Exploring Keratoconus And Astigmatism: How It Can Impact An Athlete’s Vision

Recognizing these conditions is the key to correction and optimal vision for sports

Dr. Daniel Laby
5 min readJan 23


Close-up photo of an eye with a reflection on the cornea
Photo by Kelly

Although often not considered, vision is a critical component of sports performance. Have you ever seen an athlete play with their eyes closed?

There are many eye conditions that can affect the vision of athletes; one of the most commonly overlooked is astigmatism. Regular astigmatism and its more severe cousin, keratoconus, can silently steal your vision without your being aware.

First of all, let’s investigate astigmatism.

Astigmatism is a condition where the eye is shaped more like an American football rather than a basketball. If you think about a basketball, it is a perfect sphere. Meaning that no matter how you trace your finger over the surface of the basketball, you form the same curve. This is important as light is focused predominantly at the surface of the cornea and if the surface curves are all the same, the light will be focused the same regardless of what curve the light contacts and all the light will be focused on a very sharp (and clear) point.

On the other hand, if the surface of the eye is shaped more like an American football, then the light will not all focus on the same point. Let’s run the same experiment with your finger on the surface of the football. This time we notice that there are two curves to the surface. One curve is longer and flatter across the horizontal direction and the other curve is shorter and steeper over the vertical curve. These two different surfaces will focus light differently leading to two images overlapping each other, which will be appreciated as blurred vision.

Therefore, if your eye is at all “football shaped” you will have astigmatism. The less it is shaped like a basketball and the more it is shaped like a football, the more astigmatism will be present and the more the vision will be blurred.

Fortunately, almost all astigmatism can be corrected (actually compensated for, the glasses and…



Dr. Daniel Laby

Eye Doc for Pro Athletes | 30+ years of experience | Want to improve your performance? Go here 👉