View Full Version : Astigmatism: Why does my Red Dot look like S***!!!

08-21-2011, 05:04 PM
I thought that I would start this thread since I have just recently found out that I have astigmatism. It is certainly new to me since up until recently I would have nevered guessed this to be my case. My thoughts were that astigmatism was a condition that people only had if they have bad eyesight of one kind or another. I have never had a thorough eye exam since all of the minor exams that I have had for physicals have shown that I have had better than average vision (20/10 or 20/13). But, age has a way of catching up to you and my vision as deteriorated to normal vision. Well, my left eye might be slipping a little more.

After I have noticed that my newly acquired RMR does not look like a crisp, perfectly round dot, I began to do some research. Although, this issue has come up a few times on WT and elsewhere, I tend to believe that most people that don't know that they have astigmatism probably think that the Red Dot is just to suppose to look that way--that is not crisp and round in shape. Astigmatism is quite variable in scope and degrees for different people. Here is a short list of some of the ways a Red Dot may look with astigmatism:

1. A cluster of dots or a blob. This could be dots overlapping or not. It can be in half size dots or other portions as well, but, in general, it is a group of dots that can be defined or blurrly.

2. Starbursting. This can be in conjunction with clusters. It can be radiating or nonsymetrical with various "arms" in shapes or sizes. It can appear fuzzy.

3. Abnormal shape. It can appear oval or as a line of some type. It may appear as a comma without a sharp tail.

4. Halo. I have read that some see a halo, but it tends to be more related to those that have had eye surgery or Lasik.

I have read numerous accounts of people returning a possibly defective unit only to find out after receiving a new one that their vision was the problem. Here are a few rudimentary methods of tests to see if your Red Dot optic or your eyesight is the possible problem:

1. Take a picture with your camera. Cameras don't lie--Right??? You may have to zoom in (before or after the snapshot) on the image of the dot to compare. Still look bad? Then maybe your camera has astigmatism--I'm sure there is a more correct word for this case.

2. Poke a hole in a business card and look through the hole and find the dot. This supposedly cuts back on the light entering the eye and relieve the symptom(s) of astigmatism.

3. While looking at the optic/dot, rotate the unit. If the (problemed) dot moves with the unit then you may have a defective optic. If the (problemed) dot remains stationary while the unit is turning then the issue is mostly likely your eyes.

What can be done? Don't give up and assume that all Red Dots are the same. There just might be one or two out there that may work for you. In my research, I have read numerous accounts of the various optics that have worked for some people that have astigmatism and had issues with other Red Dots. It varies--just like astigmatism. For example, some people that have used EOTechs have stated that they cannot use an AimPoint and vice versa. But, there are some reoccuring themes that I have come across that have worked for "MOST" people.

1. An LED Red Dot that electronically emits the image to the glass is normally an issue. An adjustable and/or smaller "LED" Red Dot has "helped". This tends to be the case in people that have mild astigmatism.

2. A dual illuminated Red Dot does not seem to be as intense as an LED version with the exception of being in a bright condition while shooting into darker areas. I have heard that a piece of tape can remedy this issue.

3. A larger, less intense dot seems to help in general. Please note what was mentioned in #1 about the smaller dot for "LED" versions.

This is a little off of the subject of handguns, but here it is.

4. In general, most people have the least amount of issues with ACOG's, in particular the Green. This seems to be the case with etched reticles more often than not although other models have been mentioned. In particular, the 1.5x ACOG's (green) seem to get the most satisfaction from people with astigmatism.

5. Having a peep sight limits the amount of light directed in the eye and reduces the astigmatism effects like the hole in the business card test does.

6. While not a Red Dot optic, a scope is usually used without issue for people that problems with Red Dot optics and require magnification of some kind.

I am not a doctor so take this for what it is worth. This is just a summary of some of the information that I have gathered in my research.

Gabriel Suarez
08-21-2011, 05:29 PM
I have mild astigmatism and my dots look more like ovals running from 1:00 to 7:00. I can still hit eyeballs at 5 yards and chests at 100 though. It is what it is....even with $4K eye surgery (back in 2005) the dot looks like an oval. I will say the Dual Illuminated looks more like a true dot, but then we have the compromise of what the dual illum brings. I think that for guys with very pronounced effects the 3.5 MOA may offer a benefit of a smaller dot to begin with. Anyone try it?

Regardless, the dot is still better for what you want to accomplish than a fuzzy front sight or a big fat lollypop big dot IMHO.

08-21-2011, 05:42 PM
I only have one kind of red dot, and it's not the one that you mention so I don't know if this will apply to your problem or not.
Burris Fastfire II

When I look at the dot itself, it fuzzes-out and seems to grow and get blurry -- but as soon as I focus past the dot and onto my target (like it's supposed to be done) the dot cleans up perfectly and is nice and crisp.


