Contact lenses can be a great alternative to wearing glasses for many people. But not all refractive errors require the same type of correction.
Glasses are often the first choice of correction for things like near and farsightedness or astigmatism. But even a more complicated prescription from astigmatism can be corrected with contact lenses.
One important thing to remember is standard soft contact lenses likely won’t be practical for correcting most astigmatisms. Your doctor can perform a contact lens fitting exam to find a fit. But toric lenses or scleral lenses are 2 common choices for astigmatism correction.
What Is Astigmatism?
Astigmatism is a common refractive error. It happens when your eye or its lens is abnormally shaped. Typically the eye has an evenly round shape. But astigmatism occurs when it’s more oval or egg-shaped. A good visual picture of this would be a basketball versus a football shape.
Doctors aren’t sure what exactly causes astigmatism, but 1 in 3 people have it. Some people are born with it, whereas others develop it later in life—even into adulthood. Eye disease, injuries, or eye surgeries can potentially cause astigmatism to develop.
Symptoms of Astigmatism
Other refractive errors like myopia (nearsightedness) or hyperopia (farsightedness) affect either distance or near vision. But astigmatism can actually affect either depending on how the curve of the eye or lens affects how light enters.
Symptoms of astigmatism may include:
- Blurred vision
- Eye strain
- Low night vision
- Squinting to see clearly
Prescription eyeglasses and contact lenses are the 2 most common ways of correcting astigmatism. But it’s important to note that astigmatism doesn’t always need correction if it’s not causing vision problems. Another potential option for correcting or fixing astigmatism is refractive laser eye surgery. Eye surgery could be especially beneficial if you’re dealing with more than 1 refractive error.
This is ultimately a conversation you should have with your eye doctor. They can consider your overall eye health, vision needs, and any other factors when recommending an approach to clear vision.
Contact Lenses for Astigmatism
In most cases, a normal soft contact lens won’t be suitable for correcting astigmatism. Toric lenses are the preferred type of contact lenses for most astigmatisms.
Soft Toric Lenses
Soft toric lenses may be suitable for mild or moderate astigmatism. A soft contact lens is typically more comfortable and easier to get used to wearing. But they can be harder to fit for some astigmatisms because a toric lens needs to be aligned to a certain point on the eye for clear vision.
Rigid Gas-Permeable Lenses
An alternative to soft lenses is rigid gas-permeable (RGP) lenses. These often have a longer adjustment period because they are made of firmer material. But once your eye has adapted to an RGP lens, it can provide clearer vision than a soft lens. They are also resistant to being dislodged from your eye.
A hybrid lens is a combination of soft and RGP materials. The center of the lens is made of the harder RGP material, while the outside is typically a soft hydrogel material. These lenses tend to offer the visual benefit of an RGP and maintain the comfort of a soft lens.
Scleral lenses are larger RGP lenses that fit over the cornea and rest on the white part of the eye—the sclera. These lenses may be a good solution for someone with an irregular-shaped cornea or chronic dry eye.
But in addition to their other benefits, a scleral lens may be an option for correcting astigmatism. Because they’re separated from the cornea by a pocket of solution, a scleral lens creates a more regular eye surface to refract light.
Discuss Contact Lens Options with Your Eye Doctor
There is rarely a one-size-fits-all answer to getting crystal clear vision because no one’s eyes or vision needs are the same. Maybe the only vision problem is astigmatism, or perhaps there are multiple refractive errors at work.
Give us a call at 2020 Eyecare Ohio if you’re not seeing as clearly as you want to. Our team in Loveland can get you in to see one of our experienced eye doctors for a comprehensive eye exam. Then we can put together a personalized plan to meet your vision needs.