Those who have astigmatism are all too familiar with how it messes with light perception.
Many lights you see in your everyday life, like traffic lights, for example, will have a bleeding effect around the edges, or maybe even sharp points around them when viewed at night.
Unfortunately, this happens with red dot sights too.
You can probably see where this is going and, if you can’t, maybe it’s time for that eye checkup you’ve been putting off. Since red dots are so small, the bleeding effect that astigmatism causes will throw off your aim.
Can you train yourself and accommodate for it with your own aim? Absolutely, but that defeats the point of using a red dot sight in the first place.
It's possible to get red dot sights that can accommodate people with astigmatism, so possible in fact that we’ve gathered five of them below.
In the interest of putting a variety of sights in front of you, we’ve chosen sights for pistols and rifles across shorter and longer distances, so there should be something for everyone.
We’ve also got a small buyers’ guide below for those of you who want to choose the best sights.
In a Hurry?
If you’re in a hurry, we can save you time by recommending the sight at the top of our list.
As we said, we’ve got a bunch of sights across different ranges and uses, so ranking them by the best wasn’t really an option here.
Our sight at number one is instead a mid-range sight called the Vortex Optics Spitfire 3x Prism Scope. It’s intended for DMRs since these tend to be the most popular, and so the most likely to be just what you’re looking for.
If it isn’t, check out the rest below, but for now let’s see what the Spitfire brings to the table:
- It’s a prism scope, which is chunky, compact, yet keeps the optical quality you’d want from sights like this. Its reticle has five intensity levels that help maintain that quality across different light environments.
- It has two mounting heights at 30mm and 40mm, and it’s quite versatile since it can support an offset auxiliary reflex sight. The scope’s lenses have been coated with anti-reflective coating too, brightening your view when looking through it.
- The body of the scope has been nitrogen purged to keep dust out and it’s made to be shockproof to withstand recoil. This also makes it able to take knocks and other accidental pressure. It’ll also arrive with a user manual that’ll teach you how to use and maintain the sight.
OUR TOP PICK
Our favorite sight for astigmatism is the Vortex Optics Spitfire 3x Prism Scope.
This is for two reasons, the first being that mid-range long-rifle scopes like this are the most popular, and the second being that prism scopes are the best for astigmatism.
This is because it’s not really a red dot, it’s a combination of lenses and etched glass that’s much harder to become distorted, so you don’t get that starburst effect that astigmatism sufferers are familiar with.
The downside to these sights is that they’re bulky, hence why they’re best applied to DMRs and other rifles with the space to accommodate them.
So, it’s a good sight with a red reticle for those with astigmatism, close enough, but what else does the Spitfire offer? Its DRT ring reticle comes in both red or green, depending on your preference, and between them, they have five variable illumination settings.
This is great for adjusting the reticle depending on how dark it is, but it can also be used for those who have light sensitivity as a result of their astigmatism to make the glowing sight more manageable.
In the same vein, the lenses of this prism scope are treated with anti-reflective coating that makes the view through it brighter.
This isn’t in a way that’ll trigger light sensitivity, it’s just the view through the scope appearing lighter than usual thanks to the coated prism lenses, making it perfect for low-light conditions without having to rely on a reticle that could irritate your eyes.
As for the body of this scope, it’s quite versatile in that it can be mounted at 30mm or 40mm, and it’s capable of having an offset reflex sight. This means you can combine this longer-range scope with a more immediate reflex sight that’s also astigmatism friendly for the best of both worlds.
The casing is also O-ring sealed and nitrogen purged, meaning dust has a hard time getting into it. As you’d expect with a rifle scope, it’s also shockproof to protect against recoil and other punishment this sight can sustain out in the field.
Overall, it’s a great option for astigmatism sufferers that levels the playing field in a non-intrusive way.
If you haven’t owned a prism scope before and you’re unsure how to keep and maintain one, you’ll be glad to know that a purchase of the Spitfire comes with its own user manual too.
- A medium-range prism-based scope that’s compact without sacrificing optical quality.
- Five levels of reticle intensity to match different shooting situations.
- Lenses are multi-coated with anti-reflective coatings, brightening your view even in low-light conditions.
- Capable of both 30mm to 40mm mounting heights and supporting an offset reflex sight.
- Nitrogen purged shockproof construction keeps dust out and ensures it won’t sustain damage from recoil or other knocks.
- Comes with a user manual so that buyers can get familiar with their purchase.
- Prism sights are large and bulky.
Next, we have a holographic sight. Yes, we know that a holographic sight is distinct from an RDS, but one of the principal differences is the way the light is reflected in the scope.
Holographic sights are, well, holograms projected onto the lens, so the light never enters your eye. If the light never enters your eye, it never gets distorted by the non-standard shape of your corneas and that gives holographic sights an undeniable advantage for those with astigmatism.
