Your brand new red dot sight just arrived.
You install the battery, turn it on, look through it, and…
…you aren’t seeing a red dot.
Instead, you’re seeing a starburst, a smear, or even a double dot:
What’s going on?
- Your optic is defective. Or…
- Your eye is defective.
Which one is it and what can you do about it?
Keep reading and I’ll show you…
Is My Red Dot Defective?
Here are three ways to find out:
- Picture – Use a camera and take a picture through the optic. If the picture shows a messy dot, it’s probably the optic. However, if the picture shows a single perfect red dot, then it may be your eyes.
- Iron Sights – Line up your red dot with the rear back up iron sight (BUIS). Is it still blurry? If so, it could be your eyeballs.
- Rotate – Aim at an object and rotate the sight without moving the dot off target. If the distorted image moves with the optic, then your red dot is defective.
If your red dot isn’t defective, then you most likely have astigmatism. Which brings us to the next point…
What is Astigmatism?
According to the American Optometric Association (AOA):
Astigmatism is a common vision condition that causes blurred vision. It occurs when the cornea (the clear front cover of the eye) is irregularly shaped or sometimes because of the curvature of the lens inside the eye.
An irregularly shaped cornea or lens prevents light from focusing properly on the retina, the light-sensitive surface at the back of the eye. As a result, vision becomes blurred at any distance. This can lead to eye discomfort and headaches.
To put simply:
Astigmatism causes blurry vision.
That’s why if the red dot is blurry, smeared, looks like a starburst, or is distorted in any way, you probably have astigmatism.
And get this:
Astigmatism isn’t only a problem for those who have poor sight. It also effects those who have perfect 20/20 eye vision.
What can you do about it?
Keep reading and all will be revealed…
How to Fix Red Dot Astigmatism
Here are a few tips to help fix red dot astigmatism:
- Corrective Lens – I’ve got great news: Most mild to moderate astigmatism can be corrected with prescription lens. (Either glasses or contact lenses). Book an appointment with your local optometrist to see which option is best for you.
- Brightness – Lower the brightness of your optic. You can also switch to a green-colored light. Why? Because green light is softer and easier on the eye.
- Aim – Focus on the target instead of the dot.
- BUIS – Shoot with a red dot and a peep sight at the same time.
- Polarized Sunglasses – Wear polarized sunglasses. It reduces glare and improves vision in bright conditions.
The last option is to switch optics entirely.
In fact, a lot of shooters fixed their aberration by using ‘astigmatism-friendly’ optics.
But keep in mind:
Astigmatism varies from person to person.
Some people claim holographic sights like Aimpoint work. For others, they are even worse than red dots.
So try to look at different optics in-person before you buy. This will save you time and your hard-earned money. Plus, you’ll be able to find the best optic for astigmatism for you.
With that said, I’ve listed the best red dots for astigmatism down below.
Let’s check them out…
Best Pistol Red Dot for Astigmatism
This is probably the style of sights you discovered your astigmatism with.
If so, there are a few things you should look for when buying a pistol red dot sight for astigmatism:
First, get a red dot with a larger MOA. The reason? It’ll help lessen the blur effect. Aim for a reticle with at least 4 MOA or larger. (Some people may find smaller dots work best for them).
Second, tweak the settings. Lower the brightness and switch to a green illuminated dot.
Lastly, cowitness it through a rear BUIS aperture (preferably the peep sight) to sharpen the dot.
With all that said, here are the best pistol red dots for astigmatism…
The Holosun Paralow HS503G is the best overall pistol red dot for astigmatism.
Most red dots are going to be blurry. Fuzzy. Distorted. Even the more expensive red dots like Aimpoint. But not the Holosun Paralow.
A friend of mine uses this exact optic to treat his astigmatism. “The red dot is extremely clear and crisp. No distortion whatsoever,” he told me.
To make it even easier on the eyes, he pairs it with an EOTECH G33 Magnifier. This allows him to transcend short range limitations to medium range shooting (above 400 yards).
But what about the optic itself?
Well, the glass is clear:
The ACSS reticle is bright and sharp:
And it’s lightweight and compact:
If you’re looking for a budget-friendly red dot sight that reduces astigmatism, has clear glass and as versatile as a 1-6x riflescope, then I highly recommend the Holosun Paralow HS503G:
Best Holographic Sight for Astigmatism
Instead of projecting the dot off a lens, a holographic sight (HWS) has the dot on the inside of the glass.
