The Ultimate Guide to Astigmatism and Contact Lenses

March 22, 2024

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Have you ever wondered if perfect vision is just a dream when you have astigmatism? It’s a question that many of my patients ponder before stepping into my practice, at Ezekiel Eyes. Fortunately, we can usually turn that dream of better vision into a reality, thanks to advanced contact lens options.

Astigmatism is a condition where an irregularly shaped cornea, lens or eye shape blurs vision at any distance, and is often caused by genetics, surgery or injury. It can lead to blurred vision, headaches and eye strain, impacting daily activities significantly.

It is a common condition, accounting for approximately 13% of refractive vision errors.

One of the most widespread myths we at Ezekiel Eyes encounter is the belief that if you have astigmatism, contact lenses are not an option for you. This simply isn’t true. With advancements in eye care technology, astigmatism correcting contact lenses are designed to provide clear, comfortable vision, debunking the old notion that glasses are the only viable solution.

As the owner and principal optometrist of Ezekiel Eyes, I’ve dedicated my career to not only providing top-notch eye care but also educating my patients on how they can achieve the best vision and comfort through contact lenses. Together with my fellow optometrist, Rhiannon Richer, we are here to provide eye care solutions that restore your quality of life.

Let me share a story about a patient. A middle aged woman who came to see us had been told for years that her astigmatism was too severe for contact lenses. She struggled with glasses but wasn’t satisfied and was looking for other solutions. We discussed her needs and lifestyle, and I fitted her with specialized astigmatism contact lenses. The transformation was remarkable. Her vision improved significantly, and she could finally enjoy activities that glasses had made cumbersome. She was surprised at how easy the transformation was.

For those of you keen to dive deeper into understanding astigmatism correcting contact lenses and how they can change your life, I encourage you to continue reading. And if you’d like a personal assessment of how contact lenses can be the solution to your astigmatism, book a consultation with either myself or Rhiannon today.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • Toric contact lenses are specially designed to correct astigmatism, offering precise focusing, stability, and a customized fit for clear vision at all distances.
  • Toric contacts are available in various types, including soft, rigid gas permeable (RGP), hybrid, daily disposables, and extended wear, to suit different lifestyles, vision goals, and degrees of astigmatism.

Benefits of Toric Contact Lenses

Astigmatism can be sorted into three types based on how the irregularity in the eye’s cornea is aligned. In “with-the-rule” astigmatism, imagine holding a rugby football in front of you, with the “sharp” ends facing left and right. With “against-the-rule” astigmatism, imagine holding the same rugby ball in front of you with the “sharp” ends pointing up and down. “Oblique” astigmatism means the rugby ball sharp ends are tilted, neither purely vertical nor horizontal.

Toric contact lenses are a game-changer because they adjust for these non-spherical corneal abnormalities. Here’s what sets toric lenses apart from regular contact lenses:

  • Unique Design: Toric lenses have a geometric shape that corrects refractive errors caused by astigmatism. This design ensures light is precisely focused on the retina, allowing for clear vision at all distances.
  • Stability: They are weighted at the bottom, ensuring they remain in the correct position on your eye, which is crucial for consistent vision clarity.
  • Customized Fit: Toric lenses require meticulous fitting to match the specific curvature of each eye, offering a personalized solution that standardized lenses cannot provide.

At Ezekiel Eyes, we prioritise a personalised approach in selecting and fitting toric contact lenses, ensuring each patient receives optimal vision correction tailored to their unique needs. Toric contact lenses are available in a few different types, which we can choose from depending on your lifestyle, vision goals and degree of astigmatism.

Soft Toric Lenses: These are the most common type of toric lenses and are made from a soft, flexible material that conforms to the surface of the eye. They are designed to correct astigmatism in addition to near-sightedness or farsightedness.

Daily Disposables: Daily disposables are available for astigmatism correction for patients seeking the comfort and convenience of a fresh pair of lenses every day. These contact lenses are convenient and minimise any patient complications.

Rigid Gas Permeable (RGP) Lenses: RGP toric lenses are made from a firm, durable material that maintains its shape on the eye, providing clear, crisp vision. They are especially beneficial for correcting higher degrees of astigmatism and can offer sharper vision than soft torics for some patients.

Hybrid Contact Lenses: Hybrid toric lenses feature a central zone made from RGP material for clear vision and a peripheral zone made from soft lens material for comfort. They aim to provide the clarity of RGP lenses with the comfort of soft lenses, making them a suitable option for those with a higher degree of irregular astigmatism.

If you’d like to learn more about toric lenses, watch the following video by Dr Joe Allen on the Doctor Eye Health channel.

 

 

 

Astigmatism Plus Presbyopia: A Dual Challenge

In conversations about vision correction, astigmatism often takes the spotlight due to its prevalence and impact on vision clarity. However, for those of us managing the complexities of both astigmatism and presbyopia, the challenge intensifies.

Presbyopia is a common age-related condition where the eye’s internal crystalline lens loses its ability to focus on close objects, resulting in difficulty with near vision tasks such as reading, using a smartphone and personal computer. When combined with astigmatism, a nuanced approach to vision correction is required.

At Ezekiel Eyes, we delve deep into the individual needs of our patients, understanding that vision correction is not a one-size-fits-all scenario.

