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Contacts for Astigmatism: Are They Right for You?

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If an eye doctor has told you that you have astigmatism, you may have wondered if contacts for astigmatism are a good treatment option.

Astigmatism refers to a change in the regular shape of your eye. If you think of a regular eye as the shape of a basketball, then an eye with astigmatism is shaped more like a football. A misshapen cornea or lens stops light from properly entering the retina, which is the light-sensitive tissue at the back of your eye. This leads to blurred vision.

Astigmatism is one of many types of vision issues. You can be born with it, or it can develop when you are an adult. Though astigmatism can't be prevented, it can be easily corrected.

Here's what you should know about astigmatism treatment, especially when it comes to using contact lenses for astigmatism. Learn more from the eye care professionals at EyeCare Associates.

How astigmatism is corrected

There are a few options for addressing astigmatism, including both corrective lenses and longer-term treatments. These are:

  • Glasses. Eyeglasses can help with sharper vision by adding more power in certain parts of the eyeglass lens.

  • Contact lenses. Previously, the only type of contacts for astigmatism were rigid gas-permeable (RGP) lenses. Now, a type of soft contact lens called toric contact lenses can also be used for astigmatism.

  • Laser and refractive surgery. You may have heard of a type of eye surgery called LASIK, which is short for laser in situ keratomileusis. Another type of eye surgery is called PRK, or photorefractive keratectomy. Both surgeries can reshape the cornea to correct your astigmatism and eliminate the refractive error in your eyes.

  • Orthokeratology. Also called ortho-k, this approach reshapes the cornea by using a series of rigid contact lenses worn for certain lengths of time before removing them. This helps people with moderate astigmatism temporarily enjoy clear vision without lenses. Note that ortho-k is a specialty not practiced by all optometrists; ask your doctor if this may be an option for you.

Types of contacts for astigmatism

EyeCare Associates provides a variety of specialty care contact lenses that can help treat astigmatism. These lenses are a little different than your standard daily disposable lenses.

Both rigid gas-permeable contact lenses and toric soft contact lenses are contacts that can correct astigmatism. However, each one works a little differently.

Rigid gas-permeable lenses are made with plastic and other materials. They keep their shape but also let more oxygen flow through the lens than most soft contact lenses do. By keeping their shape, they can make up for the irregular shape of your eye when you have astigmatism.

RGP lenses can also help improve vision if you have astigmatism and a condition called keratoconus. Keratoconus is a condition that makes your cornea thin and bulge out in a cone-like shape.

Rigid contact lenses often last longer than soft contacts, sometimes as long as two to three years. That can save you money on replacing the lenses.

Soft hydrogel contact lenses are made with different types of plastics and are more flexible. Most patients find that it's easier to get used to wearing soft contact lenses because they are generally more comfortable and easier to put in. Toric soft contact lenses are specifically made for people with astigmatism, though rigid lenses usually provide sharper vision.

Pros and cons of using contacts for astigmatism

There are some pros and cons you'll want to consider before choosing contact lenses for astigmatism correction and visual acuity improvement.

Pros

  • Toric soft contact lenses and rigid gas-permeable lenses are specifically designed to correct your astigmatism.

  • Contact lenses are often more convenient than glasses, especially if you participate in sports or other physical activities.

  • Your eye doctor will let you try your contact lenses temporarily (usually for a week or two) so you can make sure they help your vision and are comfortable.

  • Many people find that it is easier to see a full range of vision with contacts versus eyeglasses.

Cons

  • It can take a while to find contact lenses that have the right fit.

  • Contact lenses for astigmatism often cost more than regular soft contact lenses.

  • Rigid gas-permeable lenses are more likely to slip off-center from your eyes. This makes it harder to get used to them.

  • Soft contact lenses typically need to be changed every day, every week, or once a month, depending on the type of contacts that you have. That could make your costs add up.

  • You have to remember to replace your contact lenses following the schedule that your eye doctor recommends.

  • You will need to return to your eye doctor regularly, usually once a year, to monitor your vision and obtain a new prescription.

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Schedule an eye exam at EyeCare Associates

Finding the right contact lenses for your astigmatism may seem difficult, but your eye care team is ready to guide you through the process. Let your eye care team know if you are interested in contacts for astigmatism. Your eye doctor will advise you on the options that are the best fit for your visual needs.

Find an EyeCare Associates location near you and schedule an eye exam today.