Stigmatism vs Astigmatism: A Comprehensive Guide

Have you encountered the terms Stigmatism vs astigmatism and got confused about them as they appear interchangeable? Well, Stigmatism and astigmatism are both common eye problems affecting vision quality. According to a study, astigmatism accounts for around 13% of refractive errors in the eye. Though both eye conditions impact the curvature of the cornea or lens, they also have some differences. This article will thoroughly understand the meaning of Stigmatism and astigmatism, their differences, causes, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention measures. Read on!

Understanding Stigmatism

Wondering what is astigmatism? What does Stigmatism mean? Well, Stigmatism of eye meaning refers to an eye condition that arises due to the distortion in the shape of the lens, cornea, and even the whole eyeball. This eye problem leads to blurry vision and even blindness in severe cases which profoundly affects the quality of life of a person.

How common is astigmatism? To your knowledge, astigmatism is prevalent. Out of 3 people, 1 is struggling with this eye problem. People with this condition experience pain or discomfort while performing everyday tasks like using the computer and mobile phones or watching television. If neglected, Stigmatism can lead to irreversible visual impairment; that is, an individual cannot retrieve the original or near-normal eyesight.

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The main factors contributing to Stigmatism may include the shape of the cornea, lens or whole eye, genetic components, and some medical diseases and conditions. A medical history of Stigmatism in a family can also be the reason. People with parents struggling with severe Stigmatism might have more chances of developing this kind of eye condition. In addition, previous eye surgeries or injuries to the eye can lead to corneal abnormalities in some patients that also cause Stigmatism.

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People suffering from the Stigmatism of the eye can experience certain discomfort. The symptoms of Stigmatism can range from unpleasant to severe in some people. The most common signs are:

  • Blurred Vision

  • Eyestrain

  • Headaches

  • Dizziness

  • Double vision

  • Problem seeing clearly at different distances.

  • Difficulty reading small texts or focusing on objects close and far away.


For diagnosing the Stigmatism, ophthalmologists or optometrists perform a comprehensive eye exam of the patients. This examination might include the following activities where the professionals go for visual acuity tests by asking the patients to read the letters designed on an eye chart. They also have a keratometry test which helps to decide the actual measurement of the cornea’s curvature. With the results of these tests, ophthalmologists can quickly identify the presence and severity of this eye condition and provide suitable treatment.

Understanding Astigmatism

What does astigmatism mean? Astigmatism is an eye condition that is typically a refractive error in the eye, affecting how light penetrates the eye and gets focused on the part of the retina. In the astigmatism case, the lens or cornea or both have an irregular curvature shape which causes light to focus on different points of the retina. This results in distorted or blurred eye vision at close and far distances. People having astigmatism see things differently than those having normal eyesight. When we compare astigmatism lights vs normal vision, astigmatism lights seem blurry, streaked, or haloed as the lights scatter instead of focusing directly on the retina. On the other hand, normal eye vision is sharp and clear as the lens and cornea focus the rays of light directly on a single point of the retina.


Various factors contribute to astigmatism, including eye injuries, genetics, or eye surgery. This eye disorder can occur with refraction errors like farsightedness (hyperopia) or nearsightedness (myopia). In some cases, people can have astigmatism from the time of their birth or can develop later in their life because of certain factors like changes in the shape of the cornea, injuries to the eye, or genetics. There is no evidence why some people are born with unevenly curved corneas. A family history of astigmatism can be a reason. As per research, preterm babies have an increased risk of developing astigmatism than full-term babies.


Wondering what does astigmatism look like? If you have astigmatism, your eye may be elliptical or football-shaped. Astigmatism symptoms usually coincide with the signs associated with astigmatism, such as blurry vision and discomfort. However, the most common signs of astigmatism might include:


The diagnosis of astigmatism is conducted through the same eye exam used for detecting stigmatism symptoms. All those eye examinations include a visual acuity test, a corneal topography test, or a refraction test. These tests benefit patients struggling with astigmatism as they help determine the presence and severity of this eye condition. Refraction tests help detect refractive errors, while keratometry tests use a keratometer, which effectively measures the cornea’s curvature.

