Have you ever looked through a red dot sight and felt like the dot was blurry, streaked, or distorted? If so, you may have astigmatism – a common vision condition that impacts how your eyes focus light.
Astigmatism can make red dot sights frustrating and ineffective to use. But here’s the good news – switching to a quality green dot sight could solve your problems!
In this guide, we’ll dive into the science behind astigmatism and dot sights. You’ll learn why the green vs red dot astigmatism debate even exists, along with practical tips for choosing the right optic. We’ll cover topics like:
- How astigmatism actually impacts your vision
- The key differences between green and red wavelengths
- Real experiences from other shooters with astigmatism
- Recommendations for dot size, brightness, and other features
- And most importantly, how to test optics yourself to find what works for YOUR eyesight!
Let’s get started!
What Is Astigmatism?
Astigmatism is a common vision condition where your eyes have slight irregularities in the curvature of the cornea or lens. This prevents light from focusing directly on the retina, making images appear blurry or distorted.
About 30% of people have some degree of astigmatism. Yours could be mild or quite severe. Symptoms include:
- Blurry vision at all distances
- Halos or starbursts around bright lights
- Headaches or eye strain from working at a computer
- Difficulty seeing at night or in low light
The exact cause isn’t always known. Sometimes it’s genetic, or it can develop later from injury or disease.
The important thing is understanding that astigmatism makes it hard for your eyes to focus light waves accurately. This will become really apparent when looking through a red dot sight.
How Red and Green Dot Sights Work
Let’s cover some basics on how optics like red dots, holographic sights, and reflex sights work. This will make the astigmatism issues clearer.
These sights use LEDs or lasers to project a dot (or other reticle shape) that your eye sees when looking through the lens. The dot is projected forward on a spherical lens, so it stays centered as you move your eye.
With a red dot sight, the LED emits a red light wavelength, usually around 650 nanometers. Green dot sights use an LED in the 520-535nm range instead.
Here’s where astigmatism rears its head. Our eyes have cones that detect red, green, and blue light. But people with astigmatism have issues focusing and processing the longer red wavelength clearly.
The result? The crisp dot turns into a blurry blob or streaked line. Not ideal for aiming!
Red Dots and Astigmatism Don’t Mix Well…
The vast majority of people with astigmatism report that red dot sights are frustrating. No matter how much you try to focus, that red dot remains a smeared mess!
John, who has moderate astigmatism says:
“When I look through a red dot sight, it’s a starburst shape with streaks going in every direction. Almost like blurred fireworks. Makes it really hard to find the exact center of the dot against a target.”
Another user, James, has a similar experience:
“I have lots of trouble with red dots. The edges are really distorted looking with a red halo or aura around them. Almost more distracting than helpful for aiming accurately.”
Even for mild cases, red dots often aren’t crystal clear. The dot might look slightly blurred or elongated. Still workable, but not ideal.
This all comes down to the science of how our eyes interpret light. The long red wavelength is hard to accurately focus.
Red dots do have some benefits though:
- Battery life is amazing – often 50,000+ hours!
- They’re cheaper than green dots, generally.
- Red is visible in low light.
But for most people with astigmatism, the distortion causes too many issues. Let’s check out how green dots compare…
Can Nystagmus Affect the Use of Green or Red Dot Astigmatism?
Green Dots for Astigmatism: A Clear Improvement
Here’s the game changer – green dots practically eliminate the distortion issues caused by astigmatism!
The shorter green wavelength is easier for your eyes to process crisply. Jeremy, who has severe astigmatism says:
“I tried multiple red dots that were all unusable smears. Bought a quality green dot on a whim and it was like night and day! The dot is perfectly clear without any of the starburst effects that drive me crazy.”
Green dots do have some disadvantages:
- Shorter battery life – around 10,000 hours usually
- They cost 2-3x more than most red dots
But those are small tradeoffs for the ability to actually see the dot properly!
For almost all levels of astigmatism, a green dot will give a clearer sight picture than red. The only exception might be very mild cases.
Plus, the dot appears brighter to our eyes at the same power level as a red dot. An advantage both indoors and out.
Other Factors When Choosing Your Sight
The green vs red decision is a big one, but there are other variables to consider too for optimal performance.
- Larger dots may be easier to acquire quickly
- But precision aiming requires a small 2 MOA dot
- Try 3-5 MOA green dots to start
- Beside the dot, look for circle dot or crosshair styles
- Give you reference points to center the dot
- Adjustable through a wide range
- Lets you optimize for lighting conditions
- 1-6x or 3x magnifiers are common
- Can fine-tune dot appearance when magnified
- Go with trusted brands like Aimpoint, Trijicon, Holosun, etc.
- Avoid cheap knockoffs with flawed lenses
- Mount sight as far forward as possible
- Ensures optimal eye relief and field of view
- Train regularly with your optic to build proficiency
- Learn tricks like both eyes open shooting
Recommendations for Your Astigmatism
If you’re struggling with a red dot, here are my tips:
Get an Eye Exam
Have an optometrist verify astigmatism and measure your prescription. You may need glasses/contacts to see dots clearly.
Try Before You Buy
Test red vs. green in store if possible. Bring along any vision correction you use.
Start With Green Dots
Especially if you have moderate/severe astigmatism. Get a 5 MOA green dot from a quality brand first.
Use Indoor Range Lighting
Dots look crisper under bright indoor range lights. Mimics daylight shooting.
Check for Distortion
Look for any smearing, streaking, halos etc around the dot when testing.
Consider Larger Dots
If the dot is still imperfect, go up to 7 or 10 MOA. Maximizes visibility.
Use indoor and outdoor modes to adjust intensity for conditions. Don’t max it out.
Confirm Proper Eye Relief
Dot should be clear when you bring the gun up quickly to your eye.
Magnify the Dot
Try adding a 3x magnifier to fine tune the dot shape if needed.
Finding your perfect sight takes some trial and error. But with smart tactics, you’ll get there!
Having astigmatism doesn’t mean you’re forced to use iron sights. Far from it!
While most red dots are frustatingly blurry, a quality green dot sight resolves the issues for all but the mildest cases.
Follow the tips above to compare optics yourself and zero in on the right one for your eyes. With the perfect sight, you’ll get crisp aiming and never look back!
Now grab a green dot (or two) and get shooting! Your astigmatism is no match for the right gear.