People with astigmatism need to wear contact lenses that are especially for their condition. If you have astigmatism, you’ll want to learn these details about the three types of contacts.
What is Astigmatism?
In people without astigmatism, the cornea of the eye is curved like a dome. This shape allows it to focus light on the retina so that you see crisply and clearly.
But with astigmatism, the cornea is an irregular shape. Rather than being rounded, the surface of the cornea is shaped more like an egg or football, so it can’t focus light evenly on the retina. The result is vision that is blurry or distorted.
Correcting Astigmatism with Contacts
The good thing about astigmatism is that it can be corrected with the right prescription eyewear. Eyeglasses are one popular option, but if you’re someone who prefers contacts, then your eye doctor will prescribe one of three types of contact lenses for astigmatism: Gas permeable, toric, and hybrid.
Here we’ll look at the benefits of each.
Toric Contact Lenses
Toric contacts can be a good choice because these lenses are designed with a special shape that focuses the light using different refractive (or focusing) powers on the vertical and horizontal planes.
Regular contacts have a spherical surface, like a slice of a beach ball. Toric lenses, on the other hand, are shaped like a slice of the side of a donut. The name comes from the word “torus,” which is a geometric shape that looks like a donut.
What to consider:
Fit is extremely critical for toric lenses. Because they have a specific orientation (horizontal and vertical), they must be placed in your eye in a certain way. Toric lenses have a middle axis, much like the equator, so that your line of vision stays clear. If you have ill-fitting lenses, you won’t achieve the visual clarity you need.
You can get toric lenses in a daily version or other disposable options, and your doctor will help you choose between soft contact lenses or rigid gas permeable lenses. While soft torics can be more comfortable, some people experience that they don’t stay in place quite as well as RGP lenses. You may need more time to adjust to RGP lenses, and they can be drier and more delicate.
Rigid Gas Permeable (RGP) Contact Lenses
Oftentimes, these lenses can correct astigmatism even without the toric shape. That’s because rigid gas permeable lenses retain their shape when placed on the eye, taking the place of the misshapen cornea to focus light correctly on the retina. This is unlike soft lenses, which conform to the corneal surface.
If you have a higher amount of astigmatism, your eye doctor may recommend RGP lenses with a toric design, but many people with astigmatism report much sharper vision with standard RGP lenses.
What to consider:
Because these contacts are rigid and are also smaller in diameter than soft contact lenses, they can take some time getting used to. Some people feel they can never get accustomed to the sensation of a rigid contact on their eye.
Like torics, the fitting process for RGP must be precise. These lenses can be more expensive than soft contact lenses, and for some users, they can pop out on occasion (such as when participating in sports).
Hybrid Contact Lenses
Hybrid contacts are another option that combines the best of both torics and RGP lenses, starting with their construction. At the center is a rigid gas permeable material, and that’s surrounded by a “skirt” composed of either silicone hydrogel material or soft hydrogel.
What to consider:
They offer sharp visual acuity, like RGP contacts, but comfort that is comparable to soft toric lenses. They also have thinner edges than RGP lenses, so they may be less likely to pop out during certain activities.
The fit of these lenses must also be spot on, and just like RGP lenses, they can be more expensive.
Finding the right contact lenses is key to eye health, but how can you know which ones are right for you? Schedule and eye exam. Our eye care professionals are skilled at educating you about the different types of contacts, and ensuring you achieve the perfect fit for your contact lenses.