If patients notice a decrease in night vision or have frequent headaches, increased eye fatigue, blurred/distorted vision, the diagnosis could be astigmatism.
When diagnosed with astigmatism, patients will occasionally think they have an eye disease, which we reassure them is not the case. Then we explain that it is a very common eye condition, and it means the surface of the cornea is nonspherical, or not completely round. We often communicate it to our patient as: “Your eye is shaped like a football, not a soccer ball.”
Affected by astigmatism
It is important our patients understand how their vision is affected by astigmatism. When a patient has astigmatism, his vision may seem blurred, and objects may seem somewhat misshapen or distorted. It is not uncommon for a patient with an astigmatism to notice frequent headaches, and a usual complaint is night vision seems more compromised than during the day.
We make it clear to patients diagnosed with myopia or hyperopia it is not unusual to have accompanying astigmatism. Continuing the explanation, it is important to help patients understand that astigmatism does not make contact lens wear impossible. The amount of astigmatism will help the eyecare professional identify the most appropriate contact lenses for comfort and visual acuity.
Toric contact lenses
Soft toric contact lenses are manufactured with the same material as spherical contact lenses and are available in daily, weekly, biweekly, and monthly disposable options. Though not used as frequently, soft toric contact lenses that are replaced annually are also available. There are many soft toric contact lens choices for the astigmatic patient; several are available in custom designs, enabling us to encourage a patient with a more complex refractive need to wear contact lenses.
Another option to fit astigmatic patients is a gas permeable (GP) or rigid contact lens, which is beyond the scope of this article.
The all-important first question our patient almost always asks is, “What is the additional cost of toric contact lenses?”
When we speak to our patients about cost, it is important they realize the value of the contact lenses we recommend. The significance of the detailed fitting, the multiple fitting steps needed to ensure the most comfortable fit, and physical difference of the toric contact lenses to provide the most optimum vision will help the patient understand the fitting fees and the additional expense of toric contact lenses.