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Astigmatism

Posted on Thursday, May 24th, 2012

Dave!"Astigmatism is an optical defect in which vision is blurred due to the inability of the optics of the eye to focus a point object into a sharp focused image on the retina. This may be due to an irregular or toric curvature of the cornea or lens."
Wikipedia

I know that 40 is just a number but, when it comes to how old you are, it's a pretty important number. Because that's the age most people notice things starting to go wrong. I've been luckier than most... except when it comes to eyesight. My eyes went very bad very quickly in my teens and then just kind of stuck there. My prescription has been the same for decades.

And then I hit 40 and astigmatism struck.

Well, not really... it had been happening for years... but it was 40 when it started to be a problem. Things were blurry and I couldn't focus well. Straight lines weren't quite straight. And it was all because my cornea was no longer shaped to focus properly, instead scattering the light on my retina...

Eyeballs!

And so it was finally time to do something about it.

Long story short? I'm wearing glasses more often than contact lenses now. In addition, through trial-and-error I've found a contact lens I like for those times I don't want to wear glasses. If you're dealing with astigmatism and care about the details, I've put my notes in an extended entry.

Otherwise... try to avoid turning 40, if you can manage it.

DISCLAIMER: What works (or doesn't work) for me, is not going to be the same for everybody. Only your eye care professional can figure out what's right for you. These are just observations I've made for myself in the event they'll help anybody out who's Googling for information.

PROS AND CONS OF SOLUTIONS I'VE TRIED...

CooperVision Biofinity Toric Contact Lenses (approx. $14 per month at discount)

  • PRO: Can be used for both extended and daily wear.
  • PRO: Incredibly comfortable. Insanely comfortable. Probably the most comfortable lenses I have ever worn.
  • PRO: Stunning distance-vision. Seriously, I feel like Superman here. I haven't seen distance objects this sharp in over a decade. These lenses make me want to re-take every vacation I've had over the past five years so I can see what I was missing.
  • CON: Slippery and difficult to handle.
  • CON: Notice a slight increase in light-sensitivity.
  • CON: Really bad near-vision. Objects within one foot are pretty much unrecognizable. I can't read a book or see my iPhone screen at any distance without reading glasses... this is saying quite a lot, because I have long arms.
  • GRADE: B- I would love these if they didn't screw up my near-vision so badly.

Bausch & Lomb PureVision 2 Toric Contact Lenses (approx. $17 per month at discount)

  • PRO: Can be used for both extended and daily wear.
  • CON: Horrendously fucking uncomfortable. They burn my eyes so badly that I can't even make it through one damn day wearing them. Even after sterilizing and rinsing the stupid things, they are incredibly painful. Either they are made of acid, or I have screwed up eye chemistry or something.
  • CON: Fit is terrible. Even if they weren't burning through my cornea, I still couldn't wear them because they hurt like hell.
  • CON: Made my eyes so light-sensitive that even a hint of sunlight caused my eyes to water uncontrollably.
  • CON: Even if I ignored the burning and poor fit, I still wouldn't wear them because my vision isn't that great in them.
  • GRADE: D+ Granted, I didn't give these lenses much of a fair shake, but how could I? Just the act of wearing them made me want to gouge my eyes out. Horrible lenses. A complete waste of $95.

Johnson & Johnson 1-Day Acuvue Moist for Astigmatism (approx. $45 per month at discount)

  • PRO: Dailies! A fresh lens every day!
  • PRO: Unexpectedly comfortable. Not Biofinity comfortable, but close.
  • PRO: A good compromise between distance-vision and near-vision. I can see my iPhone okay, yet still have sharpness when looking at distant objects.
  • PRO: No light-sensitivity issues.
  • CON: DID YOU LOOK AT THAT PRICE TAG?!? Even when shopping online for a discount, the best I can do is $45 for 30x2 lenses. I appreciate the technology that must go into these things, but that's frickin' insane.
  • GRADE: B If it weren't for the cost, these would be my lens of choice, hands-down. I'd hold out hope that this is because they're new and they'll cheapen up after a while, but that's probably not going to happen. Such a shame.

Free-Form, Single-Vision HD Eyeglass Lenses (approx. $325 without frame)

  • PRO: An excellent compromise between distance-vision and near-vision. I can see my iPhone fairly easily, yet still have sharpness when looking at distant objects.
  • PRO: The HD feature, while pricey, provides a much wider field of vision than "regular" lenses.
  • PRO: Assuming that they last for two years, the monthly cost is about $13.50, my cheapest option by 50¢. Anything past 24 months is gravy.
  • PRO: Since you're not sticking something to your eye, the lenses are really comfortable if you get the right frames.
  • CON: They're glasses. Steam, rain, fingerprints, etc. will all have a negative effect on your vision.
  • CON: If you have a strong prescription (as I do) your face gets distorted behind the lenses.
  • CON: The pricing for the HD is crazy-expensive but, now that I've gone HD, I would have a hard time going back to non-HD lenses.
  • GRADE: B I just prefer contacts to glasses. I always have. And yet... these are not a bad option at all for me. I see well and am comfortable at a price that is initially expensive as hell, but ultimately cheaper in the long run.

And so...?

I am wearing glasses most of the time now... especially if I am working. I can see fairly near and really far with no trouble, and see better than I can in any contact lens I've tried. Even when sitting in front of a computer display or laptop for hours, my eyes don't get tired. I don't necessarily like the way I look in glasses, but there's no denying they're the best solution (vision-wise) for me.

