Contact Lenses for Astigmatism: What to Know Before You Buy
Do you experience a blurry vision at all distances? Well, this may be because you are suffering from astigmatism. To determine if you are really suffering from astigmatism, you have to undergo a series of tests for vision clarity at all distances. Many people who suffer from astigmatism may have a clear and sharp vision, but the symptoms may be manifested in their case through headache, fatigue, squinting and eye discomfort.
What is Astigmatism?
Astigmatism does not signify that you have "bad eyes." The term medically denotes a condition of variation or disturbance in the corneal shape. The refractive error that accompanies astigmatism mainly occurs due to the disturbance in the focus of light rays within the cornea due to an irregular corneal surface.
Is there any possible way out with Contact Lenses for Astigmatism?
Even a few years ago, there were no contact lenses available for astigmatism and it meant that you were stuck with a lousy pair of glasses notched on your nose. However, with the new-age technologies and advanced toric contact lenses designed especially for astigmatism, patients with astigmatism can use different types of contact lenses – yes, even the coloured ones too!
The first thing that you have to do before picking contact lenses for astigmatism is talking to your eye-care practitioner. After a thorough eye examination, he/she should give you the correct prescription for your contact lens with the detailed degree of astigmatism in each of the eyes. Also, discuss with him/her about your personal preferences as contact lenses for astigmatism now come in both RGP and soft contact lenses. Some patients who cannot stand the discomfort associated with RGP lenses can now easily opt for soft toric contact lenses. What’s more, these soft toric contact lenses are now available in disposable, frequent replacement, multifocal, or coloured varieties!
What Are Toric Contact Lenses?
There is not much difference in the materials of regular ("spherical") contact lenses and toric contact lenses. The difference lies in the design of the contact lenses made for astigmatic patients who have an irregular corneal surface. Also, toric contact lenses are designed such that the lenses remain stable on the surface of the eye even when the user blinks and looks around.
Options for Mild Astigmatism
Patients with mild astigmatism (less than 1.00 diopter) can opt for wearing regular spherical GP lens. Spherical soft contact lenses are also a good choice for these people. Astigmatism, with an intensity more than 1.00 diopter, can be corrected with spherical gas permeable lenses. However, given that they are very uncomfortable to wear, not too many people are keen to pick them up as their first choice. Toric Gas Permeable lenses with asymmetric posterior surface are seemingly best for eyes with high corneal astigmatism as the posterior surface of the lens conforms closely to the irregular corneal surface of the astigmatic eye.
Soft or RGP Contact Lenses
As discussed earlier, it is evident that rigid gas permeable contact lenses retain their shape when placed on the irregular cornea of the patient’s eye. This way, it helps the user to have a sharper and clearer vision than the vision aided by soft toric lenses. The difference in vision is considerably minor, but for the ones too fussy about the acuity of their vision, soft toric lenses may fall below the desired expectation.
Interestingly, more and more people now are choosing soft torics instead of RGP lenses and compromising with the visual acuity as the immediate comfort of soft lenses over RGP lenses cannot be denied.
Colour, Disposable, and Multifocal Toric Choices
Thanks to the new-age discoveries in ocular science, all the leading brands of contact lenses now produce different toric contact lenses to suit your eyes and cater to your personal choices. Soft toric contact lenses are available as frequent replacement and even daily disposable lenses now. They are also available in a wide range of colours so that along with the correction of astigmatism, you can also add drama to the colour of your eyes.
For astigmatism patients suffering from presbyopia, multifocal torics are available, however, generally as non-disposable. Though soft toric multifocal contact lenses are manufactured by different brands, RGP lenses are mostly prescribed for the purpose.