Astigmatism is a common condition where the eye is not quite round or spherical. In fact, most people have astigmatism, but mild cases don’t require correction. Both glasses and contact lenses can correct more severe cases of astigmatism, which causes noticeably blurred and distorted vision.
Glasses can improve these vision errors by aligning corrections with the eye’s “meridians.” These meridians can be vertical, horizontal or oblique. Different types of contact lenses—soft, gas permeable and toric lenses—can be prescribed for individuals with astigmatism depending on eye shape and surface characteristics. A professional with special expertise in correcting astigmatism will help determine which type of contact lens is best for you.
- Soft spherical lenses—the most common type of contact lens—do not correct for astigmatism because they focus light equally from all directions. However, those with mild astigmatism can wear this type of soft contact lens. These lenses are popular because they allow oxygen to reach the cornea and are exceptionally comfortable.
- Spherical gas permeable lenses are a good solution for more extreme cases of astigmatism. This rigid material actually molds the front surface of the cornea, allowing the eye to perform better. This type of lens is usually best for individuals with corneal scarring.
- Hybrid spherical lenses use a gas permeable center and a soft perimeter. This gives the wearer the correction of a gas permeable lens with some of the advantages of soft lenses.
- Toric lenses have multiple powers, similar to bifocal contacts. They correct astigmatism and nearsightedness or farsightedness. The toric lens—which can be either soft or gas permeable—aligns the appropriate lens powers with each meridian. A special mechanism keeps this lens in proper alignment when it is selected and fitted correctly. Toric lenses are more expensive and require more time and expertise during fitting.
Some types of corneal scarring can prevent you from wearing contact lenses. You eye care professional will determine the best options for your prescription and help you choose the product that is best for your vision and budget.
There are many brands of contact lenses and a variety of materials and designs to choose from. The FDA has approved extended wear contact lenses for astigmatism, including rigid gas permeable options. Schedule a consultation to find the contact lens for astigmatism that provides you with the best in comfort and vision.