A Twitter account recently shared two photos for comparison to one another and the Internet is now full of people who believe they have a condition known as “astigmatism.” Though it sounds like something from some kind of low-rent horror film about Jesus, astigmatism is a condition of the eyes that prevents them from focusing on light sources normally.
Astigmatism is a refractive condition that occurs when the cornea (the front surface of the eye) or the lens inside the eye has mismatched curves. A normal eye has both the cornea and lens curved in a rounded shape, whereas people with astigmatism have one of these elements in an egg shape. In a perfect eye, the rounded shape of the cornea and lens refract any incoming light to produce a sharply focused image on the retina. (Bored Panda)
Wikipedia’s entry on astigmatism has a couple of good cross-section images that explain it even better.
Things like astigmatisms cause the most amount of problems to people with vision issues, with almost half of reported errors coming from issues with the eye’s refractive qualities.
According to studies and reports from the World Health Organization, they are also the first cause of visual impairments and the second cause of visual loss worldwide, as 43% of global visual impairments are due to refractive errors. Uncorrected refractive errors were the cause of blindness in 6.8 million people in 2010 worldwide. In the United States astigmatism occurs in 1 out of 3 people.
Twitter user @UnusualFacts6, which bills itself as an account dedicated to the “Most Weird and Horrific Facts on the Internet,” recently published a tweet with two images of similar nighttime scenes. Each picture depicts the tail lights of cars and some traffic lights at night. One side has streaks, or “flares” emanating from the light sources, while another doesn’t. Unusual Facts explained that this comparative difference demonstrates how eyes with astigmatism see light as opposed to those without.
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
The tweet went viral, with over 53k likes and 22k retweets.
It seemed like an awful lot of people discovered they had an astigmatism because of the comparison of the two photos. Tons of people essentially said their whole lives they’d assumed everyone else saw the streaks and lines they did, and that the tweet opened their vision up, pun intended, to the fact that many don’t see the blurring.
Of course, it being the Internet, there were plenty of skeptics. @UnusualFacts6 claims to have astigmatism, or whoever running the account does anyway, and repeatedly told doubters the comparison holds up for people with refractive issues in their vision.
Obviously, if you’re having any vision issues, you should see a qualified optometrist or ophthalmologist to determine if you have an astigmatism or any other refractive problems. However, it’s still pretty neat to have at least some anecdotal idea of what people who do have an astigmatism in one or both eyes go through every single day.
Writer/comedian James Schlarmann is the founder of The Political Garbage Chute and his work has been featured on The Huffington Post. You can follow James on Facebook and Instagram, but not Twitter because he has a potty mouth.