Toric contact lenses are contact lenses which have been designed for people with astigmatism. Unlike regular contacts, which simply correct for hyperopia or myopia, these lenses actually have two powers, one which corrects the astigmatism, and one which deals with the patient's vision problems. Historically, people with severe astigmatism could not wear contacts, but the development of high quality toric lenses has changed this, making it possible for almost anyone with astigmatism to wear contacts if they would prefer them to glasses.
One of the key issues with contact lenses which correct astigmatism is that they must remain anchored in place on the eye, because the shape of the patient's eye is distorted. If the contact rotates or moves, the vision correction will no longer be as accurate. For this reason, toric contact lenses are usually weighted to cause the lens to fall into place and stay in place in the eye, with the weighted end being at the bottom of the contact. Patients can put the lenses it at any orientation, and when they blink, the weighted end will be pulled to the bottom.
Toric contact lenses can be obtained in both soft and rigid gas permeable (RGP) designs. Some patients prefer RGP lenses because they can yield crisper vision and stay in place on the eye more effectively. These lenses are usually very comfortable to wear, in contrast with the true hard contact lenses of the past. They can also be obtained in colored or tinted styles, and in disposable formats, for patients who prefer to wear disposable lenses.
It is important to fit toric contact lenses properly. The fitting process requires more precision and time than the fitting for ordinary round contacts, and toric lenses tend to be more expensive because they must be tailored to the patient's eye. Patients should make sure that they have a contact lens fitting with a doctor who takes his or her time to ensure that the contacts fit properly and comfortably, and that the patient's vision is truly corrected with the lenses.
Even after toric contact lenses have been fitted and a prescription has been written, it is a good idea to have periodic eye exams. These exams can confirm that the prescription is still accurate and that the shape of the patient's eye has not changed, and they can be used as an opportunity to check for the signs of developing vision problems or disease which could endanger the eye.