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  • Which Is better for astigmatism -- glasses or contacts?


    I have an astigmatism and wear glasses. I want to switch to contacts and was told my vision would not be as good with contacts as with glasses. Why is this the case and what may the difference between the two be?


    Astigmatism is when the front window of the eye, the cornea, is shaped more like a football than a basketball. A small amount of astigmatism is generally found in most people. Moderate amounts cause unclear vision but are easily corrected with spectacle lenses. When the degree of astigmatism is low, simple soft or RGP contacts neutralize it easily. Toric contact lenses are used for more moderate amounts of astigmatism. Traditionally, they had a small weight in the edge to make it align with the 6 to 12 o'clock axis. The blinking action of the eyelids makes the contact lenses rotate on the eye, and the weight makes it return to the proper alignment. Eyeglasses do not have this problem.

    Generally, hard lenses perform better than soft ones, but newer designs have greatly improved the comfort and vision achieved with soft lenses. They are definitely worth a try. Large amounts of astigmatism, especially if progressive, may indicate an underlying condition such as keratoconus, and can be treated by special design GPC contact lenses. For extreme cases, there are hybrid lenses which have a GPC lens in the center for good vision, surrounded by a skirt of soft lens material for comfort and stability.

    When making your appointment to determine your candidacy for contact lenses, make certain that the doctor fits toric lenses and discuss fees.

    Since there are now so many types of lenses it is difficult for them to give you a precise figure, but they can give you a range.

    Finally, your ophthalmologist will generally divide the fee into a fitting fee, to cover his/her professional time and skills as well as any trial lenses. If a satisfactory fit is obtained, the lenses themselves are additional, and you will be given a written prescription and can purchase the lenses from the doctor or vendor of your choice. Toric lenses should be rechecked at least annually by the prescribing physician before renewing the prescription.