Consider the Holosun HS510C 2 Holographic Red Dot Sight an evolution of the typical RDS.
Since holographic sights use LED projections, it’ll need juice like any RDS. We’d recommend CR2032 batteries since they can achieve approximately 50,000 hours of working sights.
It’s possible to solar power the sight too if you have the requisite tech, so you do have your options in how you want to power this thing.
Now onto the sight itself. The reticle appears in one of three ways. It’s the classic setup for a holographic sight, so you may already be familiar, you have the choice between one red dot, a circular reticle without a dot, and then the dot and circle combo that many of us think of when we see the words ‘holographic sight.’
That’s for good reason too since it’s a great setup for covering 2 MOA with the dot and, in this case, 65 MOA with the circular reticle, ideal for the marksmen out there who want to pull off longer-range shooting with this reflex sight.
This is all tucked safely under a hood made from titanium alloy, so that isn’t breaking anytime soon, and the entire piece is easy to mount or dismount thanks to its QD mount.
This makes the sight a one-size-fits-all option where compatibility is concerned, so if what you’ve read so far interests you, we’d recommend you check it out.
- A holographic red dot sight that doesn’t rely on the eye’s perception of light to function, making it the ideal alternative option for an RDS.
- Three options on how the holographic reticle appears – dot, circle, or the classic dot and circle combination.
- Housed in a durable shock-resistant hood made from titanium alloy.
- QD mount integrated for compatibility and easy fitting/removal.
- Can be powered by both battery and solar power.
- Automatic mode adjusts poorly to bright light, use manual mode instead.
Here at the midpoint of our little list, we have our longest-range sight with another Vortex Optics sight, the Strike Eagle Riflescope.
It’s easy enough to find RDS or holographic sights that can work with your astigmatism but those are relatively short-range options for someone who’s sporting a full-on sniper rifle.
Sure, you’d probably be discounted from sniper service in the military on account of that astigmatism, but there are longer-range options that can support your eyes when hunting with your favorite long rifle, and this is one of them.
What sets the Strike Eagle apart from other riflescopes is the fact that it’s an LPVO. Low Power Variable Optic sights work well with astigmatism in the same way that prism scopes do, you’re dealing with illuminated laser-etched reticles that are harder to become distorted.
LPVOs are versatile, too, being capable of 1x target acquisition and then increased magnification levels for when you want to shoot longer ranges.
We’re reviewing the version with the BDC3 reticle, though the Strike Eagle does come with an EBR-4 variant too.
The BDC reticle is great since it’s easy to focus on, even with astigmatism, and has that bullet-drop interface that allows for holdover estimation when aiming further afield, assuming you have an idea of how far out your targets are.
The entire view through the lens is brightened by that same anti-reflective coating we saw with the Spitfire too, so shooting at dawn or dusk is a non-issue.
If you’re anything like us, you can’t tolerate longer-range scopes that need you to detach from that eyepiece to see what your magnification is.
The Strike Eagle solves this by having magnification indicators visible to you when you’re sighting through the scope, allowing you to focus everything on your target.
It should also be said that the scope itself is nitrogen purged and O-ring sealed, so there’s no worry of moisture building up and fogging your lenses from within.
- A longer-range scope option that uses LPVO sighting to tame astigmatism distortion while aiming at multiple levels of magnification.
- Illuminated BDC3 reticle is easy to focus on and has markings that enable bullet drop and wind resistance calculations.
- The anti-reflective coating increases light transmission to brighten your view through the sights.
- Magnification indicators are visible without you coming off the scope.
- Nitrogen purged and O-ring sealed so that moisture and dust won’t make their way in.
- A tight eye box means this is a scope you’ll need to practice with to place shots consistently.
As our fourth option, we have something from Holosun again. That’d be the Holosun Paralow HS503G Red Dot Sight, our recommendation for those of you who need a handgun sight that’ll play nice with your astigmatism.
Now, we say this is an RDS, and it is, but it’s more a chevron-and-three-red-dots sight. The chevron is great for close proximity target acquisition while the red dots correspond to distance measurements. The tip of the chevron also acts as a center dot for precise shooting within 300 yards.
This busy CQB reticle comes with ten brightness settings to choose from, allowing you to pick the one that fits the current lighting environment and doesn’t cause any distortion to your eyesight.
Once you’ve got everything in order, you just need to nudge your firearm a little to turn the sights on, no switches or buttons required.
You’re spoiled for mounting options with this RDS because it comes on a removable 1913 Picatinny rail base while also arriving at your door with a 1/3rd co-witness riser mount, so whatever gun you’re packing, you should be able to get a successful fit.