Because the light is not bounced into your eye, the dot may appear clearer and less distorted than the traditional red dot sight (RDS).
That said, here the best holographic sights that’ll help reduce astigmatism…
If you’re looking for the best holographic red dot for astigmatism, get the Holosun HS510C.
The 2 MOA dot is perfectly clear — no distortion or blurriness.
The best part?
The reticle has 3 different options:
- Single dot
- Single circle
- Circle with a dot in the center
This is perfect for astigmatism since you can try both the smaller red dot (1 MOA) or the larger red dot (65 MOA) to see which one works best for you.
The Holosun HS510C is the best overall holographic sight for astigmatism. It’s clear, rugged, has long battery life, and comes with multiple reticle options.
Best Prism Sight for Astigmatism
Prism sights (and LPVOs) work the best for astigmatism.
Because it acts more like a low powered scope than a red dot.
More specifically, it uses a lens and etched glass to produce the reticle. This helps reduce distortion, and in a lot of cases, fix astigmatism.
However, there’s a con to prism sights:
They’re large and bulky. So if you’re looking for a lighter optic, go for a holographic or red dot sight.
With that, here are the best prism sights for astigmatism…
If you asked me to pick you the best optic for astigmatism, I’d get you a Vortex Spitfire 3X.
First, it significantly reduces — if not, completely removes — the starburst effect (for most people). All you’re left with is a clear, sharp reticle.
Second, the DRT (Duel Ring Tactical) ring comes with red/green illumination and a 12 variable illumination settings. This allows you to adjust based on your individual eye.
Lastly, the EBR-556B reticle is awesome for both CQB and long range shooting.
To put simply:
If you have astigmatism and don’t want to get corrective lenses, I HIGHLY recommend the Vortex Spitfire 3X.
(Or the Vortex Spitfire 1X).
It’s got everything you need:
- No ‘starburst’ or blurry dot
- Crystal clear etched reticle
- Green/Red illumination
- Long eye relief
- Rails included
- Short-to-long range capabilities
Plus, it’s backed by Vortex’s bullet-proof Lifetime Warranty. So if anything happens to it, they’ll repair it for free. Forever.
Best Rifle Scopes for Astigmatism
Red dots and holographic sights rock at close range.
The problem is:
It’s not so good at medium-to-long range distances (unless you use a magnifier). Which means if you want a bit of magnification for longer distance shots, you’re going to need something else.
Enter: Low Power Variable Optic (LPVO).
Just like prism sights, it uses a laser etched reticle (which significantly reduces the distortion/starburst effect).
It’s also much more versatile. With an LPVO, you can use it at 1X magnification for fast target acquisition (just like a red dot)…
…AND have the capability of increased magnification for longer distance shots.
With that, here are the best rifle scopes for astigmatism…
The Primary Arms SLX 1-6×24 is the best budget riflescope for astigmatism.
It’s got everything:
- Clear glass
- ACSS reticle
- True tracking
- Fine adjustments
- Lifetime warranty
- 11-setting illumination
Put another way:
If you’re looking for the best bang-for-the-buck riflescope that’ll help your astigmatism and up your shooting game, get the Primary Arms SLX 1-6×24.
It’s also backed by Primary Arms’ Lifetime Warranty.
So if anything happens to the scope, they’ll repair it for free:
The Vortex Strike Eagle 1-6×24 is just as good as the Primary Arms SLX 1-6×24.
The glass is amazing. The BDC reticle is even better. It estimates bullet hold-over at long distances, provides reference marks for bullet drift, and can range distances.
It even comes with illumination, making shooting at dawn/dusk a breeze.
The turrets are positive. It tracks true. And it holds zero. If this scope sounds good to you, read my in-depth review of the Strike Eagle 1-8x.
But you might be wondering:
Is the Strike Eagle 1-6x better than the Primary Arms SLX 1-6×24 riflescope?
I wasn’t sure. So I did an in-depth comparison between the two scopes here.
Don’t View Astigmatism As a Curse
Astigmatism is a limitation.
However, don’t let it get in the way. Fact is, some of the best shooters have astigmatism.
If they’re able to overcome it, you can too. All you need to do is try the methods above and see which one works best for you.
But that’s enough from me. Now I’d like to hear from you:
Do you have astigmatism? If so, how did you treat it?
Let me know by leaving a quick comment down below. Also, if you’re looking for a laser range finding scope, check out this guide.