08-21-2011, 05:59 PM
At times with mine I have to clean the window with eye glass cleaner and that helps. Also it seem how bright the light is as to how round the dot is.

08-21-2011, 06:03 PM
My only experience is with Eotechs but I have found that dimming the illumination helps quite a bit. I can't wait to try an H-1 and see how that goes but it is a $$ issue right now.


08-21-2011, 06:27 PM
Good info, ALthough I need reading glasses thank god that is all for now, I am sure the rest is on the way.

08-21-2011, 10:36 PM
I have the same issues. A eotech looks like fireworks, the 8moa RMR looks like a star. A aimpoint dialed down low is okay for me but has to be pretty dim. Good info in the post.

08-21-2011, 10:52 PM
I gotta keep my red dots on a low or medium setting depending on ambient light conditions. I usually have starbursting effect when it comes to holgraphic sights.
As for irons, ugh, it's just a chore to keep that front sight focused.

08-21-2011, 11:01 PM
I will say the Dual Illuminated looks more like a true dot, but then we have the compromise of what the dual illum brings. I think that for guys with very pronounced effects the 3.5 MOA may offer a benefit of a smaller dot to begin with. Anyone try it?

Gabe, when I took your Red June classes last year, I had a chance to examine a dual illum on a MP9 that you had. I must admit that I really didn't study it as much as I like, but with a fading memory, I think that I had no problem see a clear image of the dot even though it did not seem too intense. The RMR02 (8 MOA) that I have now is a different story. Much depends on the lighting conditions and the general fatigue of my eyes throughout the day. At best, it can look like a brighter dot with a dimmer half dot to the right. At worst, it is a cluster of three dots in the horizontal with the false image appearing as the crisper one (the one that I tend to think is the right one)--it is about a 20 MOA cluster with some starbursting.

I think that the dual illum is the safest bet, but with it's limitation I would be more willing to try an adjustable 3.5 MOA because at worst it shouldn't be more than 12 MOA and with adjustment it could be reduced or eliminated altogether. Leave it on auto and use the adjust for the finer shooting when time allowed for it. (Unless the adjustable RMR's feature an auto with compensation for manual fine tune???). Regardless, since you have slight astigmatism, do you notice an improvement with the ability to manually adjust? Is it better with the 3.5 MOA?

08-22-2011, 11:10 AM
I have astigmatism in both eyes which is one reason I prefer a fixed rear buis on my rifles; for longer range shooting I use a combination of rear sight and RDS to get a more clear dot picture.

A slight hijack, but hopefully still pertaining enough to the Red Dot subject to squeak by.

Don, assuming that you are talking about AKs, what BUIS are you using in conjunction with your RDS for this clearer picture and where is your RDS mounted? Thank you.

08-22-2011, 06:35 PM
On an ak, if your rear sight notch has been widened a little you can run it up to the 500yd position and look through it like a peep sight. Same effect.

08-22-2011, 09:14 PM
Without my prescription glasses my EoTech looks like fuzzy crap. Once I put them on its clear. Same with my other red dot sights. Why I really enjoy the red dot mounted on my FNP .45 everything is clear. Without my glasses I can see the iron sights on my pistol clearly but the target is fuzzy.

08-23-2011, 04:07 AM
Sorry bro, I was talking about ARs.
Yea, I'm the redheaded stepchild of SI.:wink: :biglaugh:

Like Benny said in The Mummy, "Your courage gives me hope." I too stick to the AR.

08-23-2011, 01:23 PM
Does anyone else think that shooting makes it worse? I think mine has gotten worse since I spent 5 years shooting everyday.

08-23-2011, 03:35 PM
I dont think shooting makes it worse. My eyes are practically unchanged in 20 years, even if Doc doesn't see a problem with them I still have starbursting.

08-23-2011, 03:35 PM
Does anyone else think that shooting makes it worse? I think mine has gotten worse since I spent 5 years shooting everyday.

Eye strain can definitely make it worse.

Gabriel Suarez
08-23-2011, 03:50 PM
A fuzzy, oblong, or comma-looking red dot that you can see, and index upon the target while focusing on the target, is far better than an iron sight you cannot see under any circumstances.

08-27-2011, 07:09 PM
Dogface, once you go red dot; (maybe a T-1 or H-1) there is no return. Your eyes would thank you (if they could), you will certainly get more out of your rifle.

09-01-2011, 05:30 PM
So I guess the answer is try it and see what happens? I'm all screwed up. Astigmatism in both eyes. nearsighted ion my right eye (20/25), far sighted in my left (20/60), both corrected to 20/15.