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Astigmatism (curvature of the cornea)

In astigmatism (also: astigmatism, astigmatism) the cornea of ​​the eye is not hemispherically (spherically) curved - rather the cornea is either not curved equally in all planes or the curvature of the surface is irregular.

Point-shaped light sources are therefore not shown at one point on the cornea, but rather perceived or seen blurred in a line. Minor curvatures of the cornea are often hardly noticed by those affected. If the corneal curvature is high, a “distorted” image is perceived.


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A distinction is made between the following forms:

  • Regular astigmatism - two mutually perpendicular meridians (planes) break differently. The vertical plane can break more than the horizontal one (astigmatism according to the rule, astigmatism rectus) or vice versa (astigmatism against the rule, astigmatism inversus).
  • Irregular astigmatism - different parts of the cornea have very different refractive powers (e.g. with scarring, keratoconus).

Correct perception is hindered by astigmatism when looking into the distance, but also close up - for example when reading. In addition to astigmatism, another ametropia (e.g. myopia or farsightedness) can be present.

Note You can view a simulation of the astigmatism on the MedUni Vienna website.

Diagnosis of astigmatism

The ophthalmologist (also: ophthalmologist, specialist in ophthalmology) conducts an interview (anamnesis) in which, among other things, possible problems or reasons for the visit are discussed.

Various examinations are usually carried out. With the help of measuring instruments, the ophthalmologist examines various structures of the eye (e.g. retina, vitreous humor, cornea, etc.) and clarifies changes, ametropia and diseases.

  • To determine the curvature of the cornea, an ophthalmometer is sometimes used, with the help of which the curvature can be measured in certain planes and the refractive power can be determined. If the astigmatism is severe, the Placido disk is also used for diagnosis. The doctor also uses a retinoscopy or an automated refractometer for diagnosis.
  • In addition to examining the vitreous body and the anterior segment of the eye (using a slit lamp) and the fundus (using an ophthalmoscope, so-called ophthalmoscopy) and a precise examination of the visual acuity with refraction determination (measurement of the refractive power of the eye using a refractometer), she / he conducts an examination of the pupillary reaction and eye movement through.
  • The eyesight is tested with and without glasses (with an eye test chart or visual acuity projector). If necessary, the intraocular pressure is measured (tonometry) and further examinations are carried out. The doctor can identify refractive errors or organic causes that impair vision and diagnose or rule out other diseases.

The corneal curvature is given in diopters. In addition, the ophthalmologist will indicate the axis affected by the curvature. This is recorded in degrees.

You can find information about preventive examinations etc. on the website of the Austrian Ophthalmological Society.

Correction of astigmatism

Regular astigmatism can be corrected with glasses (cylinder lenses). In the case of corneal astigmatism, dimensionally stable (hard) contact lenses are used. Irregular astigmatism (e.g. keratoconus, corneal scars) can only be corrected with dimensionally stable contact lenses.

Surgery with corneal transplantation or laser treatment (refractive surgery) may also be indicated. The doctor decides on the necessity and implementation depending on the individual requirements of the individual. She / he provides information about the advantages and risks.

You can also find brief information on laser treatment, among other things, in the brochure Operations for the Elimination of Refractive Defects by the German Ophthalmological Society.

Whom can I ask?

The ophthalmologist (also: ophthalmologist / ophthalmologist, specialist in ophthalmology) diagnoses astigmatism. You can also examine the eye for any other ametropia and diseases. The ophthalmologist will initiate the correction with glasses or contact lenses as well as further treatment steps. Regular check-ups are advisable in the course of ametropia.

Orthoptists can also be involved in diagnosis and treatment. Opticians manufacture and adjust visual aids, provide information on how to use visual aids, can check visual acuity, etc. However, only ophthalmologists perform eye examinations.

How are the costs going to be covered?

The e-card is your personal key to the benefits of the statutory health insurance.

Information on, among other things, the deductible, the exemption from the cost share for glasses and any cost subsidies for contact lenses can be obtained from your health insurance provider, which you can find on the social security website.

With regard to the assumption of costs for refractive laser operations, the chief medical service of the responsible health insurance company always decides whether a health insurance benefit can be used.

Further information can also be found at:

  • Right to treatment
  • Visit to the doctor: costs and deductibles
  • What does the hospital stay cost?
  • Prescription fee: This is how drug costs are covered
  • Rehabilitation & cure
  • Medical aids & aids
  • Health Professions AZ

and via the online guide to reimbursement of social insurance costs.

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