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What are Toric Contact Lenses?

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A woman holds a toric contact lens on her index finger in front of her face

Blurry, distorted vision can be frustrating. While it’s often due to a refractive error like myopia or hyperopia, this isn’t always true; sometimes, it’s due to a condition called astigmatism. This can be more difficult to treat with traditional methods. Fortunately, there’s a solution to astigmatism: toric contact lenses.

Unlike regular contacts, toric contact lenses are more oblong like an oval, and have different focusing powers throughout the lens. This lets them correct conditions like astigmatism properly, giving you clear and comfortable vision.

The Difference Between Toric Lenses & Regular Contact Lenses

When you’re wearing a regular pair of contact lenses, it’s likely for a refractive error like myopia (nearsightedness) or hyperopia (farsightedness). These conditions are caused by a problem with the shape of your eye or cornea, which leads to light entering the eye wrong. Regular contact lenses aim to correct this by altering light as it enters the eye, therefore accommodating your natural refractive error.

Toric contact lenses operate similarly to this—they’re changing how light reaches the eye. They’re designed for a condition called “astigmatism.” This condition causes light to scatter as it enters the eye. Instead of bending properly to a single focal point, light reaches several different points, resulting in blurry and distorted vision at any distance. Think of an eye with astigmatism being shaped like a football, rather than a soccer ball.

How Do Toric Lenses Work?

Unlike regular spherical lenses, which have the same power throughout the entire lens, toric lenses have different powers in specific meridians of the lens to correct the varying degrees of astigmatism. They’re also weighted or ballasted to ensure the lens stays in the correct orientation on the eye.

Think of it like different prescriptions and corrective powers throughout the lens to correct the irregular shape of the eye. Instead of being universal, they correct light where it needs to be correct, helping you see the world clearly without blurry vision and scattering light.

A woman placing a toric contact lens onto her eye

How Do Toric Contact Lenses Work?

Each toric lens is designed specifically to correct a person’s vision. They’re engineered with precision so that every power element in each part of the lens does its part to give you clear vision. But to do this, the lens has to be properly aligned with your eye; because of the shape, it can cause significant blurriness if the lens is off-center.

While regular contacts can do their job even if they rotate, remember that astigmatism is due to an irregular curve in the eye. Toric lenses have to line up properly around the eye so they can properly function.

Because of this, each toric lens has something called an “axis” which is used to make sure the lens aligns with your eye correctly. This axis is marked on each lens and it corresponds with a specific meridian of your eye. The toric lenses are designed to rotate slightly on your eyes until this axis points in the correct direction, ensuring that they stay in place and provide optimal vision correction.

Tips for Wearing Toric Contacts

If you have astigmatism, there’s an important piece of information to note. Switching to toric lenses may be a bit of an adjustment, especially if you’ve gotten used to wearing regular contact lenses over the years.

Because of this, it can help to start with a visit to your optometrist. They can give you up-to-date advice on making the change to toric lenses and can give their recommendation on transitioning smoothly to toric lenses.

Afterward, it can help to:

  • Wear the toric lenses regularly. Avoid switching to more traditional contacts; this can make the transitional period take longer.
  • Give the lenses time to settle in the right orientation: It can take a few minutes for a toric contact to align properly. Vision may be blurry for the first few minutes while these lenses settle into the proper orientation. 
  • Never wear out-of-date lenses, and make sure you’re replacing the lenses, solution, and case as recommended by your optometrist and the expiration date
  • Be patient with yourself. You’ll get the hang of it soon!

If you ever have any questions about your toric lenses, reach out to your optometrist; they’ll be able to help.

Are Toric Contact Lenses Right for You?

If you have astigmatism, toric lenses might just be the answer you’ve been looking for. So reach out to our team here at Family Vision Care! We can perform a contact lens fitting and exam to determine if toric lenses can actually help, and can give you advice on helping you keep your vision clear. You deserve clear, comfortable vision, so book an appointment with our team today!

Dr. Jessica DeLuca

Written by Dr. Jessica DeLuca, OD

Dr. Jessica DeLuca received her doctorate at The Ohio State University College of Optometry in 2021 graduating Magna Cum Laude. She also received the 2021 Excellence in Binocular Vision and Pediatrics Award.

She has extensive training in fitting contact lenses, performing diabetic eye exams, as well as managing dry eye, glaucoma, and age-related macular degeneration. She was born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and attended the University of Pittsburgh for her undergraduate education.

Her favorite hobbies include exercising, spending time outdoors, and relaxing with her dog.

More Articles By Dr. Jessica DeLuca, OD

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