vision at all distances. It usually occurs when the corneas are ‘rugby ball shaped’.

As a condition it can make a multitude of tasks more difficult – from close work like reading, to distance tasks like driving or watching television. Because of this, many people with astigmatism suffer sore or tired eyes from over-straining them. Headaches are also a common symptom.

It is thought that the condition is inherited, so you are more likely to be astigmatic if one or both of your parents has the condition. However, it can also occur as a result of an eye injury that causes scarring on the cornea, and may also come about as a result of the eye condition keratoconus.

This condition was previously untreatable with surgery. But thanks to the advanced techniques we now have available many people affected can enjoy freedom from glasses and contact lenses.

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The symptoms

Unlike short sightedness (which only affects distance vision) and long sightedness (which mainly affects close-up vision), astigmatism affects both distance and close vision. So if you notice objects at all distances seem blurry, this may be the reason.

Understanding astigmatism

To understand the condition, it first helps to understand how the eye works.

It is a refractive error caused by an imperfection in the eye – usually in the cornea (the clear front ‘window’ of the eye), but sometimes in the lens. The imperfection changes the way your eye focuses the light rays that pass into it. This can happen when:

  • The cornea is an oval ‘rugby ball’ shape rather than a round soccer ball shape
  • The lens is an oval ‘rugby ball shape’, rather than a round ‘soccer ball shape’

When either of these imperfections occur, it means the light that enters your eye doesn't have a single point focus. This makes objects at all distances look blurry.

Compare the two images below:

Normal vision

Astigmatism vision


Refractive errors like astigmatism were traditionally corrected with glasses and contacts. In the case of astigmatism, and particularly severe astigmatism, there used to be no other option, as laser eye surgery was generally unsuitable. 

However, thanks to the advanced laser eye surgery now available many people affected can now enjoy permanent vision correction and freedom from the hassles of glasses and contacts.

At Eye Institute we offer LASIK as a treatment. It’s the safest and most advanced laser eye surgery available in New Zealand. 


In light of Covid-19, we are taking additional steps to ensure the safety of our patients and our staff when they visit one of our clinics:

  1. We have set up pre-screening stations before entering the clinic and turning away any suspected cases
  2. We are disinfecting all surfaces between each patient
  3. We are adhering to all social distancing protocols in both our clinics and our theatres
  4. We are offering virtual consultations for any patient that would rather see us from the comfort of their own home



Alternatively you can call us on 0800 99 2020 to speak to one of our friendly customer care consultants.