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Astigmatism vs. Myopia: What’s the Difference?

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Ever find yourself squinting to read a sign only a short distance away or discovering the clear night sky is a blurry mess of lights? You’re not alone. Conditions like astigmatism and myopia affect so many of us, and they can come with a sea of questions about what they are and how they are different. 

Astigmatism and myopia are both refractive errors that can cause blurred vision, but while myopia only typically causes blurry vision at a distance, astigmatism can cause blurry vision both close up and far away. 

Both of these conditions can affect kids and adults, and they can get worse over time. Getting an eye exam is often the key to determining the right solution for correcting your vision. In some cases, there are treatments that can help stop your vision from getting worse as well, such as myopia control.

What Causes Astigmatism?

Astigmatism develops when your cornea or the lens in your eye has an unusual shape. Your cornea may be shaped more like a football than a sphere, and that can change how light enters your eye, leading to blurry vision at every distance. 

The underlying causes are not fully understood, but the factors that may play a role in whether or not a person develops astigmatism include:

  • Genetics
  • Other eye conditions
  • Eye injuries
  • Complications from surgery
  • Children who rub their eyes excessively

What Causes Myopia (Nearsightedness)?

Myopia also develops because of changes in the shape of your eye. In this case, either when a person’s eye grows too long or their cornea becomes too curved, causing light to focus incorrectly in the eye and leading to blurry distance vision.

Genetics is a key underlying factor for myopia development—kids with parents who have myopia can be more likely to develop it as well—but there are other factors that may also play a role in determining whether a child develops myopia, such as:

  • Time spent outdoors
  • Time spent on near-vision activities, such as reading or looking at a screen

Myopia often first develops during childhood, and it can gradually get worse. When it’s detected early with an eye exam, there are options for slowing its progression with myopia control techniques.

Astigmatism vs. Myopia: Key Differences & Similarities

Astigmatism and myopia are both refractive errors, which means they both cause blurry vision. But, while myopia only causes blurry vision at a distance, astigmatism can cause blurred vision up close too. 

Both conditions can appear during childhood, and they can both be corrected. Glasses and contact lenses are 2 of the most common options for seeing clearly with astigmatism and myopia, but there are other options we may recommend based on your family or child’s lifestyle, needs, and eye health. 

Methods for Correcting Astigmatism

There are several options for correcting astigmatism. In addition to standard glasses and contact lenses, there are also specialty contacts we may recommend for some people with astigmatism, such as toric contact lenses.

Laser eye surgery is another option that adults can consider for correcting astigmatism. We can help you decide if this form of treatment is right for you. 

Methods for Managing Myopia

Glasses and contacts are common options for correcting myopia, and laser eye surgery is also an option that some adults may want to consider. In addition to those common options, you may also want to consider myopia control for your child.

What is Myopia Control?

Myopia control is a technique for managing myopia that involves not just correcting vision but also addressing the underlying cause of myopia: eye elongation. 

By signalling the eye to stop growing, myopia control techniques can help slow the progression of myopia, preserving your child’s vision and helping them avoid lifetime complications of high myopia, such as an increased risk of developing other eye conditions. 

There are specialty glasses lenses and contact lenses that can help control myopia. When you visit us, we can help you determine which option may be best suited to your child’s lifestyle and preferences.

A male optometrist using a medical device to examine the eyes of a young child and look for potential eye problems.

Let’s Talk About Seeing Clearly

Remember, astigmatism and myopia both cause vision changes that can be corrected, but the key to reaching optimal outcomes is often early diagnosis. That’s 1 reason why routine eye exams are so important for kids. 

At Discover Eyecare, we’re all about helping families find the right options for seeing clearly and maintaining their long-term eye health. With routine visits, we can monitor your family’s eyes and vision, detect conditions like astigmatism and myopia early, and provide ongoing support to help you enjoy the benefits of clear sight. 

Book a comprehensive eye exam today, and let’s talk about the right options for helping your family see clearly. 

Written by Dr. Jonathan Laudadio

Jonathan was born and raised in Quebec. He moved to Abbotsford, BC, where he attended high school before moving on to UBC for his undergrad. Jonathan completed his Doctorate of Optometry at the Université de Montréal in 2004 with some training at the Portland VA Medical Centre. He has been in private practice since graduating and has worked six years in a laser surgery/ophthalmology clinic. He is a very proud father of 2 girls, plays sports, loves his Montreal Canadiens, and baseball.
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