What Are Toric Contact Lenses?

Hi my name is Heather…and I have astigmatism.

Ok, it’s not quite that bad. People with astigmatism don’t need a support group or a twelve-step program to recover from their problem. But, they may need special contact lenses–called toric lenses–to help correct their vision.

Having an astigmatism simply means that you have difficulty seeing fine details and that your vision is blurry. You may have another refractive error that causes either distance or near vision problems in addition to your astigmatism.

A toric contact lens is shaped a little differently than a regular contact lens. A standard lens, not used to correct astigmatism, is shaped like the side of a ball–like a sphere. Whereas a toric lens is shaped a little more geometrically and not as perfectly round.

The toric lens needs this shape in order to correct refractive vision errors. People often have astigmatism because of the way the cornea or lens of the eye is curved (depending on the type of astigmatism they have)–so the toric lens’ shape works to counteract that.

The interesting thing about the toric lens is the way they are designed. They have thin and thick zones to help people with astigmatism focus in different ways as it corrects their other refractive errors. Unlike other lenses, the toric contact has a center zone, or a type of middle line, that needs to be in just the right place on your eyeball for them to work correctly.

For this reason, fit is the most important component to wearing this special type of contact. If the fit isn’t just right, then these zones will not be at the correct spot on the wearer’s eyes and, thus, the lenses won’t do their job well!

Toric contacts are also made with both soft and rigid gas permeable (RGP), or hard, lenses. You can also choose disposable or even colored toric contact lenses now. RGP lenses can be better at staying put, but will require a longer adjustment time initially, are more delicate, and can dry out faster. Soft toric contact lenses are generally deemed more comfortable and easier to manage, but may require more effort at getting them to stay in place.

If you also have astigmatism and are interested in wearing contact lenses, talk to your closest America’s Best optometrist about whether or not toric contact lenses are right for you!

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