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Can You Wear Normal Contact Lenses for Astigmatism?

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A contact lens on someone's index finger, while they put more contact lens solution onto the lens, with contact lens case in the background

Do you have trouble seeing at multiple distances? If so, you may have an eye condition called astigmatism.

If your optometrist has told you you have astigmatism, you have nothing to worry about. Astigmatism is a common eye condition that can typically be treated with contact lenses or eyeglasses, depending on your preference. 

But how do you know which contact lenses are best? While having astigmatism may complicate your prescription a little bit, your optometrist can help you find corrective eyewear suited to your individual vision needs and lifestyle. 

At Perry & Morgan EyeCare, we can help you find the right corrective lenses to treat your astigmatism. Book an appointment today to learn more about how our contact lens exams can help you get a custom-fit solution. 

What is Astigmatism?

Astigmatism is a type of refractive error that causes blurred vision due to an imperfection in the curvature of the eye.

Astigmatism occurs when there is a mismatch between the curve in your cornea or the lens inside your eye. In an eye that is unaffected by astigmatism, these curves are evenly rounded. In an eye with astigmatism, the curve is uneven, causing blurred vision at all distances. 

Types of Astigmatism

There are two types of astigmatism that can affect your vision:

  • Regular or corneal astigmatism is the most common type of astigmatism. This type of astigmatism occurs when the cornea is shaped like an oval instead of a sphere.
  • Irregular astigmatism is a less common type of astigmatism that occurs when the cornea is curved unevenly in several directions.

What are the Symptoms of Astigmatism?

If you have astigmatism you may notice the following signs and symptoms: 

  • Blurred or distorted vision at all distances
  • Eyestrain or discomfort
  • Headaches
  • Difficulty with night vision / glare
  • Squinting

If you have any of the above symptoms, see your eye doctor for an eye exam. If you have mild astigmatism you may not notice any symptoms at all, making regular eye exams that much more important. 

Only your optometrist can determine whether you have astigmatism, and if you do, they can help you get the treatment you need. 

A graphic comparing a healthy eye's cornea and iris, compared to what an astigmatic eye looks like

How is Astigmatism Diagnosed?

Eye doctors can check for astigmatism as part of a comprehensive eye exam. During your eye exam, your optometrist can assess your vision and determine if you’re suffering from a refractive error, and to what degree.

From there, your optometrist can find a treatment option tailored to you and your individual needs. 

Can Astigmatism Be Corrected?

The most common treatments for astigmatism are eyeglasses or contact lenses. If you decide that contact lenses are the treatment you prefer, your eye doctor will perform a contact lens exam and fitting to prescribe the right lenses to help you see as clearly as possible. 

In some cases, your optometrist may recommend surgery to treat astigmatism. During surgery, an ophthalmologist can change the shape of your cornea so that it can focus light correctly, helping you to see clearly.

What Type of Contacts are Best for Astigmatism?

Astigmatism requires specialty contact lenses. Your treatment will depend on the type of astigmatism you have, your lifestyle, and your preferences. 

Soft Toric Contact Lenses

For most patients with regular or corneal astigmatism, toric contact lenses are often the best choice.

Toric contact lenses are specifically shaped to provide different focusing powers to correct astigmatism. Toric lenses are available as soft or hard lenses, and come in a variety of wear options, depending on your needs and personal preferences. 

Rigid Gas-Permeable (RGP) Toric Contact Lenses

For patients with irregular astigmatism, RGP contacts are the best option.

RGP lenses are better able to correct irregular astigmatism because they allow for more breathability and retain their shape on your eye. RGP contacts stay put better than other options, but they can still dislodge during physical activity.

Hybrid Toric Contact Lenses

Hybrid contact lenses have softer edges but a rigid gas-permeable center. These lenses offer more comfort than RGP lenses, but still provide the same clear vision. If you live an active lifestyle, hybrid lenses are a great option because they’re less likely to fall out during physical activity.

Scleral Contact Lenses

Some patients do better with large rigid contact lenses that vault over the irregular corneal surface. These types of lenses rest on the sclera or “white” of the eye with no contact on the cornea. These lenses have a fluid reservoir that can provide relief for patients who have dry eye disease in addition to irregular astigmatism.

The Importance of Proper Exams

If your astigmatism requires treatment with contact lenses, a contact lens exam and fitting is crucial. 

Because toric contact lenses must be placed on your eye in a specific way, achieving an exact fit is extremely important. Without a proper contact lens exam and fitting, your contact lenses won’t fit properly and will most likely do little to actually improve your vision. 

During every exam, your optometrist will get to know you, your vision needs, and your lifestyle to find the most suitable lenses to correct your vision. 

Your Trusted Eye Clinic in Perry & Morgan

If you need contact lenses to help correct astigmatism, or any other vision issue, our team at Perry & Morgan EyeCare can help.

We offer in-depth contact lens exams and fittings so we can find the right type of contact lenses to correct your vision. To learn more, contact us or make an appointment today. We can’t wait to see you! 

Written by Dr. Paul Reed

Dr. Paul Reed is a Utah native. However, he spent his teenage years in a small Kansas farming town. In his youth, Dr. Reed developed his desire to become an optometrist when, after getting his first pair of glasses, he could see the leaves on the trees. After receiving his undergraduate degree from BYU, Dr. Reed attended the University of Houston where he completed his Doctor of Optometry in 1998 and received National Eye Institute Research awards, clinical awards, and academic scholarships. Following his graduation, Dr. Reed went through the rigorous process of becoming a Fellow of the American Academy of Optometry. He is a member of the American Optometric Association and the American Academy of Optometry. When he is not helping patients, Dr. Reed enjoys spending time with his wife and three children, mountain biking, hiking, camping, motorcycling, working on old cars, and building things.

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