Many people have heard of astigmatism but may not realize that there are actually several different types. Irregular astigmatism is very similar to regular astigmatism in that the surface of the cornea is not perfectly rounded. However, rather than the cornea being evenly shaped, which occurs mostly in one direction, it is very uneven and/or curved in multiple directions. For example, the top half of the cornea could curve more steeply than the bottom.
Irregular astigmatism is much less common than regular astigmatism and is more often seen in patients with conditions like keratoconus (abnormal thinning and elongating of the cornea), and in people who have previously experienced trauma to the eye. It can be diagnosed by conducting an assessment of the shape of your cornea. This can be done manually, but an increasing number of eye doctors are investing in the latest scanning technologies which are able to take a 3D image of the surface of your eye.
Just like with regular astigmatism, people with irregular astigmatism will find that their condition affects the quality of their vision. Instead of being able to see things in clear focus, patients will experience blurry and distorted vision at all distances. They may find that their eyes tire easily and they suffer from the symptoms of eyestrain, which can include headaches and excessive watering of the eyes. Poor night vision and glare are other common problems.
While there are several potential treatments for irregular astigmatism, contact lenses are one of the preferred options recommended by many eye doctors. However, regular contact lenses won’t be suitable. Instead, patients will need to wear a variety of specialty contact lenses. Your eye doctor will be able to help you decide which specialty contacts are right for you. Your options will include:
Scleral contact lenses have a different design than regular contacts. They are much larger in diameter, and they vault over the surface of the cornea, leaving a space between the back of the contact lens and the front surface of the cornea. This vault provides enough space to accommodate corneal abnormalities, such as those that occur in irregular astigmatism. Subsequently, the power of the contact lens and the size can then be customized to suit your individual needs.
RGP stands for rigid gas permeable, another type of specialty contact lens. As their name suggests, they are harder and more rigid than standard contact lenses. They are also gas permeable, allowing oxygen to pass through them and reach the surface of the eyes. Gas permeable lenses enable tear film to pool underneath the lens and fill the gaps caused by irregular curvature. In doing so, they can enhance patient vision. Since they are more rigid, many patients find RGP lenses uncomfortable at first, although they soon get used to them.
Just like regular soft lenses, specialty soft contacts have the ability to closely adhere to the different curves of the cornea in patients with irregular astigmatism. Combined with the personalization of power and curvature, soft contacts can be created to precisely match your ocular needs.
Hybrid contact lenses combine a rigid, gas-permeable center with a softer skirt around the edges. This enables patients to enjoy the benefits of RGP lenses but with the comfort that is associated with softer contact lenses.
If you have been diagnosed with irregular astigmatism and would like more information about how contact lenses could help correct your vision, please contact our dedicated eyecare specialists that proudly serve the Gainesville and Newberry areas. You can call Hedges Eye Care in Newberry, Florida at (352) 306-1103 today for an appointment.