Contact Lenses for Astigmatism: Are They Right for You?

Here is what soft toric contact lenses look like up close.

If you have astigmatism and are looking to be fit with contacts, chances are your eye doctor will prescribe you toric contact lenses.

Astigmatism is a common vision problem that causes blur, shadowing, or doubling of images when glasses or contact lenses aren’t worn. It falls into a similar category as nearsightedness and farsightedness but causes blurry vision both up close and far away.

In the video below, Dr. Jackie Garlich talks about the different types of astigmatism contacts and the benefits of each.

If you don’t like the video or want more information, continue reading.

What are toric contacts lenses?

Toric contact lenses are specially designed lenses that include more than one power in a single contact. In addition, they’re built with a stabilization mechanism that keeps the lens from rotating while you wear it.

Below is an overview of the three main types of contact lenses for astigmatism

Soft contact lenses for astigmatism are the most common option prescribed by eye care professionals.

1. Soft toric contact lenses

Soft toric contact lenses are the most frequently prescribed because of their good initial comfort, widespread availability, and convenience. These lenses are available in daily, biweekly, and monthly disposable materials.

When it comes to correcting astigmatism with soft contact lenses, there is more to it than just writing down a prescription. While your eye doctor can use your glasses prescription as a starting point, they will have to closely examine the contact lens on your eye to find small, laser-made markings that tell them if the lens is properly aligned.

Related: “Daily vs Monthly Contact Lenses: Weighing the Pros and Cons”

Also, keep in mind, it may take time for these lenses to settle into place for clear, comfortable vision.

Here is an example of toric alignment markers on soft contact lenses for astigmatism

Fortunately, it’s good to know that the shape of these lenses is specially designed to rotate into place on their own. However, these lenses have to be sitting just right for you to have good vision. So don’t be discouraged if your first pair seems a little off. Your eye doctor may just need to adjust the fit.

RGP toric contact lenses are most commonly used for people who have high amounts of astigmatism

Scleral contact lenses for astigmatism are commonly used for people who have high amounts of astigmatism due to corneal disease

2. Hard toric contact lenses

Hard and hybrid toric contact lenses are a great alternative to soft toric contact lenses in certain situations. For example, if you have high amounts of astigmatism, the subtle movements you have with a soft contact lens can cause blurry, fluctuating vision.

Fortunately, both standard rigid gas permeable (RGP) and scleral lenses can correct for astigmatism. Therefore, if you have poor vision with soft contact lenses, make sure to ask your eye doctor about hard lenses.

Related: “Contact Lenses for Keratoconus: What Are Your Options?”

Hybrid toric contact lens are often used for people who have high amounts of astigmatism

3. Hybrid toric contact lenses

Lastly, hybrid toric lenses have a hard center with a soft surrounding. Because of their great initial comfort, some patients prefer these lenses over RGPs

Overall, RGP and hybrid lenses correct astigmatism in similar ways. Although these lenses are more complex and often take longer for your eye doctor to fit, they’re both great options if you are unhappy with soft toric contact lenses.

Curious if you’re a candidate for toric contact lenses? What are you waiting for? Make sure to schedule an appointment with your local eye care professional today!

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Hi, my name is Jaclyn Garlich and I’m an optometrist practicing in Milwaukee, WI. I grew up in St. Louis, MO and I went to optometry school at the New England College of Optometry in Boston, MA. After optometry school, I did a residency in primary care and ocular diseases at the St. Louis VAMC. One thing I love about optometry is making my patients see better but, in particular, those patients with severe corneal dystrophies. I fit a lot of specialty contact lenses and I find it very rewarding to see a patient go from 20/200 vision to 20/20 vision. When I’m not practicing optometry I write an optometry newsletter called 20/20 Glance. It’s a once a week email delivered every Monday morning with a rundown of what’s new in optometry for the past week. It’s an easy way for the busy clinician to stay up-to-date.