Contacts and Astigmatism
How many times have we heard individuals bemoan being forced to wear glasses? One of the most common reasons you’ll undoubted hear is “I can’t wear contacts because I have astigmatism.” Well, truth be told, the idea that you can’t wear lenses because of this condition is a myth that far too many people buy into.
Astigmatism is a vision condition that causes vision to blur due to an irregularly shaped cornea, lens of the eye, or even the cover of the eye. Astigmatism is a very common disorder. In fact, most people have some form of astigmatism (however slight it may be); the good news is that astigmatism can now be fully corrected with contact lenses!
To find which contact lenses are optimal for you it is always best to consult with your eye care professional, so they can give advice tailored to you; but it is good to be informed of the options. An eye doctor is the only person who will be able to tell how much astigmatism you have—which is critical in deciding which specific description is for you. For more information on the different contact lens styles, check out our post How to choose the right contact lenses for your lifestyle. There are a whole slew of contact lens brands and variations to choose from—and some are specifically designed for astigmatism.
The first step in addressing astigmatism is to find out to what degree you are affected; generally astigmatism is measured in diopters. If a doctor determines that there is not much astigmatism, you may not need special contacts and can wear regular contacts. If a doctor determines that you need special contacts for astigmatism, there are fewer lens options designed for significant amounts of astigmatism (unfortunately, there is no standard definition of “significant amount of astigmatism” it is a doctor’s judgment call.)
– Astigmatism of .75 diopters is about the lowest that any toric lens is designed to correct.
o A toric lens is a soft contact lens specifically designed to compensate for the irregularities of astigmatism; as well as correct any vision problems such as nearsightedness and far sightedness. If you have less than .75 diopters of astigmatism, say .6 diopters, a toric lens might not provide additional benefit over a normal soft contact lens.
o Toric lenses are generally more expensive and may feel a bit different than normal lenses. The doctor should be able to advise if the vision correction benefits would be equal between normal and toric lenses. It may be worth trying samples of each for a week to see which works better for you.
If a doctor determines that toric lenses are the right lenses for you…what brand should you go with? Well, most newer designs work very well—so brand names should not make much difference. However, some brands make their lenses in a wider range of options. The following contact lenses are some of the most popular lenses for astigmatism:
o Made by Johnson and Johnson. These contacts are designed to keep moist while wearing (prevent dry eyes), have good breathability, and provide a good fit. These contacts are replaced every 2 weeks if worn daily and removed/cleaned at night; or can be worn 6 days in a row and then replaced.
o Made by Cibavision. These contacts are designed for maximum oxygen permeability, consistent fit, and comfort. These are monthly disposable lenses that are meant to be removed and cleaned with solution each night.
o Made by Coopervision. These contacts are designed for all day comfort by allowing large amounts of oxygen to the eye, and reducing dry eyes with a special Aquaform Technology. These contacts can be worn 7 days straight and replaced, or as daily wear lenses removed/cleaned each night and replaced after a month.
If you have astigmatism, know that you have options—including many contact lens options! The days of glasses being your only form of vision correction are over. With this article you should be able to have an informed discussion with your eye care professional and find the best pair of contacts for you. Always remember, you can try out as many sample pair of contact lenses as you want—the eye doctor should understand and want to find the most comfortable and well performing lenses for you. Let us know about your experience with contact lenses for astigmatism in the comments section.