Are you having issues with blurred dots when you look through a red dot sight? It may not be related to the sight. It may be astigmatism, and there are options.
Have you ever looked through a red dot sight and noticed that the image isn’t crisp and clean as you expected it to be? If what should be a dot instead looks like a comma or a star, or if you see several dots instead of a single one, you might need to learn about astigmatism and red dot sights. While the issue can be related to a shoddy sight, it can also be associated with a medical condition affecting the eyes.
Understanding What Astigmatism is All About
Astigmatism is an eye condition that happens to be quite common. It means that the lens or cornea of your eye is shaped irregularly. When this condition is present, light cannot enter the eye to meet a focal point found at or behind your retina. Because eyes with astigmatism aren’t able to focus light rays on a single focal point, it distorts your vision. Regardless of how far away you are some an object, it may appear to be blurry or have another anomaly.
Many people have a mild case of astigmatism and have no idea about it. It’s rather common for a hunter to purchase a red dot sight and use it, only to think it’s defective when the actual issue is astigmatism. We’ll explain how to determine the differences between the two a little later in this article.
There are many options for treating astigmatism, such as getting glasses, contact lenses, or even having surgeries like LASIK. While this can offer an improvement to your overall vision, it can also end up being quite expensive. However, there’s never anything wrong with improving your vision and eye health.
Determining Whether Astigmatism or a Red Dot Sight is the Issue
The first thing to be aware of is what a red dot tends to look like to someone with astigmatism. The truth is that different people can experience a variety of anomalies to a red dot sight. Some of the most common include:
- Blurry dots
- Double dots
- Commas, apostrophes, or smears
- Clusters of dots
You might be wondering how you can decide whether the issue is a defective red dot sight for your own eyes. The good news is that there are several things you can do at home to determine if there is an issue before you speak with an optometrist.
Take a Photo Through Your Red Dot Sight
Grab your smartphone camera and take a picture of the dot through the sight first. Since the camera doesn’t have astigmatism, it will offer an exact image of what the dot looks like. If you view the photo and it’s a crisp, round dot, when your issue may be related to astigmatism, which means you should speak with someone about an eye appointment. However, if the dot is distorted in some way, this could mean the sight has a defect.
Ask a Friend to Look Through the Sight
While having one person look through your scope can offer insight into whether it has a problem, having a few different friends do this is the best option. Since astigmatism is quite common, some people will have it and not know it, which may mean they will experience the same issues with a red dot sight. This isn’t the most reliable method possible, but it can help.
Take Out Your Back Up Iron Sights
Another option that you can try is using the red dot sight along with your traditional iron sights. This is another way to get an accurate picture of what the dot looks like. If you are still experiencing fuzzy or blurry images, that could be related to your own eyes and is another sign that you should see a medical professional.
Try Rotating the Position of the Red Dot
When it comes to astigmatism and red dot sights, one of the ways to determine the issue is by rotating the red dot. Take the sight in your hands, get a visual on the dot, and move the sight either counterclockwise or clockwise.
One of two things will happen. The first is that the anomaly with the red dot will stay in the same position while you rotate the sight, which means it is likely astigmatism. On the other hand, if the doc anomaly moves as you change the orientation of the sight, the sight itself could be defective or experiencing problems.
Options for Using a Red Dot Sight When You Have Astigmatism
You might be curious about why this visual distortion is so common with a red dot sight but not seen with other optic options. This all comes down to the way that a red dot sight functions, which is that a lens reflects a red dot from an LED back to your eye. When you have astigmatism, the reflection of light doesn’t work the way it should.
However, there are some options to continue using a red dot sight that you can try out.
Turn Down the Brightness of the Red Dot
One thing to try is turning the brightness down on your sight, which sounds like an all too simple solution, but it does work. When you have the illumination at its max brightness, especially in low light or the indoors, the dot can appear to starburst, bleed, or halo. However, turning the light down a bit may provide you with a round, clear dot that you can use.
Consider Green Illumination Rather Than Red
Many hunters with astigmatism find that green illumination is less likely to distort than red is, so choosing green sights may be helpful. It can also help to choose reputable brands and high-quality sights to overcome issues with your vision. Some models are going to have dots of lower quality, so green illumination isn’t going to help there. Green illumination on a high-quality sight may help mitigate some of the blurriness of astigmatism.
