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    Understanding Stigmatism Vs. Astigmatism

    Eye care can be confusing, especially when you’re not familiar with the terms your optometrist is using. Fortunately, Payne Glasses is here to help clear things up by helping you understand the difference between a stigmatism and an astigmatism. Understand the similarities, the differences and what the two terms mean to take the confusion out of your next eye appointment.


    A stigmatism is an eye condition caused by the cornea, the lens or the entire eyeball becoming distorted in shape. A stigmatism causes blurry vision or even blindness, significantly impacting the person’s life. People suffering from a stigmatism of the eye can feel discomfort or pain when doing normal activities like watching television or using a computer. If untreated, a stigmatism can lead to permanent visual impairment. Stigmatism is a general term used to describe an irregular shape of any of a number of parts of the eye.


    An astigmatism is also an eye condition, but only affecting the shape of the cornea. Astigmatisms are relatively common and occur whenever the cornea has an irregular curvature. An astigmatism can be mild or severe and is easily diagnosed during an eye exam. An astigmatism can go undetected for years and generally doesn’t cause any discomfort or pain. An astigmatism can be considered a specific type of stigmatism.

    Causes and Symptoms

    A stigmatism occurs when the cornea, lens or eye has an irregular shape. This prevents light from entering the eye correctly, causing blurred vision. Stigmatism of the eye tends to be hereditary, but it can also be caused later in life by disease or trauma to the eye. Symptoms include blurry vision when looking at objects far away, headache, dizziness and double vision. Like a stigmatism, an astigmatism is also thought to be hereditary. Symptoms of an astigmatism also include blurry vision. Headaches, eyestrain and dizziness are also symptoms of an astigmatism, as the condition often causes squinting to try to correct the blurry vision.

    Diagnosis and Treatment

    Both stigmatism and astigmatism are diagnosed by an optometrist or ophthalmologist though a series of tests. The eye doctor may need to dilate the eyes and use a special lens for the test. The examination will often take into account other medical conditions or previous injury to the eyes before the diagnosis of a stigmatism or an astigmatism is made. Treatment for both stigmatism and astigmatism involves corrective lenses in the form of either contacts or glasses.

    Because your vision changes throughout the course of your life, it’s important to get regular comprehensive eye exams. During these exams, your eye doctor will be able to check for any changes in the shape of your eye or cornea, catching an abnormality early and correcting it with the right lenses. Your optometrist will also be able to tell if you’re at risk of developing either a stigmatism or an astigmatism later. Early detection greatly improves the outcome of either condition and helps prevent side effects associated with a stigmatism or an astigmatism. It is thought that protecting your eyes with UV-blocking sunglasses when spending time outdoors can be helpful in preventing a stigmatism or an astigmatism.



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