If you’ve never heard of ‘astigmatism’ before, don’t worry, because you’re definitely not alone. It’s a pretty common medical condition where the cornea of your eyes has an abnormal curve, causing blurry or unclear images.
In most cases, astigmatism is definitely not severe, but rather annoying instead. Most people probably don’t even realize that they have the condition since other issues such as near- or far-sightedness have a bigger impact on eyesight.
A comparison photo of traffic lights on Twitter was a real eye-opener for thousands of people, who were only realizing now that they have astigmatism.
The comparison was posted by the Twitter-account Unusual Facts, which wanted to show how people with astigmatism perceive light sources such as traffic lights.
“With astigmatism, light focuses on several points of the retina rather just one point,” the tweet says. This is what people with astigmatism (see) vs without.”
The effects of astigmatism can sometimes be replicated by a camera sensor in the right conditions. The picture on the left shows that the light sources are way more refracted and diffused, while the normal picture on the right shows a much clearer image of the traffic and car lights, without these so-called astigmatism light rays.
As mentioned above, seeing these rays of light is because of the shape of the cornea. If it’s not perfectly rounded and matching with your lens, you’ll probably see these light rays all the time because the retina can’t focus properly on the light sources. As a result, the receiving light isn’t bent correctly.
In fact, you can compare it to a camera that has difficulties focussing on a strong light source – you’ll likely see these rays of light in the pictures and videos too.
Interestingly, astigmatism can occur more strongly horizontally, vertically or diagonally. While it is more common for people who have near- or far-sightedness, people with a 20/20 vision can also have this condition. For some people, it only affects one eye.
With almost 24,000 retweets, this comparison photo has definitely gone viral, but it was the comments section that was more interesting.
A lot of people were simply stunned by the picture because they always see lights such as in the left picture, and didn’t even realize in the slightest they had astigmatism.
“Wait people can see lights normally? I thought everyone saw those lines”
“I thought it was just my glasses causing this.”
“Holy (…) I thought everyone saw the lines, when I was little I would squint to make em longer to entertain myself, thought that was normal”
“I have no clue cause this is about how everything looks to me”
“I thought everyone saw the lines?! I didn’t realize I had (an) astigmatism?!”
These are just a few of the many surprised reactions.
This person even theorized that the windshield of the car would be the cause, but his theory was quickly busted.
“Could the first picture be capturing the curvature in the front windshield rather than a biological defect?”
One person was extremely doubtful that the image on the left was an accurate representation of astigmatism and rather the cause of a dirty lens, but the person behind the Unusual Facts Twitter-account (who has astigmatism) assured him that this is exactly what he sees.
“Sir, as someone with astigmatisms. And many others have said on this very thread. This is accurate to how we see the world. Light streaks across our vision making it very difficult at night. Believe me when I say, I can look out my window and see just that.”
Is there anything you can do to fix astigmatism?
Most people won’t even notice the symptoms aside from the blurry light sources, but in a couple of rare cases, people can suffer from headaches or overly excessive squinting.
Doctors recommend that the condition should be left untreated if it’s mild, but you can also get corrective lenses that will compensate the imperfect cornea in your eye, fixing the refraction issues. If you want a more permanent fix, laser surgery is also possible.
According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, one in three Americans have astigmatism – but most don’t even know. At least this comparison photo has definitely been an eye-opener!
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Astigmatism is when the cornea is slightly curved rather than completely round..
With astigmatism, light focuses on several points of the retina rather just one point. This is what people with Astigmatisms vs without. pic.twitter.com/RXWWayFBRJ
— Unusual Facts (@UnusualFacts6) March 25, 2019