Can I ignore my astigmatism?
March 23, 2012 4:49 PM   Subscribe

I am a new eyeglass wearer and the astigmatism correction (the visual distortion) is driving me nuts. Can I ignore it and just get glasses that fit the rest of my prescription?


OD: -0.50 (Sph) | -0.75 (Cyl) | 125 (Axis)
OS: -0.25 (Sph) | -0.25 (Cyl) | 35 (Axis)
posted by mrunderhill to Health & Fitness (16 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
What did your optometrist say?
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 4:55 PM on March 23, 2012

How new of a wearer are you? I only have astigmatism correction and when I got new glasses last year it took a few weeks to get fully adjusted to them.
posted by fromageball at 4:58 PM on March 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

I would vote for giving yourself time to adjust. When I got my first pair of glasses, everything looked like it was leaning away from me at about 45 degrees for the first week, but after that my brain adapted to the lenses and everything looked normal, but in focus. Every time I get new glasses I have a period of adjustment like fromageball mentioned, though it's much less alarming than the initial one.
posted by Blue Jello Elf at 5:02 PM on March 23, 2012 [2 favorites]

Even regardless of astigmatism, the world's geometry will be different with glasses. It always takes a few weeks for me to adjust. My advise would be to wear the glasses as much as you can, and they'll feel natural pretty soon.

But OnTheLastCastle is right - your optometrist's job is to answer questions like this, and they're more qualified than a most of us here to give you good answers.
posted by aubilenon at 5:03 PM on March 23, 2012

My glasses had astigmatism correction and my contacts do not. I cant tell the difference.

If your optometrist says you need correction, you probably do.
posted by twblalock at 5:03 PM on March 23, 2012

I've been wearing glasses since i was 5 and new prescriptions still feel strange for the first couple weeks. I even had a real cheap pair that had chromatic aberration on the edge of my vision. After a month or so your brain adjusts, and just sorta tunes out the new difference; so if i were you I'd give it about a month and if you're still unhappy go back and chat with the dudes and/or ladies at the glasses place and see whats up.
posted by apathy0o0 at 5:03 PM on March 23, 2012

+1 "you will get used to it"

I have a mild astigmatism, and my first pair of glasses made me feel like I was eleven feet tall. They no longer make me feel like that, no matter how much I would like them to.
posted by Sys Rq at 5:09 PM on March 23, 2012 [3 favorites]

You will get used to it, and if you're like me, following lines on a screen and whatnot will become easier.

However, I have had two pairs of glasses now that were put into the frame slightly off, and boy oh boy could I tell on the astigmatic eye. Awful, headachey, nauseating, vertigo-y, bleh.

I would go back in person and tell them you're having trouble and see what they say.

If they blow you off, (as Costco did to me, by the way), find another optometrist. I have had by far the best luck with the small, single proprietor type shops.
posted by small_ruminant at 5:19 PM on March 23, 2012

When I first got glasses (for nearsightedness and astigmatism), it looked to me like I was in a pool. I was 9 or 10, but I remember feeling annoyed. I got used to them fairly quickly, though, and wouldn't voluntarily go back.
posted by sarae at 5:19 PM on March 23, 2012

Best answer: I agree with everyone else that you will get used to them, but one consideration is that your correction is so slight that you might be wanting to only wear the glasses occasionally. If you are not wearing them all the time, you may not get used to them, and then the astigmatism correction will remain very annoying.

To answer your question, you CAN get glasses made without the astigmatism correction. Go to any online glasses shop and enter your prescription without the astigmatism correction when you buy the lenses. But whether you SHOULD is another matter. Fortunately online glasses can be cheap, so you can buy a pair and then experiment with what works for you.
posted by lollusc at 5:57 PM on March 23, 2012

Best answer: Your glasses should be pretty good the instant you put them on. It can take a few days to get fully used to them, but they should not be "driving you nuts".

You'll get used to them if you continue to wear them - but that does not mean the glasses are correct for you, especially with that type prescription. Then when you take the glasses off, your eyes need a half hour to readjust to their normal state. That should never happen. So do this, we are talking about your EYES:

1) Go somewhere else and have the prescription of the glasses checked. Not against the prescription - say you don't have the prescription and want to know the prescription on those glasses. The optical assistant can examine the glasses and write you an UNofficial prescription with the prescription data of the glasses. Studies and Consumer Reports and your local news station's consumer story of the day (done once a year) do stories that it is not unusual that glasses are made wrong or are apparently made sloppily.

2) Get a different eye examination somewhere else. If you had your glasses done at a chain, don't go to another unit of that chain. Go to even the cheapest place around, the discount outlet place, just get an all new different prescription. Again, don't tell them about your glasses or the prescription you have.

