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 here?
It’s probably your eyes.
In fact, you may have a relatively common eye problem that affects your ability to use red dots:
And In today’s article, I’m going to show you the red dots that’ll solve your eye problem.
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’s 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 survived these tests, 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.
The surprising part?
Astigmatism isn’t only a problem for those who have poor sight. It also affects those who have perfect 20/20 eye vision.
What can you do about it?
Buy an astigmatism-friendly optic…
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 the best 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 if needed, try 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…
Holosun Paralow HS503G
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 shoot further distances (above 400 yards).
- EOTECH G33.STS 3x Magnifier in TAN
- Magnification - Fixed 3x magnification in compact design
- Quick Transitions - Switch-to-Side mount allows instant transitions between 1x and 3x magnification
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 the best LPVO, then I highly recommend the Holosun Paralow HS503G.
I also use it as my best AR-15 optic. But if you’re going for an even lighter red dot, then go with the…
The Meprolight M21 is small, ultra-compact, and fairly lightweight (13.6 ounces) — making it a great AR pistol optic option. But the main reason why I’d pick the M21 is the reticle.
More specifically, the triangle reticle.
Although it bleeds a bit in low light conditions, it’s very crisp and defined in bright conditions. If you do need a sight for low light conditions, check out my night vision scope reviews.
In fact, it uses fiber optics and tritium to power the reticle. Which means you don’t need any batteries to illuminate the reticle.
The glass is clear. It has a large field of view. And the sight is battle proven(originally designed for the Israeli Special Forces).
To put simply:
The Meprolight M21 is military grade. It’s reliable, clear, and accurate. The triangle reticle is very sharp and could help out with your astigmatism (as it did with others).
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).
So put another way:
If red dots aren’t your thing, then you might want to consider the best holographic sights for your astigmatism.
Holosun HS510C Reflex Sight
If you’re looking for the best holographic sight 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.
- The Holosun HS510C New advanced technology LED allows up to 50,000 hours of operation on one CR2032 battery
- 2 MOA dot and a 65 MOA ring, Dot only, Ring only, or Dot and Ring reticle combinations
- Unlimited field of view, Titanium-alloyed, shock resistant hood
Vortex Optics Razor AMG UH-1
The Vortex Razor AMG UH-1 (also known as The Huey) is a solid holographic sight if you have astigmatism.
The reticle doesn’t ‘starburst’ or look like a ‘vine of grapes’. It’s very clear and sharp thanks to the single fused holographic element design.
It has a large field of view and virtually no glare. Battery life isn’t an issue (micro USB port available). And the durability is just solid.
However, it’s quite bulky. In fact, it weighs a whopping 1.15 pounds. That’s MUCH heavier than the Holosun HS510C (8.3 ounces).
Besides that, the Razor AMG UH-1 is a great holographic sight that delivers crisp view and a clear reticle.
- The AMG UH-1 Gen II is a close-quarters solution built for military and law enforcement shooters, offering an incredibly fast holographic display to conquer any situation, now with four night-vision...
- With the UH-1 Gen II, you get an improved sight picture through the enlarged viewing window, making target acquisition even faster, and easy battery changes with the toolless battery cover, plus a...
- The lightning-quick EBR-CQB reticle is designed to dominate in close, and our FHQ technology virtually eliminates stray light emissions for zero forward signature.
Speaking of clear views, if you need 10/22 optic, check out my best Ruger 10/22 scope buyers guide.
The Eotech 512 is a mixed bag.
- EOTECH 512.A65 - Holographic Weapon Sight in black with 68 MOA ring & 1 MOA dot reticle
- Mount - Compatible with both 1" Weaver and MIL-STD 1913 Rails
- Adjustable Brightness - The 512 has 20 brightness settings for use in any lighting scenario
Some people had success with it. While others see the dot as a peanut.
The great thing about the Eotech 512 holographic sight is that it has multiple reticle options like the Holosun HS510C (1 MOA dot reticle & 68 MOA ring).
Which means, you could try out both MOA options to see which one your eye prefers.
However, a few folks that I know say they can’t use an Eotech reticle, despite the different reticle options. It’s either too blurry, fuzzy, or too funky looking.
That said, I wouldn’t recommend getting an Eotech 512 (unless you’re able to try it out in-person).
Instead, I’d opt-in for a Holosun HS510C. It’s sharper and clearer.
Best Prism Sight for Astigmatism
Prism sights (and LPVOs) work the best for astigmatism.
Because 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.
Otherwise, here are the best prism sights for astigmatism…
Vortex Spitfire 3x
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. In fact, it’s one of the best shotgun scopes on the market.
