Why Your Astigmatism May Make it Harder to See at Night

Astigmatism is a common eye condition, with about 30% of the population in the U.S. (1 in 3 people) having some degree of it. It is defined as an imperfection in the shape of the cornea that affects your perception of light resulting in imperfect eyesight including poor night vision. 

In this article, we outline exactly how astigmatism can affect your ability to see at night and possible treatment options that can greatly improve your quality of vision. 

What Is Astigmatism?

To function optimally, the lens and cornea of the eyes need a uniformly circular surface. If the curvature of the cornea or lens is asymmetrical, your eye is unable to perceive light correctly resulting in a refractive error known as astigmatism. 

This common vision condition almost always presents in both eyes at birth, but may also develop later, and can be a result of a traumatic eye injury. 

Common symptoms of astigmatism include:
Blurred vision
– Headaches or migraines
– Squinting
– Lights appear fuzzy and blurry
– Eyestrain
– Difficulty seeing clearly at night

While the most noticeable sign of astigmatism is blurry vision, both at a distance and close-up, for some people, symptoms may not be as disruptive in the daytime. For instance, many patients with astigmatism report having poor vision quality while driving at night, but no problem driving during the day.

How Astigmatism Affects Night Vision

Having trouble seeing at night doesn’t immediately indicate that you have astigmatism. Just the same, you can have astigmatism and not have issues with night vision. However, if your astigmatism seems to get worse at night, you’re not alone!

Some of the most noticeable and disruptive ways astigmatism can affect your night vision is problems like glares or halos around street lights or headlights. This can be distracting, disorienting, and can even make driving at night extremely dangerous.  

In low light situations, such as dimly lit rooms, or during the nighttime, your pupil gets larger (dilates) which allows more light to enter your eye to help you see. When your pupil size adjusts like this, more light enters from the sides of your eye (peripheral light), increasing the symptoms of astigmatism and causing more noticeable vision blurring, light glares, and more. 

Driving at Night With Astigmatism

Up and down streets and highways there will be street lights, traffic lights, headlights, brake lights, and reflective traffic signs all brightly illuminated for drivers to see clearly. Especially at night, these lights are critical to maintaining safe driving conditions. However, for many people with astigmatism, the light can actually make it more difficult to see clearly. 

Astigmatism effects you may notice while driving at night includes:
– Streaks of light beams or glares
– Fuzzy light beams or glares
– Halos around light sources
– Feeling like you need to squint
– Increased vision issues when it rains

As we know, when your pupils dilate in darker environments, the extra light entering your eyes actually makes astigmatism more noticeable. So all the traffic and street lights have halos around them or appear fuzzy and distorted, making it more difficult for people with astigmatism to see the road.

Treatments for Astigmatism that Help With Night Vision 

Astigmatism can affect your vision quality in varying degrees and can progressively get worse over time. Thankfully there are many treatment options for patients struggling with astigmatism and poor night vision.

Eyeglasses and Contact Lenses

Corrective eyewear such as contact lenses, Ortho-K lenses, and prescription eyeglasses can help minimize astigmatism symptoms by bending the light to focus properly on your retina. This is not a permanent solution, and your vision and astigmatism can still progressively worsen as you age, but they can greatly improve your eyesight and night vision.

Refractive Laser Eye Surgery

Laser-assisted eye surgery employs state-of-the-art laser technology to reshape your corneal tissue to correct vision issues including astigmatism, myopia (nearsightedness), and hyperopia (farsightedness). 

These laser eye surgeries can offer patients with astigmatism long-term solutions to poor vision quality:
Refractive Lens Exchange
PRK (Photorefractive Keratectomy)

The experienced eye surgeons at LaserVue Eye Center are equipped with the most advanced all-laser technologies and have successfully performed tens of thousands of laser eye surgeries. Our board-certified ophthalmologists are able to help you find the best astigmatism treatment options based on your unique needs to ensure your best possible vision.

Learn More About Your Treatment Options for Astigmatism

Astigmatism can greatly impact your quality of life, and even make certain tasks such as driving at night impossible. Thankfully astigmatism is treatable, and there are a variety of options available to correct this eye condition. The LaserVue Eye Center team is proud to be the leading provider of advanced eye and vision care in the Bay Area. We want to help all our patients receive the personalized care and solutions they deserve.

To learn more about your treatment options for astigmatism, contact us today.