Astigmatism at Night: Causes, Effects, and Solutions

Jul 09, 2024 | 2 min read

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Astigmatism at night can cause significant visual distortions, making activities like driving challenging. Understanding its symptoms and exploring corrective measures can improve nighttime vision and safety.

What is astigmatism?

Astigmatism is a common vision condition caused by an irregularly shaped cornea or lens. This irregular shape prevents light from focusing properly on the retina, resulting in blurred or distorted vision. 

People with astigmatism often experience symptoms like:

  • headaches
  • eye strain
  • difficulty seeing at night

It can occur in combination with nearsightedness (myopia) or farsightedness (hyperopia), affecting overall visual clarity. 

Regular eye check-ups can help diagnose astigmatism, allowing for appropriate corrective measures such as glasses or contact lenses to improve vision.

What does astigmatism look like at night?

Astigmatism at night often leads to distorted and blurred vision, making it harder to see clearly. 

Lights, such as street lamps or car headlights, may appear streaky or spread out, rather than as single points of light. This is due to the irregular curvature of the cornea or lens, which scatters light unevenly. 

Nighttime vision can feel less sharp and more strained, making activities like driving challenging.

Lights at night with astigmatism

For individuals with astigmatism, lights at night often appear blurry and scattered, causing discomfort and reduced visibility. Common issues include:

  • Glare: Bright lights may seem to have a glare, making it hard to see beyond them.
  • Halos: Circular rings or halos around lights can obscure vision. As Dr. Nicole Bajic, an ophthalmologist at Cleveland Clinic, explains: "If you have significant astigmatism, the halos look more like comets with lines of light radiating out from the center."
  • Starbursts: Lights may appear to have starburst effects, radiating outward. 

These visual disturbances occur because the irregular cornea or lens shape prevents light from focusing correctly. This scattering of light makes it challenging to distinguish details, particularly in low-light conditions. 

How to drive at night with astigmatism?

Driving at night with astigmatism can be challenging due to blurred vision and light distortions. Here are some tips to drive safely:

  • Update Prescription: Ensure your glasses or contact lenses are up to date.
  • Anti-reflective Coatings: Use lenses with anti-reflective coatings to reduce glare. These coatings can enhance contrast and improve visual comfort during nighttime driving.
  • Adjust Mirrors: Properly adjust your car's mirrors to minimize reflections. Consider using an auto-dimming rearview mirror to further reduce glare.
  • Use High Beams: Utilize high beams when appropriate for better visibility.
  • Take Breaks: Regularly rest your eyes to reduce strain. Blink frequently to keep your eyes moist and reduce dryness.

Caution: Avoid driving in poorly lit or high-traffic areas if vision feels compromised

How to fix astigmatism at night?

Fixing astigmatism at night primarily involves using corrective lenses tailored to your prescription. These lenses help focus light correctly on the retina, reducing blurriness and light distortions. To improve nighttime vision:

  • Corrective Lenses: Use glasses or contact lenses with the correct prescription.
  • Anti-reflective Coatings: Reduce glare and halos from lights.
  • Specialized Contact Lenses: Consider contact lenses designed for nighttime wear for added comfort. Some contact lenses are specifically designed for extended wear, including nighttime use. 
  • Lifestyle Adjustments: Ensure adequate lighting and reduce screen time before bed.
  • Refractive Surgery: Refractive surgery can be an option for long-term correction of astigmatism. Procedures like LASIK or PRK reshape the cornea to correct the irregular curvature.
  • Orthokeratology (Ortho-K): This non-surgical option can manage astigmatism without daytime lenses. Ortho-K involves wearing rigid contact lenses overnight to reshape the cornea and improve daytime vision. Its success depends on proper lens fitting, strict care regimen, regular follow-ups, and timely treatment of complications, according to Eye & Contact Lens: Science & Clinical Practice study.
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