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.
- The Spitfire 3x Prism Scope excels in close to medium range shooting applications where fast target acquisition and speed is of the essence. The prism based design allows for a compact optical system...
- Fully multi-coated lenses with anti-reflective coatings offer bright views even in low light conditions. A selectable red/green illuminated reticle features five intensity levels to match the...
- The reticle is etched directly on the prism ensuring shooters have an effective point of aim at all times regardless of illumination. A fast focus eyepiece adjusts the reticle into sharp focus.
If you’re more into old-school shooting, check out my best muzzleloader scope guide.
Primary Arms SLX 3×32
The Primary Arms SLX 3×32 is a budget-friendly alternative to the Trijicon ACOG.
The glass is clear. Eye relief is plenty. And most importantly:
It helps with astigmatism.
Once you get a bit of practice with the optic, you can effectively shoot with both eyes open.
It doesn’t need batteries to operate. However, you do have the option to illuminate in case you’re shooting in extremely low or bright conditions.
The feature I liked the most is the ACSS reticle.
The 1 MOA center dot is sweet for precise shots and doesn’t obscure too much of the target…
…while the large ring works great for close-range shots. It even estimates ranging, windage, and moving target leads out to 600 yards — making it one of the best scopes for 6.5 Creedmoor
If the Spitfire 3X isn’t available, the next best prism sight for astigmatism is the Primary Arms SLX 3×32.
It’s got everything you need and more.
- Fixed 3x magnification with ACSS CQB-M2 reticle for fast target acquisition in close quarters or medium range
- Fully illuminated reticle with 11 brightness settings powered by a common CR2032 battery
- Includes removable top Picatinny rail and thumb screw modular base mount with spacer for different pattern rifles
Just like the Eotech 512, the Burris AR-332 is too a mixed bag.
It works for some, while blurs for others.
I’ve used the Burris AR-332 (not for astigmatism) and I liked the sight… a lot.
It has great class, holds zero, and it’s rugged. It even comes with a free Burris Fastfire 3 red dot sight and Picatinny Mount.
That’s cool and all, but does it help with astigmatism? It might. It might not.
That said, you’re better off getting a Vortex Spitfire or Primary Arms SLX. They’re proven prism scopes that has helped thousands of shooters with astigmatism.
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.
If you need to find the best rifle scope mounts for your LPVO, check out my guide on them.
With that, here are the best rifle scopes for astigmatism…
Primary Arms SLX 1-6x24mm
The Primary Arms SLX 1-6×24 is the best budget riflescope for astigmatism.
It’s also the best 17 HMR scope. Here’s why:
- 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.
- Variable 1-6x magnification second focal plane scope features the ACSS Standard reticle for 5.56\5.45\.308
- ACSS reticle combines BDC, wind holds, moving target leads, and range estimation in an easy to use system
- Partial red illumination with 11 brightness settings powered by a common CR2032 battery
Vortex Optics Strike Eagle 1-6×24
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.
But you might be wondering:
Is the Strike Eagle 1-6x better than the Primary Arms SLX 1-6×24 riflescope?
- The Strike Eagle 1-6x24 is defined by speed and versatility. Adjust to six power when you need to engage targets at a distance
- High quality, fully multi-coated lenses deliver a clear, crisp sight picture and optimal low light performance
- The illuminated, glass-etched BDC reticle features 11 illumination settings to accomodate for changing light conditions. An extra battery can be stored in the windage cap and easily released
Vortex Viper PST Gen II 1-6×24
Looking for the best rifle scope for astigmatism under $600? Get the Vortex PST Gen II 1-6×24.
The reticle is diamond clear, set in the second focal plane, a large eye box with tiny bezels, and fine adjustments.
I’ve had nothing but praise for the PST series, as you’ve probably seen in my 6.5 Creedmoor scope guide.
In a nutshell:
I HIGHLY recommend the PST Gen II 1-6×24 if you’re looking for a premium, ‘daylight bright’ illuminated riflescope that rocks at close-to-medium range distances.
And that’s all there is to red dots for astigmatism. Here are some additional tips on…
How to Fix Red Dot Astigmatism
Here are a few tips to help fix red dot astigmatism:
- Optics – Get one of the astigmatism friendly optics from above.
- 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.
- Corrective Lens – 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.
Truth be told:
Astigmatism varies from person to person.
Some people claim holographic sights like Aimpoint work. For others, they are even worse than red dots.
So your best bet would be to try to look at different optics. If it doesn’t work out, you can always return it back to Amazon within 30 days.
This will save you time and your hard-earned money. Plus, you’ll be able to find the best optic for astigmatism for you.
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.