People commonly make the mistake of believing that if they have astigmatism they are unable to wear contacts. Today there are many options for people with astigmatism, as it is a pretty common eye condition. People with astigmatism have eyes that are irregularly shaped, like a football or egg, which makes finding the correct contact lens a bit of a challenge. Normal lenses may not fit comfortably, or may not provide enough clarity to the person wearing the lens.
Eye doctors now provide multiple options for people with astigmatism: Toric lenses, gas permeable lenses, and hybrid lenses.
If you have astigmatism, different areas of your eye need different amounts of correction. Eye doctors measure the plane of your eye in meridians, and toric contact lenses have different strengths in different meridians of the lens to correct the variations in the shape of your eye. Spherical contacts have the same power of strength in each meridian, so your vision is not affected if the lens rotates when you blink. Since toric lenses have different levels of strength, they should only move vertically to ensure that you are getting optimal vision. Often toric lenses are weighted at the bottom to keep them in place as you blink.
There are a variety of brands and styles you can choose from, so if one type does not fit very well you can try another brand. You may have to try a few different styles before settling on the option that suits your eyesight best.
Certain brands offer toric lenses for daily wear or extended wear. You could also go with a toric lens that will enhance your eye color. If Soft toric lenses do not work with your astigmatism, gas permeable lenses may be best for your vision.
Gas permeable (GP) lenses work well for those with a mild to moderate amount of astigmatism. This lens type will provide you with sharper vision correction than toric lenses. Most of the time people with astigmatism do not need GP toric lenses, because the regular GP lenses are rigid enough to maintain their shape on the eye.
Even though the contact lenses are rigid, do not mistake them for “hard” contact lenses that are now obsolete. Rigid GP lenses allow more oxygen to pass through the lens than hard lenses, and keep the lenses more securely on the eye when they are worn during sport activities. If you have more moderate or severe astigmatism, then GP toric lenses will be more beneficial to your vision.
A hybrid contact lens combines the features of a soft contact lens and a GP contact lens. The center of a hybrid lens is a rigid GP center that is fully surrounded by a soft contact lens material. The vision provided by the hybrid contact lens does not depend on its position, unlike soft lenses, so lens rotation is not a concern for the contact wearer.
If you have astigmatism and are interested in looking into contact options, be sure to address this topic with your eye doctor at your next routine eye exam.