Discovering that you have an astigmatism in one or both eyes should not be a cause for concern. In reality, the majority of people have some level of astigmatism, and many individuals are born with this condition.
Typically, astigmatism indicates an irregular shape in the cornea, leading to blurry vision at various distances. While a minor astigmatism may not result in vision issues, a significant astigmatism requires correction. Astigmatism might add a slight complexity to your prescription, but it doesn’t hinder your ability to obtain corrective lenses tailored to your lifestyle.
Astigmatism may sound more ominous than it truly is, with the term carrying a negative connotation due to the inclusion of ‘stigma.’ In essence, astigmatism signifies an irregularity in the shape of the cornea, the front surface of the eye, rather than any severe condition.
The nature of astigmatism lies in the cornea not having a perfectly spherical or round shape; one corneal contour is more curved than the other. A helpful analogy is comparing the shape of a soccer ball (perfectly round) with that of a rugby ball (egg-shaped), though the impact on the eye is more subtly pronounced.
Common symptoms of astigmatism encompass blurry or distorted vision at various distances, eyestrain, and headaches, particularly when engaging in activities that require intense focus, such as reading or prolonged screen time. Difficulty driving at night may also be a notable symptom. For individuals experiencing headaches during prolonged screen use, it’s worth considering astigmatism as a potential factor in their visual discomfort.
Yes, contact lenses can be used to correct astigmatism. However, it’s crucial to recognize that standard soft lenses may not be suitable for individuals with moderate (0.75 to 2.5 diopters) to high (more than 2.5 diopters) astigmatism. These lenses, being soft and malleable, may not provide the necessary stability and may shift on the eye. As soft lenses conform to the natural eye curvature, they may not effectively address more significant astigmatism by providing the desired rounded shape.
Therefore, selecting the appropriate contact lens type is essential for effectively correcting astigmatism. For individuals with minor astigmatism, regular soft disposable contact lenses without astigmatism correction may be the most suitable option.
1- Toric Contact Lenses:
Toric lenses are the most common and widely prescribed contact lenses for astigmatism. They are specifically crafted to correct the irregular shape of the cornea or lens, providing clear and focused vision. Toric lenses have different powers in different meridians of the lens to address the varying degrees of astigmatism. These lenses are available in soft and rigid gas permeable (RGP) materials, offering flexibility for users with different preferences.
2- Soft Toric Contact Lenses:
Soft toric lenses are made from flexible, water-absorbing materials, providing comfort and easy wear. They come in various designs, including single vision, multifocal, and daily disposable options, catering to the diverse needs of individuals with astigmatism. Soft toric lenses are suitable for mild to moderate astigmatism and are often favored for comfort and convenience.
3- Rigid Gas Permeable (RGP) Contact Lenses:
RGP lenses for astigmatism are composed of rigid materials that allow oxygen to pass through to the cornea. These lenses provide crisp vision and are durable, making them suitable for those with higher astigmatism or irregular corneal shapes. While they may take some time to adapt to, RGP lenses offer excellent visual acuity and can be a preferred choice for specific individuals with astigmatism.
4- Hybrid Contact Lenses:
Hybrid lenses combine the benefits of soft and RGP lenses, featuring a rigid center surrounded by a soft outer skirt. This design aims to provide the clear vision associated with RGP lenses and the comfort of soft lenses. Hybrid lenses are particularly beneficial for astigmatism patients who may find pure RGP lenses uncomfortable.
5- Scleral Contact Lenses:
Scleral lenses are expansive gas-permeable lenses that arch over the cornea and rest on the sclera, which is the white part of the eye. They are often recommended for individuals with irregular corneal shapes, including those with astigmatism. Scleral lenses provide stability, comfort, and improved vision by creating a smooth optical surface over the irregular cornea.
It is crucial to note that all contact lenses require a doctor’s prescription tailored to the specific shape of your eye. Even if you plan to order from an online contact lens retailer, an eye examination and consultation with an eye doctor are imperative to obtain the most up-to-date prescription. The eye exam not only ensures the prescription accuracy but also assesses the overall health of your eyes.
Regular eye checkups with your doctor are essential for monitoring the fit of your contact lenses and ensuring optimal eye health and vision.