Should You Wear Contact Lenses for Astigmatism?

wearing contact lenses

Story at-a-glance -

  • Similar to eyeglasses, contact lenses are often prescribed for people with astigmatism, as they are considered the least invasive solution for this condition
  • Contact lenses can lead to corneal ulcers and infections that are so severe that they cause blindness. If you choose to wear contact lenses to correct astigmatism, make sure that you cleanse and disinfect them properly and regularly, using fresh lens solution every time

Similar to eyeglasses, contact lenses are often prescribed for people with astigmatism, as they are considered the least invasive solution for this condition. However, there are several important considerations to remember before resorting to this remedy, as well as some potential risk factors.

Specialized Contact Lenses Commonly Recommended for Astigmatism

Just like prescription eyeglasses, you cannot simply wear just any type of contact lenses if you have a refractive error. There are three types of contacts for astigmatism, namely:

Toric contact lenses – These are soft contact lenses that are usually made of either the typical hydrogel material or a highly breathable silicone hydrogel. Rigid glass permeable (RGP or GP) toric contact lenses exist, too, but these are typically prescribed for severe or unusual astigmatism cases.

Unlike regular soft contacts that correct either farsightedness or nearsightedness, toric lenses have two distinct characteristics that set them apart:

The lenses have varying powers in their different meridians, allowing them to correct the varying levels of myopia or hyperopia in the person’s eye.

They have a design feature that allows the lens to rotate and adjust to the proper orientation on the cornea, allowing the power meridians of the lens to align with the appropriate eye meridians, giving the wearer clear vision.

Getting fitted for toric lenses requires more skill than getting fitted for typical soft lenses, as you will need to find a brand that gives both comfort and visual acuity. They also typically cost more than regular contact lenses, and are more expensive to replace.

Rigid gas permeable (RGP or GP) contact lenses – These lenses, as their name implies, are rigid, allowing them to retain their spherical shape on the eye, as opposed to conforming to the irregular shape of the cornea. They work because their uniform front surface acts as the primary refracting surface of the eye, therefore correcting astigmatism without the control rotation mechanism of toric lenses.

GP lenses give the wearer sharper vision than toric lenses, but they can be more difficult to adapt to. They also need more expertise than both soft lenses and toric lenses, as they’re custom-made to parameters that the eye doctor has specified.

Hybrid contact lenses – The central zone of these contacts are made of a rigid gas permeable lens material, then surrounded by a fitting zone made of silicone hydrogel or hydrogel – hence the term “hybrid.” They are said to provide the top qualities of the two previous types: the comfort of toric lenses and the sharp vision of GP lenses. These lenses are also less likely to dislodge from the eyes during sports and other physical activities, due to their unique design.

You do not need to replace GP lenses are frequently as you do with soft contact lenses, but take note that these are custom-made as well, and can be pricier than toric lenses.

In addition to these three, there are now various specialty contacts for astigmatism available. They can be replaced biweekly, monthly or even daily. You can even get colored contacts for astigmatism, allowing you to change your eye color.1

Beware: Wearing Contact Lenses Can Be Harmful

The problem with relying on contact lenses for astigmatism or any refractive error is that they can put you at risk of infection. Every year, as close as 1 million visits are made by patients to treat eye infections brought about by improper use of contact lenses.2 Typical errors include improper cleaning or wearing them overnight. Contact lenses can lead to corneal ulcers and infections that are so severe that they cause blindness.

If you choose to wear contact lenses to correct astigmatism, make sure that you cleanse and disinfect them properly and regularly, using fresh lens solution every time. Never reuse your lens solution, and do not use non-sterile water for cleaning your contacts.3 If you’re going for a swimming or sleeping, remove your contact lens first. In addition, replace the storage case every three months.

MORE ABOUT ASTIGMATISM

Astigmatism: Introduction

What Is Astigmatism?

Astigmatism Symptoms

Astigmatism Causes

Astigmatism Test

Types of Astigmatism

Astigmatism Treatment

Contact Lenses For Astigmatism

Astigmatism Prevention

Astigmatism FAQ



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