But during those rare times when I'm not working... or when I'm traveling... I bite the bullet and pay the obscene price for the Acuvue dailies. They are comfortable and have the best compromise between near and far vision. The icing on the cake being that they're disposable so I don't have to mess around with saline solution, lens cases, cleaning supplies, and all that hassle when I'm traveling. I do have to travel with a pair of reading glasses, however... because extended reading or working gets tiring without them.

Ah to be 20 years old and astigmatism-free again!

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Comments

  1. Kathy says:

    My 16 year old son and I both have astigmatism. Unfortunately I also have a corneal dystrophy, so contacts aren’t an option for me, but he’s had good luck with Ciba Vision Air Optix for Astigmatism. They’re pretty much the only ones he’s tried that he’s found comfortable at all. They are hella expensive, though. Apparently in addition to having astigmatism he has a weird prescription that limits his choices where contacts are concerned, or maybe that’s just some bullshit the eye doctor told us so we’d have to get the expensive lenses.

  2. Kyra Wilson says:

    Oh give it up. You KNOW you are extra-sexy in your glasses. Sounds like a lot of fishing for compliments to me…. ;)

  3. Sybil Law says:

    So far, so good, here; 41 and no need for glasses yet. Unless I just jinxed myself.
    Also, that shouldn’t include the Jameson double vision nights.

  4. the muskrat says:

    I have an astigmatism but am far-sighted, so they cancel each other out to some degree (an optometrist told me when I was little, probably to simplify things), such that I’m okay w/o glasses if I’m not working or driving at night or something. I have a feeling that’ll change when I’m > 40, though.

  5. Steve in NH says:

    Hey Dave. The vision thing only gets worse :) I am almost 46 now. I got distant glasses (astigmatism) when I was 12. I tried contacts off-and-on until I hit 40 and needed near vision correction as well. I hate bifocals. Here’s what I labor with: bifocals, far-only glasses, far-only sunglasses, near-vision glasses for work, mid-distance glasses for piano and computer. Luckily I can just pull off my distance glasses for near stuff like iphone or shopping. I was so bent about this for a few years; now I am used to it. And I am a major fuss-budget. Take heart.

    P.S. Ironically, people tell me my best feature are my eyes and they are always covered up with glasses.

  6. Stacey says:

    Heh. I’m 31 and have to have my eyes examined at LEAST once a year because I have astigmatism in both eyes and it keeps changing in my left. Wonder what I have to look forward to when I’m 40. I use Acuvue Oasys for Astigmatism. They’re two week disposables and I like them, but they’re kinda pricey. I also have a pair of glasses that I don’t like to wear because smudged lens drive me batty.

  7. Megan says:

    I’ve had an astigmatism all my life. I never had a pair of contacts that corrected for them because back in the day the choices were basically hard contacts that would spin like crazy in your eye.

    Then I had RK surgery, and it was awesome. Except that now my 40+ eyes are doing the “old” thing and I can’t even wear contacts anymore because of the RK. Boo, hiss.

    I will say that the astigmatic eye is now driving me insane. There’s a blur right in the center. I wear glasses for reading and computer work now (progressives, goddess help me!).

    This getting older stuff can bite me.

  8. Lora says:

    I have really bad astigmatism plus steep corneas making my eyes a challenge to fit. Recently I switched to Air Optix for Astigmatism and have been so happy with them. I can’t remember what I was wearing before but they were ridiculously expensive and they had become so uncomfortable that I didn’t want to wear them plus my vision just wasn’t good enough in them anymore. The optician suggested this option and I nearly jumped up and down in the office when I tried them – they are that comfortable and my vision is that good. The pricing is relatively inexpensive as far as contacts go (especially compared to my last lenses). If you’re interested your doctor should be able to get you a free sample pair. You wear them for 30 days. I can’t say enough good things about them!

  9. Alexander says:

    I’ll second the Ciba Vision Air Optix for Astigmatism lenses. I’m doing the monocular contact lens thing (one eye close, one eye distant) so my overall vision is still compromised, but each lens in and of itself is great. Going to ask my doctor for a script for distance in both eyes next because they are the most comfortable lenses I’ve ever worn.

  10. Fluffycat says:

    I have a bit of an astigmatism in both eyes, but I am wondering if turning 40 (which is not too far off for me) is going to make it worse. I am wondering about getting laser corrective surgery, but I am a bit freaked out by someone slicing into my eyeball.

  11. karla says:

    I’ve been blind as a bat and astigmatic sine I was a little kid. Finally got diagnosed in 3rd grade. Wore glasses until 8th grade, then got contacts which I wore continually until my late 20’s when I was diagnosed with dry eyes, and my eyes were actually growing veins to get more air into them as my contacts dried out my eyes even more. So I stopped wearing them for many years.

    Am now trying to wear them again, and have found that the Johnson and Johnson ones you like ARE the most comfy, even if they cost a bomb (and in Norway? Try over $100 a month.) BUT even then they only last for most of a day before my eyes dry out, and then I have to carry around THREE pair of glasses: sunglasses, my normal glasses for when I can no longer stand wearing the contacts, and reading glasses because GETTING OLD SUCKS.

    GETTING OLD SUCKS.

  12. I’ve had astigmatism since I was a teenager. I did a contact lens trial at uni for several years so got some lenses for free which was nice. I did find that contact lenses with astigmatism can be a pain because they need to be oriented correctly to work, so if you tilted your head they got out of alignment, so things like reading sideways in bed didn’t work. After a few years they thought my eyes were getting too scratched up to use contact lenses, so I haven’t used them since.. oh well…

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