Astigmatism Contact Lenses
Maybe you’ve heard it before: “Sorry… you have astigmatism…you can’t wear contact lenses”. How disappointing!
Hmmm…maybe it’s time you come to someone who specializes in astigmatism! Do you know that there are over 100 different brands of soft toric lenses that correct astigmatism…even extreme amounts of astigmatism?
Astigmatism is merely a visual condition of the eye that is caused by its shape, just like myopia (nearsight) and hyperopia (farsight). Nearsight is the result of an eye that is too long, while farsight is the result of an eye that is too short. Astigmatism is the result of an eye that has two different powers, which splits the focus point into two different partial focus points. The most common form of astigmatism is corneal astigmatism, in which the front of the eye has two different curvatures, and thus two different powers. These different powers result in magnification differences and cause blurry vision, shadow images, starbursts from lights at night, eye muscle spasms, eyestrain, and headaches.
Approximately 84% of the population has astigmatism…it is by far the most common refractive problem, more than nearsight and farsight put together!
Both eyeglasses and contact lenses correct astigmatism, but, contrary to what most doctors still say, contact lenses do a much better job! Astigmatism eyeglasses cause distortion just like those “Fun House” mirrors that make you look tall and skinny or short and fat…there is more magnification in one direction than the opposite. Most of the distortion occurs away from the lens centers, so large eyeglass frames cause more problems than small frames. In addition, when you move, the side vision appears to “swim”. Contact lenses do not cause any of these problems because the eyes are always looking through the center of the lenses, where there is no distortion! When you move your eyes, the contacts move too.
Most doctors still tell people that they can’t wear contacts if they have astigmatism. The truth is that it is too time consuming for them to fit astigmatism contacts, or they have not kept up with new contact lens technology.
You really do have to try them for yourself. If you already use astigmatism contacts, or you’ve tried them unsuccessfully in the past, call us to set up an evaluation, and we will discuss which lens will work best for YOUR eyes.
Bifocal (Progressive, Multifocal) Contact Lenses
If you already wear contacts, but are having problems with your near vision because you are over 40 years old, then you will be happy to hear about this newest area of contact lens development. Imagine being able to read or work at your computer, without having to strain your eyes or pull out your reading glasses. We now have the contact lenses you’ve been waiting for!
Bifocal contact lenses have had major improvements over the past few years, and there are now dozens of brands available for people with different vision needs.
People often confuse bifocal contacts with “monovision”, where one eye is corrected for far vision, and the other eye is corrected for near vision. Bifocal contacts are designed with a far and near correction in each lens! There are many different designs, but they fall into 3 main categories:
- Line bifocals: weighted on the bottom, so that it stays in the proper position. When you look straight ahead, you are looking above the line through the far prescription, and when you look down to read, you are looking below the line, through the near prescription.
- Concentric bifocals: the center has the far prescription, and the outer portion has the near prescription
- Progressive concentric bifocals: the prescription gradually changes from the center of the lens toward the outer portion. This design usually works better for computer users.
No matter how strong or weak your prescription is (and now, even if you have astigmatism too!), there is a bifocal lens that will very likely work for you. We are quite familiar with all of the brands, and Dr. Jeruss will be happy to discuss all of your options with you.
Rigid Gas Permeable Contact Lenses (RGP’s)
“Hard lenses? No way! I tried them a long time ago, and they were uncomfortable!”
“Hard lenses? Uh uhhh…my friend tried ‘em and said they hurt!”
Wow, how things have changed! The first contact lenses were made from PMMA (polymethylmethacrylate), and were uncomfortable because they transmitted zero oxygen and were fitted by doctors who had zero experience. The first “gas perms” were not much better, so when soft lenses were invented, hard and “gas perm” lens fitting became even less desirable. With the advent of disposable lenses, “gas perms” have almost gone the way of the dinosaur in America.
