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Astigmatism is a type of refractive error in which the eye does not focus light evenly on the retina. This results in distorted or blurred vision at all distances. Other symptoms can include eyestrain, headaches, and trouble driving at night. If it occurs early in life it can result in amblyopia.
The cause of astigmatism is unclear. It is believed to be partly related to genetic factors. The underlying mechanism involves an irregular curvature of the cornea or abnormalities in the lens of the eye. Diagnosis is by an eye exam.
Three options exist for the treatment: glasses, contact lenses, and surgery. Glasses are the simplest. Contact lenses can provide a wider field of vision. Refractive surgery permanently changes the shape of the eye.
In Europe and Asia astigmatism affects between 30 and 60% of adults. People of all ages can be affected. Astigmatism was first reported by Thomas Young in the early 1800s.

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