Q&A on Contact Lenses for
Q: I have worn toric contact lenses for astigmatism for several years, but I've always had the problem of the contacts rotating out of focus. Is there anything new that could correct this problem? Also, is this uncommon, as it doesn't seem to be a problem for other contact wearers I've talked to? N.P., North Dakota
A: There are many, many brands of soft toric lenses, each with its own material, design and features. It is highly probable you can get toric soft lenses that do not rotate and go out of focus. Perhaps you have to find a contact lens specialist. You might contact CooperVision, Vistakon or CIBA Vision on their websites to ask for an eye doctor who specializes in toric lenses. Dr. Dubow
Q: My father has a stigmatism and wears bifocals. Is there any chance he could ever wear contacts? B.J.E., Florida
A: Absolutely. We have been able to correct astigmatism (it is one word, meaning "lack of point focus") for many years with both rigid gas permeable and soft toric lenses. And the need for bifocals because of presbyopia is no longer a hindrance either, as there are both rigid and soft bifocal contact lenses for this as well. In fact, there are even disposable contact lenses that correct presbyopia!
A very common technique is to prescribe the lenses so one eye takes the lead at distance and the other eye at near. This is called monovision, and it is very successful with most patients. A number of U.S. presidents have worn monovision.
Tell your dad to see his eye care practitioner for more information. Dr. Dubow
Q: I used to wear contacts about eight years ago and had to wear the ones to correct astigmatism. Now I want to wear them again, but the ones I need are much more expensive. Why can't I just wear plain old contacts? Wearing my glasses isn't correcting my astigmatism anyway, so what's the big deal? S.D.B., Texas
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A: If you have astigmatism and wear "plain old contacts," you'll probably see really blurry. Glasses don't "correct" astigmatism, they compensate for it. And so do toric contact lenses. It's all a matter of clarity. Blur won't harm your eyes, but don't you want to see well? Your vision is worth the extra expense! Dr. Dubow
Q: I have had a pterygium removed twice from one eye, and I have another on the other eye. The scar tissue has made my astigmatism worse. What are the possibilities of wearing contacts, and what kind would be the best? D.H., Texas
A: Contact lenses are a possibility, but it depends on the amount and characteristics of your astigmatism. Dr. Slonim
Q: Are there contact lenses for astigmatism that I can sleep in? My wife has the convenience of sleeping in contacts, but she does not have astigmatism like I do. Rob, North Carolina
A: Heaven forbid that your wife should see more than you do upon awakening! In fact, there are several options for those with astigmatism who want to sleep in contact lenses. One option is toric soft contact lenses for astigmatism, which come in either disposable or non-disposable materials and designs. A second option, rigid gas permeable (RGP) lenses, offer more oxygen than soft lenses and can compensate for most astigmatisms, including very large amounts.
The FDA has approved a number of contact lenses for up to six days of continuous wear and one brand of toric extended wear contact lenses for up to 30 days of continuous wear. I recommend rinsing your eyes with saline before going to sleep and upon waking, to get rid of the debris and bacteria that can accumulate on and under your lenses. This helps prevent problems.
It is very important to work with a skilled eye care practitioner when wearing extended wear contact lenses there is more risk when you sleep in lenses. However, done properly, it is great to be able to wake up and see. Just remember... you will be seeing your wife very clearly first thing in the morning... are you sure you really want to? Just kidding, honey... ouch!... ouch! Dr. Dubow
Have a question about contact lenses for astigmatism? You may send your question to us, by filling out the form below. The most interesting and educational questions will be answered by an eye doctor for publication on this website. Thank you!
[Page updated May 2011]