Not so fast!!! There have been amazing breakthroughs in gas permeable lens materials and designs in the past 5 years. The materials have become much more comfortable and healthy because of the increased oxygen permeability and surface wettability. And now we have computer generated lens designs that that fit the cornea much more precisely.
Why would a person do better with RGP’s than with soft? There are a large number of advantages:
- Astigmatism is more easily and thoroughly corrected.
- Visual acuity is noticeably sharper and more stable.
- Your vision will not continue to worsen as it “normally” does.
- The lenses are custom designed for your eye.
- There is less cleaning needed.
- They are less expensive in the long run.
- They are better for your eyes’ health than soft lenses.
- They allow much more oxygen to your eyes than soft lenses.
- They are better for dry eye problems than soft lenses.
- They are easier to handle than soft lenses.
- There are more progressive and bifocal semi-rigid designs than with soft, and they all provide much better vision than soft bifocal lenses.
Sports Contact Lenses
Many people wear contact lenses for sports only. They appreciate the improved peripheral vision that eyeglasses do not provide. They also enjoy not having to constantly wipe perspiration off their glasses or look through fogged up lenses.
Typically, a large lens is the best for sports, because it is less likely to move around and cause fluctuating vision. It is also less likely to fall out during strenuous activity or windy conditions. There are a number of contact lens brands made with the sports enthusiast specifically in mind.
Contact Lenses for Color Blindness
What most people refer to as “color blindness” is really a result of the eye’s retinal “cone” receptors being faulty. There is still color perception…it’s just not as detailed or accurate.
For real! We can design a special contact lens that can improve color vision!
It is amazing to watch a person with a color vision deficiency put on one of these lenses, look around the room, and point out all of the different colors that he had previously missed.
We can tint any lens, so that people can enjoy clear vision with their prescription, as well as their new color vision ability.
How it works: this special tint is a magenta filter, worn on one eye only, and it slows down that eye’s electronic signal to the brain. When the brain processes both eyes together, it distinguishes the colors more accurately.
Imagine how many wives and girlfriends will appreciate not having to dress their husbands and boyfriends anymore!
Call us for an evaluation and trial fitting.
Keratoconus Contact Lenses
Keratoconus is a progressive condition that causes the cornea to become thinner and eventually bulge forward in a cone-like shape. The result is increasingly distorted vision that cannot be corrected with eyeglasses or soft contact lenses. In many cases, the progression of this condition ultimately results in corneal scarring, and eventually a corneal transplant is the only treatment.
There are a variety of RGP (rigid gas permeable) lens designs that fit different types of keratoconus, and all of them do an excellent job of providing clear vision by negating or compensating for the distortion of the cornea. Sometimes, we will fit a combination of semi-rigid and soft contact lenses, a method called “piggy-back lenses”.
- Piggyback lens: A soft lens is placed on the eye first, and then an RGP lens is worn on top of that. Much better comfort and much fewer problems with lenses slipping off or popping out.
- Scleral lens: A very large RGP lens that vaults over the weakened corneal area without touching it. Because there is no pressure on the cone, it can be a better long term option.
- Hybrid lens: One of the newest keratoconus lens is the SynergEyes™ KC hybrid lens (http://www.quarterlambda.com/), which combines a hard center with a soft outer skirt, providing the clear vision of a hard lens with the comfort of a soft lens. Dr. Jeruss is one of the very first doctors in the country to fit this lens.
Kids and Contact Lenses
When is the proper age for kids to begin wearing contact lenses? The answer is that even infants can and do wear contact lenses. Practically speaking, most kids are mature enough by age 8 to care for contacts, because they realize that it is a privilege to have their parents trust them with such an adult responsibility. Even kids who don’t clean their rooms do just fine with contacts. They are usually so appreciative that they start helping more around the house. (Of course, this is the perfect time to take advantage of this new-found sense of responsibility and get those beds made and the trash taken out!)
For many kids, their self-esteem increases when they begin wearing contact lenses. They feel more confidence in being accepted by their peers. Often they become less shy and begin developing better social skills.
