Glasses vs. Contacts for Astigmatism

Astigmatism is one of the most frequently misunderstood conditions we see at Access Eye. It is also extremely common — most of us probably have some degree of astigmatism.

Astigmatism means that the cornea, or the clear covering of the eye, is irregularly curved. A healthy cornea has an even, round curvature similar to the shape of a basketball. A cornea with astigmatism has an uneven oval curvature like a football.

When the cornea is unevenly curved, it cannot uniformly bend, or refract, light entering the eye toward the retina. Instead, light is refracted unevenly inside the eye. This causes blurry and distorted vision. Some people with astigmatism describe their warped vision as similar to looking into a funhouse mirror at a carnival.

Luckily, astigmatism is completely treatable with glasses and contact lenses.

Finding the Choice That’s Right for You

Many people feel that glasses are the simplest way to correct for astigmatism. Glasses are easy to wear and clean. There is no learning curve for first-time wearers, and no risk of transmitting bacteria to the eyes and developing an infection. However, there are drawbacks to wearing glasses: cosmetically, some people find them unappealing. Also, they can cause glare and glare-induced headaches. And, the frames may be a source of discomfort on the nose.

Contact lenses have their own advantages and disadvantages. The lenses conform to the curvature of the eye to provide the most natural vision possible and a wide field of view. Contacts do not interfere with physical activities, like working out or playing sports like glasses do. And unlike glasses, contacts are invisible, so no one can tell you are wearing them.

On the other hand, contacts are not as easy to use as glasses; they require special cleaning and care. The act of touching your eye to put them in and take them out puts you at risk of infection. And importantly, some lenses for astigmatism must remain properly aligned in order to provide clear, stable vision. Since these lenses are designed with different optical powers in different portions of the lens to correct for the uneven corneal curvature, rotating or shifting out of position causes blurry or inconsistent vision. (Modern toric lenses have overcome this problem by featuring a built-in counterweight to keep the lenses in alignment.)

Ultimately there is no single right choice for everyone. What is best for you depends on what you value (i.e., comfort, convenience, flexibility). Fortunately, you have options, and the team at Access Eye can help you weigh the pros and cons of each.

To learn more about correcting for astigmatism with glasses or contacts, please contact our team of eye experts today.