It is caused by corneas or lenses that have different shapes from normal ones.
“There are two ways to correct astigmatism: glasses and contact lenses. There are two types of contact lenses as well. First, contact lenses with astigmatism, the other one is orthokeratology,” said optometrist Jay Ong, the co-founder of EPL Optometrist.
Orthokeratology, or ortho-k, uses specially designed and fitted contact lenses to temporarily reshape the cornea to improve vision. Ortho-k lenses are worn at night to reshape the cornea while the wearers sleep.
Ong said astigmatism was common, especially among primary school students and office-working adults. These two groups are more likely to be exposed to electronic devices that indirectly cause them to have dry eyes. They will rub their eyes frequently, and this may trigger astigmatism.
Practicing optometry for 10 years now, Ong has examined more than 10,000 pairs of eyes. He has been in the optical field for almost 16 years and co-founded EPL Optometrist with his classmate, EJ, back in November 2014. EPL Optometrist has three outlets in Penang and one in Kota Damansara in the Klang Valley.
Choosing the right contact lenses
Ong said astigmatism could affect a person’s quality of life. If not appropriately managed, astigmatism could cause keratoconus or accidents while driving. People with astigmatism will also experience headaches, eye strain and discomfort.
Sharing his experience managing patients with astigmatism, Ong remarked some patients were hesitant to wear contact lenses for astigmatism as they were more pricey than normal ones. One of his customers had high astigmatism but she refused to wear toric lenses even after Ong recommended them to her.
“After diagnosing her, we let her try the lenses. She tried the lenses but declined to continue wearing them. However, after two weeks, she realised the difference between toric and regular lenses when she drove at night.
“With normal contact lenses, she felt the glare and halos coming from street and traffic lights. Also, cars coming from the opposite direction were causing her discomfort.”
After another two-day trial of wearing toric lenses, she decided to purchase them.
“At first, she tried daily ones, but they were quite expensive. So, we changed them to monthly ones, so she could save more. So, looking at this patient experience, it is about how we can get people to change their lifestyle by get the proper tools.”
Better view and clearer vision
Ong believes contact lenses give people a sense of freedom from glasses. It provides a clear vision and an unobstructed wider range of view compared to glasses.
Explaining his partnership with ACUVUE, Ong said: “They are the only provider that has a couple of base curves lenses for us to fit our patients.”
The base curve is the back curvature of a contact lens used to determine the curvature of the lens to the eye to provide the best fit and comfort. The lower the number, the steeper the curve of the lens.
“This means we can troubleshoot and manipulate the lenses to help patients. The optics zones of their lenses are quite big. So, they allow our patients to see better. They are a better fit and have clearer vision compared to other providers.” – The Health