Aside from the important emotional reasons for wearing contact lenses, there are therapeutic reasons for kids to wear contacts, as well. Numerous studies have shown that wearing semi-rigid oxygen permeable lenses slows down the progression of nearsightedness in children. This will benefit them later on in life.
“I Don’t Think I Can Wear Contacts!”
“I’m afraid to touch my eyes’”
Nobody is born knowing how to put on a contact lens, so the initial fear of putting on a contact lens is very easily overcome with a session of insertion and removal training. We are very patient and understanding with first time contact lens wearers, and we will make sure that your experience is smooth and relaxing.
“They told me I couldn’t wear contacts”
If your previous doctors gave up without even trying, then it’s likely that they just didn’t know how to handle your case because they haven’t kept up with all of the contact lenses available, or they just didn’t want to spend the extra time with you when they could spend it with another patient.
“Dr So-and-So tried to fit me, but they didn’t work”
Your previous doctors may have fit contact lenses, but chances are that they were probably not contact lens specialists, who are familiar with the hundreds of materials and designs that can make all the difference between success and failure.
We make trying contact lenses fun and easy, with a money-back guarantee if they don’t work.
Disposable Contact Lenses
It’s difficult to imagine that before 1987 we were wearing soft lenses for an entire year before throwing them away. We doctors had been prescribing soft lenses since 1971, but were recommending yearly replacement mainly because this fit conveniently with our recommendation for a yearly eye exam, and because for quite awhile we really didn’t know about all the harmful effects on corneal health from overwearing soft contact lenses. Oh sure, we’d see how after a year of wearing, that everyone’s soft lenses were covered with protein and lipid and calcium deposits, and that their corneal curvatures had changed, and that their vision had gotten worse, and their prescriptions needed changing. But we just figured that as long as most of our patients didn’t have an eye infection, all these other things were “normal”.
But as new diagnostic instruments came along that expanded our ability to tell what kinds of things were really going on, we realized that yearly lens replacement was almost always inappropriate. In 1987, things changed with the first disposable soft lenses, and we have seen advances every year since. There are hundreds of different disposable lens materials and designs available now, and we doctors have seen better corneal health as a result.
Unfortunately, many people still over wear their lenses, and we still see the same old problems. Too many doctors do not take the time to explain to their patients the recommended maximum life expectancy of the lenses they fit. There is a lot of confusion out there as a result, and many people end up inventing their own replacement schedule, based on such things as “how the lenses feel”, or “when I remember to”.
Most disposable lenses have been made of materials that were meant to be disposed of every 2 weeks. This is a particularly difficult replacement schedule to remember. Daily, weekly, and monthly replacement schedules are usually easier to remember for most people, and so the contact lens manufacturers have recently been making more lenses with materials that are meant to be replaced on these schedules. Dr. Jeruss has been recommending the best monthly disposable lenses for many years.
This brings us to a question that people often ask: “What IS the best contact lens?”
The answer is that we have lenses that are “the best” for dry eyes, lenses that are “the best” for deposit resistance, lenses that are “the best” for oxygen transmission, lenses that are “the best” for easy handling, etc.
We will fit YOU with “the best lens for YOU”!
If your Radial Keratotomy or LASIK didn’t work so well
Don’t worry. We have turned this situation around many times with specially designed contact lenses to enhance the effect of the surgery. They act similarly to the Ortho-K lenses described in the article “Improve Your Vision While You Sleep”. These contacts gently re-shape the corneal curvature to the desired prescription, and stabilize the vision to a more satisfactory level.
Another option is to wear semi-rigid gas permeable lenses underneath or on top of a soft lens. This is called “piggybacking”, and it provides the clear vision of a hard lens with the comfort of a soft lens.
The newest option is using the SynergEyes™ A hybrid lens (http://www.quarterlambda.com/). This combines a hard center with a soft outer skirt, and also provides the clear vision of a hard lens with the comfort of a soft lens. Dr Jeruss is one of the first doctors in the world to start fitting this amazing lens!