As we age, our eyes undergo changes, possibly leading to eye conditions like astigmatism or presbyopia.
Over 32 million Americans have both these conditions. If you’re one of them, you may have been told you can’t wear lenses that correct both or even any contacts at all. The good news is that’s a myth!
In this post, we’ll debunk that misconception, discuss astigmatism and presbyopia, and explore a potential solution.
What Is Astigmatism?
Astigmatism is a common refractive error caused by an irregular curvature of the eye’s cornea or lens. In a perfectly shaped eye, the cornea and lens are uniformly curved, allowing light to focus evenly on the retina. But in eyes with astigmatism, this uneven curvature disrupts the light’s path, leading to blurry or distorted vision.
The root causes of astigmatism can vary. For some people, it’s congenital, meaning they’re born with it. In others, it can develop due to factors like eye injuries, surgeries, or certain diseases. Regardless of its origin, astigmatism is a condition that affects many and can significantly impact daily life.
Common symptoms and signs of astigmatism include:
- Blurred or distorted vision at all distances
- Eye strain or discomfort
- Difficulty seeing at night
- Constantly squinting
What Is Presbyopia?
Presbyopia is a natural part of the aging process that affects our ability to focus on near objects clearly. As we age, the lens inside our eye becomes less flexible, making it challenging to adjust our focus from far to near, or vice versa.
Unlike astigmatism, which can be present from birth or develop due to external factors, presbyopia is an inevitable condition that everyone experiences to some degree as they grow older.
The exact cause of presbyopia lies in the lens’s elasticity. With age, the proteins in the lens begin to break down, causing it to harden and lose its flexibility. This results in the lens’s diminished ability to change shape and focus on up-close objects as efficiently as it once did.
Common symptoms and signs of presbyopia include:
- Difficulty reading small print or doing close-up tasks
- Needing to hold reading materials at arm’s length
- Blurred vision at a normal reading distance
- Eye strain or headaches after reading or doing detailed work
- Needing brighter light for reading or close-up work
Toric Contact Lenses and How They Work
Unlike standard spherical contacts that have the same power throughout the lens, toric contact lenses have varying powers in different areas. This unique design is specifically tailored for people with astigmatism. The varying powers ensure that light is refracted, or bent, correctly onto the retina, providing a clear and sharp vision.
The “toric” aspect of these lenses refers to their distinct shape, which is similar to a slice of a donut rather than the symmetrical shape of a basketball. This ensures they align perfectly with the irregular curvature of the eye with astigmatism. Toric lenses are also designed to remain stable and not rotate on the eye, maintaining the correct orientation for optimal vision correction.
In a nutshell, toric lenses give those with astigmatism the chance to enjoy the benefits of contact lenses without compromising on clarity and comfort.
Multifocal Contact Lenses and How They Work
A multifocal contact lens is like merging multiple pairs of glasses into one. Unlike standard spherical contacts, which offer a uniform prescription across the entire lens, multifocal lenses contain multiple prescription zones. These zones are tailored to provide clear vision at varying distances, catering to the needs of those with presbyopia.
Imagine a lens with concentric circles, like a target. The center might be designed for close-up reading, while the next circle outward corrects for intermediate vision, and the outermost zone offers distance correction. The design enables the wearer to shift focus from near to far smoothly, compensating for the aging eye’s reduced flexibility.
In essence, multifocal lenses let presbyopic individuals read a book, work on a computer, or recognize faces from afar without switching between different glasses.
What Are My Contact Lens Options?
While millions of Americans suffer from both astigmatism and presbyopia, only a fraction actually use contact lenses due to the need for custom ordering, which requires more fittings and visits to the eye doctor. Those who do wear contacts also experience compromised vision with limited available options, such as monovision or toric lenses paired with readers.
Bausch + Lomb ULTRA® Multifocal for Astigmatism is a relatively recent solution to these barriers to lens wear. Introduced in 2019, this lens offers an innovative and easy-to-fit multifocal toric lens without the hassle of custom lens ordering. It corrects both astigmatism and presbyopia with OpticAlign™ and 3-Zone Progressive™ Design, respectively.
OpticAlign stabilizes the lens and keeps it in place with each blink, while the three distinct zones with consistent power of 3-Zone Progressive Design ensure clear, seamless vision across key distances.
Ultimately, Bausch + Lomb ULTRA Multifocal for Astigmatism is a great choice for people with both astigmatism and presbyopia. Consult your eye care professional about whether this contact lens is right for you.