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Can I Wear Contacts If I Have Astigmatism?

brunette girl smiling 640Many people choose to wear contact lenses to correct their vision due to the freedom and convenience contacts can provide. At Family Eye Care in Old Bridge we offer specialized contact lenses that provide clear and comfortable vision, even if you have moderate or severe astigmatism. 

What is Astigmatism?

Astigmatism is a refractive condition, meaning, how light is bent and reaches the back of your eye.  The cornea, the front part of your eye, bends light onto the retina, at the back of the eye.  When the cornea is shaped like a sphere (think of a ball), then all the rays of light can focus onto the retina equally.  When the cornea is not shaped like that, we need a special type of lens so that is CAN focus correctly onto the back of the eye. 

Symptoms of astigmatism include blurred vision, headaches, eye strain, and difficulties with reading or using digital devices. 

Astigmatism may be congenital, meaning that you are born with it, or you can develop it later in life. People with astigmatism usually also have myopia (nearsightedness) or hyperopia (farsightedness), two of the most common refractive conditions.   

Which Contact Lenses Can You Wear With Astigmatism? 

Although regular soft contact lenses may not be suitable for patients with astigmatism, there are two other types of contact lenses specifically designed for those with unusually shaped corneas.

Toric Contact Lenses

Toric Soft lenses are prescribed for people with mild astigmatism. It may be obvious, but the power in the contact lens, must coincide with the power you need.  Patients with higher levels of astigmatism, however, may require a higher level of expertise. 

Toric lenses are designed to provide clear vision and a comfortable fit. There are some limitations with toric lenses. First, the range of corrective powers is limited to what the manufacturers produce.  Second, the lenses rotate to align to the shape of your cornea.  At times that can leading to occasional unstable or varying clarity of vision. Third, all soft lenses are made wit ha high amount of water.  That's what makes them comfortable when we first put them in, but as the day goes on, they tend to lose water.  The water evaporates out of the lenses because when we spend time on computer and other digital devices, we tend to blink less and the lenses dry out. Also, we work in heated or air conditioned environments that tend to de-hydrate, meaning, they pull moisture out of the air and out of the contact lenses.  That is why people sometimes complain about soft lenses as the day progresses

Toric lenses are available in either soft disposable or Gas Permeable (GP) lens materials. 

Gas Permeable Contact Lenses

Gas Permeable (GP) lenses are made of a different material that does not have water in it, so they don't dry out like soft toric lenses do.  Another advantage is that vision is more distinct and 'crisper'.  The lenses last longer.  Gas Permeable lenses tend to take a little longer to adjust to initially, but once someone becomes accustomed to them, they really love those lenses.

Scleral Contact Lenses

Unlike standard lenses, scleral lenses vault over the cornea and sit on the sclera (the white of the eye). These lenses do not have the issues faced by toric lenses.  They are individually custom designed for each patient and do not sit on the cornea.  They are great for people who have astigmatism and other corneal irregularities. Scleral lenses vault over the cornea and create a liquid reservoir between your cornea and the lens.  Your eye stays moist, the cornea is protected, and they give better comfort.  The best part is that people can see clearer.  

How We Can Help 

At Family Eye Care, we can prescribe standard and customized soft toric lenses and we also provide scleral contact lenses that are tailor-made for patients with astigmatism or other corneal irregularities.  We use a special instrument, called a topographer, that precisely maps out the surface of the cornea, so we can then design a lens that has the best possibility of obtaining crisp clear vision.

To learn more information or to schedule your consultation, call us today. 

Family Eye Care serves patients from Old Bridge, East Brunswick, Woodbridge, Edison, and throughout New Jersey. 

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