Try Wearing a Pair of Polarized Glasses
For some people with astigmatism, polarized glasses help, while others do not see much improvement. However, polarized lenses are made to straighten out scattered rays of light before they enter your eye, which helps focus the incoming light into a single point to reduce the effects of astigmatism. However, polarized glasses come in many different levels of quality, so you may need a decent pair to see any difference.
Simply Work With the Astigmatism and Red Dot Sights Issues
This may not be a valid option for everyone, but if you have mild astigmatism and the level of influence on the red dot is minor, you can choose to work with it. Even if the red dot you see is shaped like a comma or comes out as a double dot, this can still be used as a point of aiming. You may not be able to take perfect minute of angle (MOA) shots, but the red dots are helpful to get you on target as quickly as you can.
Seek Out Treatment for Your Astigmatism Problem
Getting treatment for your astigmatism, such as surgery or glasses, can be helpful for some people. Still, there is no guarantee that this will cure you and offer the ability to see a red dot afterward correctly. Some will find it helps immensely, while others may need to work with their positioning and method of looking through the lens, and some will always see a soft edge on the dot.
Getting some kind of treatment while working with a doctor can help improve the way you see red dots with astigmatism.
Red Dot Sights and Other Options for Those with Astigmatism
The most common type of red dot sights that cause issues for those with astigmatism is reflex style. There are also prismatic and holographic red dot sights, which have their pros and cons but also tend to be less problematic for anyone who has astigmatism. While what works for you is going to be unique compared to others, some of the options below might be good choices.
Holosun HS510C Open Reflex Circle Dot Sight
If you’re determined to stick with a red dot sight when you have astigmatism, the best choice is the Holosun HS510C Open Reflex Circle Dot Sight. This 2 MOA dot scope offers nearly perfect clearness for most people without blurriness or distortion. Also, it provides three different reticle options, including:
- Single circle
- Single dot
- Circle with a dot in the middle
For those who have astigmatism, this is an excellent feature. You can try the small red dot at 1 MOA or the larger red dot at 65 MOA to determine which offers a better hunting experience for you. It also happens to provide a titanium-alloy body for durability, a shock-resistant hood, and an unlimited field of view.
Other features of this red dot sight for astigmatism include the ability to be powered by solar power and batteries and an integrated QD mount that makes it simple to mount and remove.
Vortex Optics Spitfire 1x Prism Scope
Prism sights are another option for those who have astigmatism, and the Vortex Optics Spitfire 1x is a great example. This is because a lens and etched glass are used to create the reticle, which reduces distortion and can alleviate the issues associated with astigmatism. However, these can be bulky and heavy, so those who want a light scope may not be happy using it.
The reason we chose the Spitfire 1x is because it removes or nearly eliminates the starburst effect for most individuals, so all you have left is a sharp, bright reticle for your shooting. It also has a dual tactical ring with both red and green illumination as well as 12 different illumination settings so you can adjust it for your specific eye.
The reticle with this sight is excellent for both short and long-range shooting and makes a fantastic choice for someone who has astigmatism but prefers not to use corrective lenses. Some of the features include:
- Lack of a blurry or starburst dot
- A longer than average eye relief
- Included rails
- Clear etched reticle
- Short to long-range abilities
- Green and red illumination
Another perk with this model is that it comes with a lifetime warranty, so if something goes wrong, you can get it repaired, no matter when that occurs.
Sig Bravo3 Battle Sight
The final of our top recommendations for those with astigmatism is the Sig Bravo3 Battle Sight. It’s highly rated by hunters who have astigmatism with great features like identical magnification, crystal clear glass, and an adjustable diopter. It has a wide field of view compared to many red dot sights and will be easier to use for those with this vision issue.
It’s also a prism version, so it has all the same perks as the Spitfire 1x that we went over above. The quality of the glass on this sight is superb and offers a fantastic level of clarity that even expert hunters will appreciate. It provides an easy to use illuminated horseshoe dot reticle that might work better than a red dot scope will for those with astigmatism.
If you have a red dot sight that isn’t working the way it should be, consider that it may not always be the fault of the product. Even if astigmatism is the issue, there are solutions to the problem to ensure you can aim and shoot with the best of them. It might take some effort and time to find the right red dot sight (or alternative) when you have astigmatism, but there are plenty of options.
While most people wouldn’t say that astigmatism and red dot sights go together, some are going to offer a better experience than others. It’s up to you to decide whether this is the right option for you when compared to corrective vision procedures or using a prism sight instead. Now that you know your choices, you can start deciding the right path to take for yourself.