Living with astigmatism
On a typical morning, I’m awakened by the blaring of my alarm clock. Then cue a groggy me struggling to switch off the alarm before the whole household wakes up. As someone with myopia (short-sightedness) and astigmatism, it can sometimes be pure guesswork finding the fiddly small rectangle that would shut the alarm up.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve had poor vision. I can’t see clearly past an arm’s length and for a long time, I’ve also had trouble focusing on lights at night, and would sometimes even see double.
This would sometimes lead to a dull headache whenever I wore my usual contact lenses for extended periods of time. It wasn’t until recently that I learnt how to address the underlying issue of these headaches. After 20 years of suffering, I finally learned how to correct my astigmatism with ACUVUE® OASYS 1-Day for Astigmatism. Here’s my story:
Discovering I had astigmatism
Spectacle frames came in all shapes and sizes, and I got these rectangular ones.
Image credit: Kimberley-Ann Tan
Being quite the vain teenager, I disliked wearing spectacles and constantly jumped from frame to frame trying to find something that matched my aesthetic. Post-secondary school, I finally traded chunky frames for contact lenses that wouldn’t conceal my best feature – my face.
But while glasses and contact lenses could fix my short-sightedness, I did not know that there was still an underlying astigmatism issue that I wasn’t addressing.
But what is astigmatism anyway? Being Chinese, I’ve heard my parents refer to it as 散光 (săn guāng), which means “splitting light”. It’s an apt name for the condition, as that’s what those with astigmatism tend to see, especially at night.
My usual face when I look at things far away, which results in me having throbbing headaches.
As someone who suffers from astigmatism, it isn’t just double images and streaky lights that I’ve had to contend with. Very much like the Queen of Squinting – Ariana Grande – herself, I would often squint my eyes to focus on posters and signboards even just a few metres away.
While this was a quick fix to get a clearer picture, my eyes often felt fatigued and I would get headaches from this. At times, the headaches were so severe, they put a pause on my day because my head was pounding.
Beyond just popping painkillers to soothe my headaches, I tried various ways to prevent them as well.
How I tried to solve my headaches
Cutting down on screen time, taking regular eye breaks, massaging my eyes, compensating with higher degree contact lenses – name any remedy you could think of and I’ve probably tried. While these quick fixes did help to ease my eye fatigue temporarily, my headaches persisted.
I even thought the issue could be that my myopia had worsened, especially since my vision was still blurry. I opted for higher degree lenses, thinking that my clear vision would return and perhaps the headaches would disappear for good.
This worked for a while – I had sharp vision and could continue wearing my usual brand of contact lenses. Little did I know that this ‘solution’ was anything but. As I would soon learn, I was doing my vision more harm than good.
Discovering toric lenses & making the switch
When my headaches once again returned, I finally decided to nip the problem in the bud by visiting a licensed optometrist to seek professional advice.
Mr Samuel Liew, an optometrist at Capitol Optical took me through a very thorough eye check-up that included a reading test and a cornea examination. He concluded that my astigmatism was much worse than I had thought, and not correcting the condition was what was giving me headaches.
Mr Liew conducting the routine eye check.
While I knew that seeing double and having a hard time looking at lights at night was because I had astigmatism, I still didn’t know why I had it or why just regular contact lenses didn’t help.
Mr Liew’s colleague, Mr Gan Jun Lim, explained that with this condition, “the eyes take on a shape resembling a rugby ball, resulting in blurry vision regardless of myopia.” He also said that it was a hereditary condition, so if you know anyone in your family with astigmatism, you should get your eyes checked too.
Because I had tried to fix my vision with contact lenses of a higher prescription, Mr Gan said that I could have potentially caused my myopia to worsen. Fortunately for me, Mr Liew found that all this didn’t seem to aggravate my astigmatism further.
To fix the issue, Mr Liew recommended that I switch out my current contact lenses for toric lenses or contact lenses for astigmatism. At the microscopic level, toric lenses are shaped differently so they’re a more comfortable fit for misshapen eyes.
The Slit Lamp allowed Mr Liew to check my vision.
Mr Gan explained that different parts of the eye actually require a different degree. “Toric lenses are therefore better for those with astigmatism, as they’re able to fit different prescriptions across the lens,” he said.
Mr Gan recommended that I give ACUVUE® OASYS 1-Day for Astigmatism a try, which includes the Eyelid Stabilized™ Design and the HydraLuxe™ Technology. They helped to ensure that I’d have sharp vision and hydrated eyes throughout the day. And since these were daily lenses, I could easily toss them once the day was over, without having to meddle with any rigorous cleansing.
After the fitting process, Mr Liew placed an order for the lenses that were tailored to my eye shape and prescription.
I also learned about the MyACUVUE® app from Mr Liew. He showed me how I could earn reward points with every purchase of ACUVUE® products. These points could then be used to redeem lifestyle rewards and savings on my next ACUVUE® purchase.
Like any Singaporean who loves a good deal, I signed up for their free membership straight away and opted for toric lenses. They were slightly pricier than non-toric ones but I was able to score a $20 discount with membership vouchers.
When the lenses were ready, I put them on immediately upon picking them up, and tested them out for a month. It didn’t take long before I noticed the benefits of switching to these contact lenses. My double vision was no longer an issue, and my eyes weren’t as fatigued as before.
Most importantly, this meant that I wasn’t squinting anymore, and the headaches had taken their leave from my life. Learning from my visit to Capitol Optic, I really should have consulted a professional much sooner. They were able to pinpoint the problem with my vision after just one visit, and it would have saved me the time that I spent trying all those home remedies previously.
Correcting astigmatism with Acuvue’s Oasys 1-Day
The OASYS 1-Day for Astigmatism contact lenses are a fuss-free way of correcting astigmatism.
Whether you’re out playing sports or partying in the club, ACUVUE®’s Eyelid Stabilized™ Design means you don’t have to worry about your contact lenses shifting around and risking blurry vision. The lenses also protect your eyes from sun damage by shielding them from harmful UVA and UVB rays, thanks to its Class 1 UV protection.
We Singaporeans can’t live without air conditioning to beat the sweltering heat. But the cold air tends to dry out contact lenses, which can make eyes uncomfortable and itchy.
To combat this, ACUVUE®’s contact lenses are equipped with HydraLuxe™ Technology, which locks in moisture throughout the whole lens to keep your eyes hydrated.
If you’re new to ACUVUE® and would like to give their contact lenses a go, score $20 off your first purchase when you sign up for a membership through the MyACUVUE® app available on the App Store and Google Play Store.
Loyal ACUVUE® fans won’t be missing out on this deal either. Current members can enjoy the $20 savings when you purchase 8 boxes of ACUVUE®’s contact lenses at retailers when you show them your member code.
And if you’re not sure what degree to get or may be experiencing astigmatism yourself, be sure schedule an appointment at an ACUVUE® licensed optometrist for a check-up. The app can also point you to the nearest ACUVUE® authorised store for you to pick up your contact lenses.
This post was brought to you by Acuvue.
Photography by Brad Lee & Alvin Wong.
Cover image adapted from: Kimberley-Ann Tan