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The simple and straightforward answer is: Yes, you can. And, it’s not even a big issue. Actually, one third of all people that wear contact lenses also need to correct for astigmatism. Astigmatism affects people regardless of whether their other vision issues are with nearsightedness or farsightedness.
The current percentage of people being corrected for this common eye issue is only around 20%, which means the remainder of people are walking around untreated. This isn’t a positive result, as having uncorrected astigmatism means your vision may not be as clear as it should be, and it can lead to complications in the future.
Uncorrected astigmatism often causes people to strain their eyes, which can cause headaches and ‘tired eyes’ if the lenses are worn for a prolonged period. You may also experience difficulty in focusing, resulting in negative changes to your prescription.
So, why isn’t everyone with astigmatism diagnosed and subsequently prescribed special contact lenses that combat the problem? Here are three main reasons:
1. Sadly, it’s harder to be properly fitted for this complex type of contact lens, and some optometrists lack understanding about the tests needed for the fitting process. Others don’t have the extra time needed for a proper fitting, as it requires longer chair time, and may involve further visits when the product needs to ordered in.
There are a large number of combinations of astigmatism and their various associated short and far-sighted prescriptions. Therefore, the fitting process calls for more experience and a longer time to test different lens sizes and combinations.
2. This type of contact lens costs around 30% more than basic short/long-sighted ‘single vision’ contact lens. Some people don’t want to pay more, even though it’s going to improve their lives. The added expense is a reflection of the manufacturing costs for more elaborate and involved designs. Put simply, they are difficult products to create.
3. There are more restrictions in product availability. These contact lenses come in dailies, fortnightly and monthly options, plus you can have them custom made if your eyes’ shape and size don’t fall into one of those from the disposable range.
There are so many prescription and eye size combinations, and each manufacturer restricts the amount of combinations they produce. This means we have to check various brands to see what is available, and to work out the best size for the patient’s eyes.
It’s very challenging for the optometrist, as we need to find the best brand for the individual person, adjusting size options to discover the optimum combination. This issue is exacerbated by some optometry clinics that only sell a single brand. If your size isn’t there, chances are they’ll give you the closest size possible, but in truth it won’t be nearly as good as one from another brand’s range.
You should shop around – not for the brand of astigmatism contact lens, but for an experienced optometrist. Some only use one brand, whereas there are at least 6 brands on the Australian market.
Visual Q has contact lens for astigmatism made by Bausch & Lomb, Johnson & Johnson, Ciba Vision, CooperVision, ACL (Australian Contact Lenses) and CLCA (Contact Lens Centre Australia). It’s doubtful you’ll have an eye size/prescription combination that we can’t cover.
Even though we sell all 6 brands, Bausch & Lomb recently informed us that Visual Q is in the ‘Top 5’ for optometry clinics in the Eastern Victoria region that supply Bausch & Lomb astigmatism contact lenses! This is amazing. How many people are going undiagnosed?
You deserve the best sight possible with the most comfortable fit. Contact lenses are like shoes. Some ‘fit’, but they’re not the best fit. Like shoes, the same size can vary between brands. We don’t believe the size you’ve previously been prescribed will always fit you better than all of the available options. We need to compare different sizes and brands.
If you already know your size, we’ll check at least two brands. If we don’t, we’ll test 3 or 4 different combinations of brand, size, and prescription in order to find the best fit for you.
Note: Astigmatism contact lenses are sold in 3-month or 6-month supply packs, while dailies come in either sets of 30 or 90 pairs.
* Thanks to Ian Broyles for this image.