There are normal people who wear contact lenses, and then there are those who have astigmatism and also wear contacts. Being a person with astigmatism, I too struggled with finding a pair of daily disposable contact lenses for my eyes.
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It turns out that the ophthalmologists have developed special contact lenses for us astigmatic people. Of course since are are fewer of us compared to normal people, these lenses tend to be on the higher side of the price scale. These contact lenses are known as Toric Lenses. Probably because they have the shape of a torus, which is a donut. But I donut think they are actually donuts for our eyes.
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Anyways, if you have astigmatism, then you would know that the shape of your eye is not a perfect sphere. It may be a little ovalish? My optometrist put it simply by saying my eyes are shaped more like footballs instead of footballs.
Side note: I am of the opinion that soccer balls should be called foot balls because we actually use our feet to play this game. Footballs, as the Americans call them, should be referred to as hand-eggs, or rugby balls.
Anyways, my rugby ball shaped eyes require Toric lenses. These contact lenses have an extra curve to them on axis which is not the actual convex shape of the lens.
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The curve of the convex shape is known as power or the spherical dimension of the prescription. Generally, the greater the curve, the stronger the prescription. However, when your eyes are not perfectly round, that lens has to bent to match the shape of your eye for a snug fit. That’s where we start seeing numbers such as cylinder and axis. Because the eye is now elongated instead of perfectly round, we measure this imperfection the same way we would measure the curve of a cylinder. If your cylinder value is 0, then you do not have astigmatism. If your cylinder number is between -0.25 and +0.25 then you have a tiny amount of astigmatism. This is much is barely noticeable. When your cylinder gets closer to -0.5 and +0.5 then you tend towards mild astigmatism. More than -0.5 or +0.5 then you have a normal amount of astigmatism. Any cylinder value more then -1.0 and +1.0, then you have severe astigmatism.
Learn how to Convert astigmatism into normal contact lenses
Then there is the axis value. To keep it simple, your eyes will not always be elongated horizontally. It maybe at an angle. This number ranges between -180 degrees to +180 degrees. The closer this number is to zero, the more horizontal or vertical your eyes are depending on how your optometrist writes your prescription.
For a perfect fit, you will use contact lenses which match the spherical, cylinder, and axis values on your prescription. But let me let you in on a secret: You actually CAN wear normal contacts, even if you have astigmatism. This is particularly true for those who have astigmatism or cylinder values between -0.5 to +0.5. You can in fact just get normal contact lenses and see fairly clearly. I do not recommend doing this for every day of your life, but the occasional party or football (with the feet) game is okay.
If you have astigmatism numbers greater than -0.5 or +0.5, then I would recommend using toric lenses. However, this is again not a hard law. You can STILL get away with wearing normal contact lenses with mild astigmatism. But to do this properly, you will have to convert your astigmatism prescription into a normal contact lens prescription. Read this article to find out how. You can also refer to this conversion chart to find what power of normal contact lens you can use if you have astigmatism.