3) Compare everything.

Problems I have experienced: wrong pupil distance noted in prescription; lenses not properly centered to the correct pupil distance on the prescription; really off prescription; lenses not placed in frame at the correct rotation; wrong lenses (this happens when the place is out of the exact lens prescribed and just uses the closest one they have, one admitted). They all always say "you'll get used to it" and/or bend your frames a bit or replace one or the other lens and push you out the door.

This is from my sad experience over the years, but I won't go into detailed stories. I have had glasses remade several times, and at one place always well respected, after several adjustments they did, I asked for (was ready to demand) my money back fully including the eye examination, but they gave it back pretty nicely, considering. The eye doctor there gave me cash right out of his wallet refunding his examination so there would be no record of that in the store. On preview someone said Costco. That was Costco. Do I have stories.....

If the astigmatism correction was prescribed correctly and the glasses are made correctly, you'll see better through them and they'll feel better to look through. They'll feel and view just right, allowing for the small difference of just looking through a lens versus not through a lens.

I am not a doctor or eye doctor; my experience is that the eyeglass business is pretty loose, and price has nothing to do with the quality you get.
posted by caclwmr4 at 10:08 PM on March 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: IANAOptomitrist

OD: -0.50 (Sph) | -0.75 (Cyl) | 125 (Axis)
OS: -0.25 (Sph) | -0.25 (Cyl) | 35 (Axis)

A translation: 0.25 is usually the smallest increment used, and it's totally normal for your eyes to vary +/- 0.25 over the course of an average day (for example). To give you some comparison, my correction is -1.25 and -1.5 and I'm fine for walking around but I wouldn't want to drive without glasses/contacts. (I also can't do things like read signs from a distance or see faces across a room without my glasses/contacts.)

So this says your right eye is slightly nearsighted (0.5--two increments) and slightly more astigmatic (0.75--3 increments). Your left eye is just barely nearsighted (one increment) and barely astigmatic (one increment).

Again, IANAO, but you could probably get away with removing the astigmatism correction from your left eye (or even just a plain lens on that side), but probably not on the right side, where the astigmatism is more significant.
posted by anaelith at 6:31 AM on March 24, 2012

Best answer: Like caclwmr4 said, go to another optometrist to have them verify whether the glasses were made according to the prescription.

A DIY test that helped me to figure out that something was wrong with my glasses: pick an object that has some level of detail that you're unable to see clearly without glasses, but that you should be seeing clearly with glasses. (For my DIY test, I picked a drawing hanging on the opposite wall of my living room.) Put on your glasses. Close one eye and look at the object. Close the other eye and look at the object. You should be able to see it equally clearly with both eyes.

(I've got different levels of near-sightedness and different levels of astigmatism in either eye, and this is how I figured out that a pair of glasses that gave me trouble - wearing them I felt like Alice in Wonderland shrunk to where my head was right above my feet - wasn't made according to prescription. I had bought two pairs of glasses that were supposedly made to the same prescription. With the pair that wasn't giving me trouble I could see the drawing equally clearly with either eye, with the pair that was giving me trouble I couldn't. It turned that of the faulty pair one lens had the wrong astigmatism correction.)
posted by rjs at 10:31 AM on March 24, 2012

Best answer: Depending on the eye doctor, yes, you can get glasses without astigmatism correction.

When my prescription first started having astigmatism correction, I tried three different pairs of glasses, from three different doctors (in two different states), and with all of those glasses, they made my eyelids feel tired and heavy and droopy. Never got used to the feeling, and it drove me crazy for over a year. All three pairs had their prescription and axis verified, and all was as prescribed.

After a full exam to make sure there was nothing physically wrong with my eyes, I finally asked my eye doctor if we could try leaving off the astigmatism correction, which he did (probably because it's pretty light: -1.00 in one eye, -0.50 in the other). As soon as I got that new pair of glasses, it was the most amazing feeling in the world. No more heavy-droopy eyelids.
posted by themissy at 11:22 AM on March 24, 2012

Best answer: I've been a lot happier with my glasses ever since I started refusing to have any astigmatism correction included in them. I normally wear contact lenses that don't correct for astigmatism and see fine with them, so obviously I don't need an astigmatism correction, plus it seems as though whatever astigmatism I have flips around constantly anyway. If I blink a whole lot, it seems to change. Glasses without any correction for astigmatism are easier for me to see through. I don't know what's going on, but spherical lenses are better for me.
posted by artistic verisimilitude at 12:08 PM on March 25, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks for the help guys!
posted by mrunderhill at 7:19 PM on March 25, 2012

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