If your astigmatism is difficult to manage or you want to shoot further distances, combining this holographic sight with a magnifier might do the trick. This is another purchase that can cost just as much, if not more, than the sight itself, however.
If you do have the money to burn, we’d recommend the EOTech 633 Magnifier. EOTech is a known brand on the same level as Vortex and Holosun themselves, so you can be sure it’s made to a premium standard.
- An RDS that uses a chevron sight that’s perfect for close and mid-range shooting.
- Ten brightness settings for you to choose from.
- Turns on with just a shake of your firearm.
- Comes with removable 1913 Picatinny rail base and 1/3rd co-witness riser mount bring
- mounting versatility to this sight.
- Works better when combined with the EOTech G33 Magnifier.
Our last holographic sight is last purely because of its price and the fact that it’s another sight that’s best used with the G33 Magnifier, which is another costly purchase.
This is the EOTech 518 Holographic Weapon Sight, which sports a 1 MOA dot reticle and a 68 MOA ring reticle for short to mid-range application.
It has a side-mounted button that’s ideal for use with the G33 Magnifier, which makes sense since they’re from the same manufacturer.
Those reticles have an impressive 20 brightness settings, so you can rest assured that at least one of them will be perfect for your astigmatism, and you have many lighting conditions covered, to boot.
The price may be well worth it for the warranty alone, however, since you get EOTech’s Prestige Warranty. This covers ten whole years of protection from damages that aren’t your fault.
- A holographic sight with a 1 MOA dot reticle and a 68 MOA ring reticle.
- 20 adjustable brightness settings have every light scenario covered.
- Has a side button that supports the G33 Magnifier.
- EOTech prestige 10-year limited warranty.
- An expensive holographic sight.
- Also requires the EOTech G33 Magnifier to get the most out of it.
Best Red Dots for Astigmatism Buying Guide
Buying the Best Sights for Astigmatism
This buyers’ guide should help you learn more about the kind of sights you should be looking for.
We’re focusing on sights that are astigmatism-compatible, obviously, but a lot of the info here can also be used to make sure other sights and scopes are up to a certain quality.
If you don’t like our suggestions above, this guide can still help you see if another scope you’ve had your eye on will be up to our standards.
We’ve separated the functions and components of sights into subheadings, so you can easier find the info you’re looking for and read it.
RDS, LPVO, or Holographic?
While true RDS’s exist, many use the term interchangeably for sights with illuminated reticles, so let’s make sure we’re all on the same page as to what RDS, LPVO, and holographic sights are. Then we can see the advantages and disadvantages of each.
An RDS is just your standard red dot sight that works by establishing a small dot at the center of your sight. They usually don’t have magnification and they’re not reflex sights, those are different.
It’s quite a simple but accessible form of aiming for short ranges to mid-ranges at a stretch if you've trained well with your firearm. The big downside is that astigmatism sufferers might see a comma, a starburst, or even two dots. You can train yourself to fire accurately, but it’s incredibly distracting.
Low Power Variable Optics, and prism scopes since they work in a similar way where astigmatism is concerned, are great for astigmatism since they use an illuminated reticle that doesn’t rely on light entering the eye. If the light doesn’t enter your eye, it doesn’t poorly refract around your misshapen cornea and cause distortion, simple as that.
LPVO means that the scope starts at true 1x but can then have a higher magnification range for mid- to long-range applications.
Holographic sights also don’t cast much light into your eye, so they don’t get distorted as much. Instead, it’s just a laser hologram that’s been recorded onto the lens, so it’s illuminated by an in-built diode that doesn’t need eye interaction.
Your choice of which type of sight to get will depend on preference and which you think will work best for your astigmatism.
Reticle and Lens Quality
The reticle of your lens is where all the action happens, so a sight with a bum reticle is a glorified magnifying glass. The reticle needs to be visible and, if it has markings for things like wind resistance or bullet drop then even better, but those aren’t necessary for short-range use.
If you have astigmatism, finding a reticle capable of multiple illumination levels might be handy so that you have options, and can find the illumination level most comfortable for you.
If you have longer-range shooting planned, you’ll want variable magnification, that’s a given. We’d also advise you to check if the lenses of your chosen scope have an anti-reflective coating.
This naturally brightens the field of view in a way that won’t antagonize your eyes, so it’s a great way for astigmatism sufferers to get a sight that can handle dimly-lit shooting.
Durability and Construction
Many scopes are made from military-grade aluminum while you’ll want an equal or even more durable metal like titanium alloy for your smaller holographic/reflex sights. You’ll also want any sights you get to be water, dust, and shockproof.
This is usually done through O-ring seals that keep dust out and nitrogen purging that stops moisture from building up inside the scope. You can imagine how disruptive condensation in your scope can be.
These all create a stable environment inside the scope that also adds to the durability of the scope itself.