 

 

Astigmatism and contact lenses

The Science of Comfort: Material and Design Innovations

The advancements in contact lens technology have significantly improved vision correction, comfort and safety, primarily through:

  • Precision Stability Designs: Incorporation of new stabilization methods, such as weighted edges or ballasting, to ensure toric lenses maintain their orientation for consistent vision correction.
  • Breathable Materials: Use of silicone hydrogel materials that allow more oxygen to reach the eye, enhancing comfort and reducing the risk of hypoxia-related complications.
  • Customizable Fitting Options: · Advanced manufacturing techniques enabling more precise customisation of lens parameters to fit individual corneal shapes and sizes, improving comfort and effectiveness.
  • Enhanced Moisture Retention: · Introduction of lens materials and coatings designed to retain moisture, reducing dryness and improving all day wearability.
  • UV Protection: Integration of UV-blocking materials into toric lenses to protect the eyes from harmful ultraviolet rays, contributing to overall eye health.

Ezekiel Eyes is well known for staying at the forefront of contact lens innovations. We always prioritize patient needs and take extra effort to find the best contact lens solution for our patients.

What is astigmatism?

 

The Fitting Process for Astigmatism Contact Lens

The fitting process for astigmatism contact lenses is a cornerstone of achieving not just optimal vision correction, but also unparalleled comfort. The uniqueness of each individual’s eyes, particularly when it comes to astigmatism, demands a tailored approach.

  • Comprehensive Eye Examination: We start by conducting a detailed assessment of the eye’s health, vision needs, and specific measurements of astigmatism.
  • Corneal Topography: We utilize advanced imaging to map the cornea’s surface curvature, aiding in the precise fitting of toric lenses.
  • Lens Selection: We choose appropriate toric lens based on the degree of astigmatism, eye shape, and lifestyle needs.
  • Trial Fitting: We prescribe trial lenses to evaluate fit, comfort, and visual acuity, making adjustments as necessary to ensure optimal performance.
  • Handling: We teach each patient how to properly insert, remove and maintain the cleanliness of your new contact lenses.
  • Follow-Up Visits: We schedule subsequent appointments to monitor the eye’s adaptation to the lenses, making further adjustments if needed for the perfect fit and or visual requirements.

Our thorough and patient-centered approach to astigmatism contact lens fittings ensures each patient achieves the best possible vision correction and comfort, with comprehensive support and training throughout their lens-wearing journey.

Common Challenges with Astigmatism Contact Lenses

Navigating the path to comfortable and effective use of astigmatism correcting contact lenses can present a few hurdles, but with the right guidance, these can be easily overcome.

For those new to toric lenses, the adaptation period involves getting used to how these lenses feel and function differently from standard contact lenses. Toric lenses are designed to stay in a specific orientation to correct astigmatism, which can initially feel unfamiliar. However, with the correct fit and a little settling time, most wearers find they adjust quickly and enjoy the clear vision these lenses offer.

For first-time wearers, it’s essential to ensure your lenses are fitting well and to report any issues of discomfort or poor vision to your optometrist promptly—often, these can be easily fixed with a slight adjustment.

Generally, inserting a toric contact lens follows the same procedure as with standard contacts, though paying attention to the orientation is advantageous. Besides utilising the markings for guidance, positioning the lens so that its heavier (or thicker) portion is at the bottom is also helpful.

Good lens care habits are also critical; this means cleaning and storing your lenses as recommended and adhering to the wearing schedule advised by your eye care professional. It is essential for patients to allow some time for their new contact lenses to settle and this will allow their vision and comfort to improve. Remember, adapting to any new type of contact lens takes a bit of patience, but the benefits to your vision and lifestyle are well worth it.

At Ezekiel Eyes, we have plenty of experience in supporting our patients through these initial challenges. Together we can ensure a successful and comfortable transition to using astigmatism correcting contact lenses, enhancing patients’ vision and quality of life.

Conclusion

In this article I hope I’ve provided some helpful insight to intricate world of astigmatism and contact lenses. From understanding the nuances of toric lenses, including their design and the critical role of a precise fit, to overcoming common challenges such as lens displacement and discomfort, the journey to clear vision with astigmatism is both complex and rewarding. Innovative advances in contact lens materials and the emphasis on proper eye care and protection can enhance quality of life for individuals with astigmatic vision impairments.

Remember, the path to optimal eyesight starts with informed choices and expert guidance. At Ezekiel Eyes we look forward to welcoming you and helping you achieve the best possible outcome for your eyes.

To schedule a consultation simply give us a call at (08) 9386 3620. Or if you prefer the convenience of online booking, click the “Book an Appointment” button on our website.

optometrist-damon-ezekiel

In addition to owning and managing Ezekiel Eyes, Damon is a contact lens consultant to various research organisations. He regularly lectures and conducts workshops in contact lens practice throughout Australia, Asia and the United States. Damon graduated from the University of NSW with a Bachelor of Optometry in 1989. He is now married with two children and enjoys running, hockey, swimming, piano, travelling and trekking.

Damon’s professional associations include:
President of the International Society of Contact Lens Specialists
Practising Fellow of the Scleral Lens Education Society
Fellow of the Cornea & Contact Lens Society of Australia
Fellow of the American Academy of Optometry
Member of Optometry Australia
Member of the Orthokeratology Society of Australia
Member of Alcon Australia advisory panel