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Contact Lenses for Astigmatism: What Can I Use?

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Astigmatism is a common refractive error that affects many people worldwide and can cause blurred or distorted vision at various distances. 

The quest for the perfect contact lenses to correct this issue can seem daunting, but with the right information, you can make an informed choice. Toric lenses are typically the first choice for astigmatism correction, but there are a few other options available.

One important thing to remember is that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer for vision correction. Some people may not be able to wear contact lenses, which means they will need eyeglasses instead. On the other hand, laser eye surgery may be a more permanent way to correct a refractive error. 

Ultimately, you’ll need to discuss your options with your eye doctor to determine which might be best for you.

Understanding Astigmatism

Astigmatism is a common refractive error that causes blurred vision due to an irregular shape of the cornea or the curvature inside the eye. This deviates from the typical roundness found in the majority of individuals. It’s essential to distinguish astigmatism from other visual impairments like nearsightedness and farsightedness, as each requires unique care.

Astigmatism affects how light passes through the eye, causing distortions in how images are received. The severity of astigmatism varies between individuals, which is why a comprehensive eye exam is crucial to determine the refractive error’s specifics.

Causes of Astigmatism

Genetics are typically a primary factor in astigmatism, making it likely for a parent to pass astigmatism to their child. Other causes may include:

  • Eye injury
  • Complications following eye surgery
  • Keratoconus
  • Too much pressure from the eyelid

Symptoms of Astigmatism

Blurry vision—near and far—is the first symptom most people associate with astigmatism. But other symptoms can include:

  • Visible glare or halos around lights
  • Squinting for clear vision
  • Headaches
  • Eye fatigue
  • Eye strain
A contact lens sitting on the edge of a case

Toric Contact Lenses for Astigmatism

Toric lenses are probably the most well-known type of contact lenses for astigmatism correction. Their design allows them to have different powers in different meridians to address astigmatism.

Precise Correction

Toric lenses have a unique shape to accommodate the asymmetrical curvature of the cornea or lens associated with astigmatism. This precise design allows them to counteract the uneven focusing power of the eye, thereby providing clear vision for individuals with this condition.

Enhance Visual Acuity

Toric lenses can improve visual acuity and clarity, particularly at near and far distances, enabling individuals to see more clearly without the distortion caused by uncorrected astigmatism.

Types of Contact Lenses for Astigmatism

Toric lenses may not always be the best option, and if your eye doctor determines this to be the case for your vision, several other types of contact lenses are available.

Hybrid Contact Lenses

Hybrid lenses combine the optics of gas-permeable lenses with the comfort of soft lenses. They have a rigid center with a skirt of soft lens material, providing sharper vision and more comfort than traditional gas-permeable lenses.

Gas-Permeable and Scleral Contact Lenses

Gas-permeable lenses, also known as RGP lenses, offer excellent visual sharpness. They maintain their shape on the eye, compensating for the irregular corneal shape associated with astigmatism. Scleral lenses are large diameter rigid contacts that cover the full corneal surface. 

Factors to Consider

There are several factors to consider when choosing contact lenses for astigmatism correction.

Prescription Accuracy

The accuracy of your lens prescription is the foundation of effective astigmatism correction. Your eye doctor can examine your eyes and tailor a prescription to your individual needs, factoring in the severity and axis of your astigmatism. They can adjust this prescription over time if the astigmatism changes.

Comfort & Fit

Contact lenses that don’t fit well can result in discomfort and may even cause damage to your eye. A comfortable and stable fit is necessary for successful astigmatism correction. New wearers might experience a period of adaptation, so consistent communication with your eye doctor is key.

Lifestyle & Activities

Your lifestyle can significantly impact the type of contact lenses that may be best for you. For example, daily disposables are ideal for those with an active lifestyle, while bifocal toric lenses cater to individuals who need correction for distance vision and other errors like presbyopia.

Pros & Cons of Different Contact Lenses

Each type of lens has its benefits and drawbacks. Toric lenses are widely available and ideal for astigmatism correction, but some may find them less comfortable than the non-toric equivalent. Hybrid lenses offer the clarity of RGP lenses with increased comfort, although they may be pricier than traditional soft lenses. The same is true for scleral lenses. 

Discuss Your Options with Your Eye Doctor

Contact lenses offer those with astigmatism a great alternative to eyeglasses. By understanding the available options and considering essential factors like prescription accuracy, comfort, and lifestyle, you can select lenses that provide the best vision correction for your unique eyes. 

Contact our team at The Eye Care Centre today to book your appointment

We have 3 locations through Red Deer, Rimbey, and Rocky Mountain House to serve you. One of our experienced optometrists can examine your eyes and determine which type of contact lens can get you the clear vision you need.

Written by Dr. Daryl Berger

Dr. Berger was born and raised in Red Deer. After studying at Red Deer College and the U of A, he graduated with honours from the optometry program at Waterloo in 2007. Daryl enjoys music, cars, biking, hiking, snowboarding and travel. He and his wife, Pamela, have twin boys and a dog named Gus.
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