Stigmatism Vs. Astigmatism: The Key Differences

While Stigmatism and astigmatism have similarities as both impact vision, these eye conditions also have specific differences. When it comes to Stigmatism, this eye condition affects the cornea or lens of the eye, which is curved unequally in a single direction. On the other hand, astigmatism affects the cornea or lens, which is then curved unevenly in numerous directions.

This means that Stigmatism can lead to distorted or blurred vision in only one direction, while astigmatism can lead to distorted or blurred eyesight in different directions. Also, the diagnosis and treatment of both types of eye illnesses differ a little, like for diagnosing and treating astigmatism, there requires additional exact measurements of the lens or cornea. The most common eye diseases also impact your vision.

Also Read: Astigmatism, Contact Lenses, and Headaches

Treatment Options For Stigmatism And Astigmatism

Stigmatism and astigmatism, both eye conditions, can be managed skillfully with the help of different treatment options. The treatment focuses on correcting the curvature irregularities and improving vision clarity. The selection of treatment options will depend on the patient’s preferences and the severity of the condition. The following are the treatments involved:

Eyeglasses And Contact Lens

Eyeglasses and contact lenses are frequently and initially used to treat Stigmatism and astigmatism. The specially designed eyeglasses and lenses help prevent both eye conditions by changing the light path entering the eye’s retina. These eyeglasses can typically correct astigmatism to 20/20 vision.

In severe cases like irregular astigmatism, normal vision may not be achieved. On the other hand, eye lenses like toric lenses can counteract the unevenly curved cornea or lens. They redirect the light entering the eye to ensure a clear and single focal point on the retina.

Laser Eye Surgery

Laser eye surgery options like LASIK or PRK can be beneficial for people looking for a more effective permanent solution. These procedures permanently reshape the cornea with the help of a laser, which improves eye abnormalities, including astigmatism and Stigmatism.

LASIK uses great-precision lasers to make corneal symmetry better giving a permanent correction in case of mild astigmatism. Moreover, in PRK surgery, the outer cover of the cornea (epithelium) is removed before a laser reshaping the inner cornea. The epithelium develops again following the surgery. PRK is the most promising alternative to LASIK for individuals with thin corneas or dry eyes.

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Orthokeratology (Ortho-K)

Orthokeratology (Ortho-K) is a non-surgical procedure that uses rigid contact lenses to reshape the irregular curvature of the cornea temporarily. It is the best alternative to surgery. The patients are asked to wear the fixed contact lens for a limited time. Most ophthalmologists recommend wearing the lenses at night and removing them during the day.

People undergoing orthokeratology treatment can have clear daytime eyesight without corrective lenses. The benefits of this treatment are only when the patient wears the lenses. After removing them, the vision will return to its previous range.

Also Read: 5 Most Common Eye Problems Explained

Prevention And Care

While you might not prevent Stigmatism and astigmatism caused due to genetics, some steps you can consider to lower the chance of developing these eye conditions and promote good eye health.

  • Wear protective eyewear during activities that can raise the chance of eye risks, like intense sports or unsafe tasks.

  • Go for a regular eye check-up to identify and address any unexpected changes in your eyesight.

  • Try to minimize digital eye strain with the 20-20-20 rule: for every 20 minutes and at least 20 seconds, look straight at an object 20 feet away.

  • Maintain a nutritious diet with minerals and vitamins that promote good eye health.

  • Stay hydrated by drinking 8-9 glasses of water.

  • Avoid smoking, as the contents of smoke are linked to a higher possibility of vision problems.

Also Read: Which Food is Good for Eyes?

Summing Up

It is essential to have a clear idea of Stigmatism vs astigmatism to make the right decision regarding your vision health. If left untreated, Both eye conditions can severely impact your life quality. However, you can maintain precise and comfortable eyesight with effective treatment options and preventive and care measures. Routine appointments with licensed ophthalmologists, commitment to advised treatments, and proactive actions to support eye health will enable you to explore the world entirely with clarity and confidence.

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