Thursday , March 23 2023

Astigmatism, Contact Lenses, and Headaches

Headaches are prevalent and can be caused by many things. Some are symptoms of common illnesses like flu, while others are triggered by environmental factors and even emotional stress.

But while these common factors are widely known, the actual cause of your headache could be more difficult to determine. Some triggers can’t be easily identified (like wearing the wrong contact lenses) unless placed under the scrutiny of a medical professional.

Some headaches caused by the eyes are due to refractive errors, but others could be because of astigmatism. But even then, there’s possibly more you need to know than that.

Here, you’ll learn what astigmatism entails, the specific type of contact lenses to be used for the condition, and how headaches relate to both.

What is astigmatism?

Astigmatism is a type of refractive error caused by the uneven or abnormal curvature of the cornea. Because of its shape, the cornea directs light into the retina differently, limiting the eye’s ability to focus.

The incorrect light focus leads to distorted or blurry vision, making it difficult to identify details and even shapes at any given distance. As a result, astigmatism also comes with fatigue, eye strain, and headaches.

In most cases, astigmatism appears at birth and can be inherited. It can also result from incorrect posture, work that requires close-up vision, and added pressure from the eyelids on the cornea.

There are two types of astigmatism, namely:

Regular Astigmatism

Also called “corneal astigmatism,” this is the most common form of astigmatism that involves the cornea taking the shape of an oval instead of a sphere.

Regular astigmatism can be corrected using prescription glasses, contact lenses, or surgery.

Irregular Astigmatism

Irregular astigmatism is also characterized by multidirectional curving of the cornea. But unlike regular astigmatism, it curves in varying degrees. Because of this, rigid gas permeable (RGP) contact lenses are the best treatment for it.

Is there a contact lens made for astigmatism?

Besides prescription glasses, a specific type of contact lens can also be used to correct refractive errors caused by astigmatism called toric contact lenses.

Unlike regular contacts, toric lenses for astigmatism have higher light-bending power in one direction. These are also thicker and bigger than your standard corrective contact lenses, with the bottom half “heavier” than the top to ensure that the lenses don’t move around.

Aside from improving vision clarity, this type of lens also reduces distortions and offers a wider visual field than glasses. Plus, they don’t interfere with physical activities the same way eyeglass frames might.

Toric lenses can also help correct farsightedness or nearsightedness, but they’re specifically designed to deal with low to moderate astigmatism.

When choosing toric lenses, you have three options:

Soft contact lenses

These soft and flexible contact lenses are ideal for mild to moderate astigmatism. They are easy and comfortable to use.

The only downside is that it’s much more challenging to get the right fit for this type of lens. They also aren’t as clear as RGP or hybrid lenses and can become misaligned easily.

Rigid gas permeable (RGP) Contact Lenses

RGP lenses support breathability and oxygen flow to the eyes. They may feel less comfortable when first worn compared to soft contacts and tend to be drier. But once you adapt over time, they’ll be easier to wear.

RGP contacts are most recommended for astigmatism because of the clear and sharp vision they provide. They also don’t get misaligned easily, though they can still get dislodged with physical activity.

They do have one more drawback: Debris collects underneath the lenses if not properly cleaned, which could lead to irritation.

Hybrid contact lenses

As the name suggests, hybrid contacts are made with a combination of RGP and soft lenses. It has a harder RGP center and soft hydrogel material along the edges.

Hybrid lenses offer the comfort and clear vision of soft and RGP contacts, respectively. They are also a bit bigger and have thin edges, making them less likely to fall out even during physical activity.

Can contact lenses cause headaches?

Toric lenses – or any contact lens, for that matter – are not ideal for self-treatment. You need to consult an eye doctor and have a licensed optical company in the UAE make a pair specifically designed for your eyes.

If you don’t, you’ll be risking a wide range of adverse effects, including headaches. Contact lenses can lead to this painful symptom if you:

  • Get the wrong prescription.

While it’s not very common, an error contact lens prescription can cause eye strain because of the mismatch in the lenses’ refractive power and the eyes’ needs. As such, it also causes headaches if not dealt with immediately.

To correct this, have your lenses replaced with the correct ones.

  • Use ill-fitting lenses.

Whether they are made from soft silicone hydrogel or gas permeable material, toric lenses should fit the non-uniform curvature of the eyeball. They need to sit in a specific position to be effective in treating astigmatism.

Otherwise, not only do you fail to reap the benefits of the lenses, but you could also experience adverse symptoms like eye strain and headaches.

  • Experience dry eyes.

Medically known as “keratoconjunctivitis sicca,” dry eyes can also lead to eye discomfort and headaches. Basically, your tear ducts don’t make enough tears that make up a protective film over the eyes.

Dry eyes make the eyes more sensitive to light, which leads to constant squinting. The muscle tension from the repeated action can lead to headaches, usually occurring later in the day.

  • Have Computer Vision Syndrome.

Working several hours in front of a computer or any type of screen can increase your risk of developing Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS).

While wearing lenses doesn’t necessarily make you more susceptible to the condition, it aggravates the two common symptoms of CVS: headache and eye strain. This explains why the longer you work at a computer while wearing lenses, the more frequently your headaches occur afterward.

Talk to your optician or any eye professional about a better eyesight correction alternative if you have CVS.

Deal with Astigmatism and Headaches

Headaches caused by eye conditions may not be prevalent, but they occur more frequently than you know. One way to make sure you can deal with both astigmatism and headaches is to talk to your eye doctor about the symptoms. Learn what matters with the help of this article.

Disclaimer: The statements, opinions, and data contained in these publications are solely those of the individual authors and contributors and not of Credihealth and the editor(s). 

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