Toric contact lenses are specially designed contacts for correcting astigmatism. People with astigmatism have corneas that aren’t perfectly rounded, which causes light to bend in a way that hits multiple spots on the retina as opposed to just one. The result? Blurry vision at all distances (and possibly other symptoms, too). Toric contact lenses correct this refractive error, giving people with astigmatism clear vision.
Keep reading to learn more about what makes toric lenses unique, how they work, and whether they’re right for you.
What’s the Difference Between Toric and “Normal” Contact Lenses?
There are several differences between toric and “regular” contacts. Astigmatism is a very common eye condition, though, so we wouldn’t consider toric contacts abnormal—just pretty darn amazing.
Shape and Fit
What does “toric” mean, anyway? While most other contacts are made for a spherical cornea (which is curved like a ball), toric lenses are made for an astigmatic cornea (which is curved like a torus shape or, more recognizably, a football).
The specialized shape of toric contact lenses creates different focusing powers vertically and horizontally across them. A prescription for toric contacts is more complex than others because it includes a cylindrical power component—you’ll see numbers in the “SPH,” “CYL,” and “Axis” columns on your toric contact lens prescription.
It’s not uncommon for someone with astigmatism to also have other vision problems to address, like nearsightedness or farsightedness. Toric contact lenses can address multiple refractive errors in a single lens. How cool is that?
Because of the complexity of toric lens prescriptions, these contacts need to stay in place to correct vision properly. So, toric contact lenses are made to ensure they don’t move around in the eye. The thickness of the lenses may be different in multiple zones, and the bottom might be truncated or weighted in some instances.
Due to the importance of correct orientation in the eyes, toric contact lenses have markings on them. These markings are hard to see with the naked eye. They’re actually there to help the optometrist with the fitting, but you can also use them when putting in contacts (if you can see them).
A precise fit is crucial for toric contact lenses, so you’ll want to be sure you get a thorough contact lens exam.
How To Put in Toric Contact Lenses
For the most part, you can put in a toric contact lens the same as any other contact, but it may benefit you to pay attention to orientation, as mentioned above.
In addition to using the markings as a guide, you can also orient the lens by having the weighted (or thicker) side of the contact at the bottom. Given the weighted nature of the lens, it might help to move the lens in an upward direction when inserting it.
How Do Toric Contact Lenses Work?
The unique shape of toric contacts allows for multiple refractive powers across the lens. In other words, the focusing power increases or decreases as you move vertically or horizontally across the lens. This design corrects the refractive error caused by astigmatism, making light focus on one point of the retina for clear vision.
Who Should Wear Toric Contact Lenses?
Toric contact lenses are for people with an astigmatism correction—with or without the presence of additional refractive errors. Toric lenses can correct vision for people with either corneal astigmatism (caused by an irregularly shaped cornea) or lenticular astigmatism (caused by an irregularly shaped lens).
Like other contacts, toric lenses need to be prescribed by an optometrist. It can sometimes take a little more time upfront to get properly fitted for toric contact lenses because they are so specialized, so be prepared for a longer eye exam. Toric contacts also tend to cost a bit more than other types of contacts because they are manufactured to correct more than one power.
Can You Wear Regular Contact Lenses if You Have Astigmatism?
This question is best left for your eye doctor. The degree of your astigmatism, the shape of your eye, and other factors may impact whether non-toric lenses could be an option for you. Some people with mild astigmatism can wear non-toric contacts.
Types of Toric Contact Lenses
There’s a wide variety of astigmatism contacts available, including monthly, biweekly, and even daily toric contact lenses. Toric lenses are available as soft or hard contacts, but soft toric lenses are often considered more comfortable.
You can find toric contact lenses from numerous brands by trusted manufacturers like Coopervision, Alcon, Bausch + Lomb, and Johnson & Johnson.