I am fairly short-sighted and wear glasses pretty much all the time. Naively, I would expect that when I take my glasses off, the image I see should look very much the same as as a photograph that's out of focus, or an image to which someone has applied a Gaussian blur filter. In bright conditions this is mostly true, but at night if I look at distant point sources of light, the blurry halos around them appear to have quite a complex structure, and a fairly well-defined edge. Why is this?
To make it clearer what I mean, and at the same time to make a hypothesis about the answer, here is a public domain image of some lights, taken with a camera out of focus:
(image source.) Notice that the image cast by each light is not simply a uniform circle. They are each slightly hexagonal; they are slightly brighter around the edge than in the middle; and there are distinct nonuniformities in the brightness in the interior of each shape.
What I see is actually fairly similar to this but much more extreme. The shape formed by a light is much further from a circle, being very irregular in shape and distinctly elongated in one direction. (This latter is perhaps not surprising given that I have a strong astigmatism.) The bright edge to the shape, and the non-uniformities in its brightness, are much more pronounced than in the camera image.
Now, in the photograph I know that the hexagonal shape is due to the hexagonal aperture in the camera. This can be ruled out in my eyes because my pupils are definitely circular. (Unless some light also passes through parts of the iris?) I would guess that the bright edges are caused by diffraction, and that the nonuniformities are caused by defects in the lens and/or dirt on its surface. I suppose that diffraction and lens aberrations must be the causes of what I see when looking at distant lights without my glasses.
So in the end, my question is mostly just, am I right about this? Are the shapes I see the result of defects in my eye's optics, and which specific anatomical features of the eye are likely to be their main causes?