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Does Astigmatism Get Worse With Age?

By Marta Manning
Medically Reviewed by Neda Shamie, MD, and member of the Refractive Surgery Council editorial advisory board on December 21, 2020
Your vision undergoes changes as you get older. Learn how astigmatism also changes with age.

Our bodies undergo significant changes as we age, and our eyes are no exception. According to a 2017 article published by OpticianEDU, many adults eventually experience cataracts, glaucoma, or macular degeneration when they get older. But can aging also play a role in worsening astigmatism

Astigmatism is a condition where your lens or cornea (transparent front layer of your eye) has an irregular shape. According to Yuna Rapoport, MD, an ophthalmologist at Manhattan Eye, astigmatism basically means that your eye or cornea is shaped more like a football than a basketball  — the measurement in the vertical is steeper than the horizontal or vice versa. An unevenly-shaped lens or cornea does not allow light to bend (refract) properly, which leads to blurred vision. 

“Astigmatism means an image is focusing in two different places in the back of the eye,” Jeff Kegarise, OD tells WebMD Connect to Care. “The total amount of astigmatism in the eye is what is measured in a refraction [during an exam]. The total refractive amount is a combination of the curvature from the cornea plus the curvature from the lens.”

Does Astigmatism Get Better or Worse With Age?

Astigmatism frequently progresses as you age, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology. The cornea can become increasingly irregular with age due to lessening pressure from eyelids progressively losing muscle tone. 

According to a 2018 study published in Acta Ophthalmologica, astigmatism remains relatively stable until 50 years of age. After age 60, overall lens curvature increases progressively with each decade of life. “Since the corneal curvature changes gradually over time, as does the lens, astigmatism can change over a person's life,” Kegarise says. 

Your doctor can help you manage your astigmatism as you grow older. Worsening astigmatism can be treated with corrective lenses and surgical procedures like LASIK or lense replacement. Talk to your doctor to find the best option for you.

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