Comparing Custom Soft Toric Lenses to Off-the-Shelf Toric Lenses

Corneal astigmatism, a condition that many patients present with, is caused by one principal meridian of the cornea being considerably steeper or flatter than the other principal meridian of the cornea.  Fitting a patient with a soft toric contact lens for astigmatism is routine for eye-care practitioners and many times practitioners can choose a soft toric contact lens straight from their diagnostic fitting set that will provide acceptable vision and comfort for many astigmatic patients.  But what happens when the patient’s refractive cylinder exceeds -2.25 diopters, which is the usual limit for off-the-shelf soft toric contact lenses?  Let’s consider another scenario.  What is a practitioner to do when a patient presents with comfort, fit, or visual acuity issues with a standard commodity off-the-shelf soft toric contact lens caused by an odd sized or odd-shaped cornea?  It is in these exact scenarios that a custom soft toric contact lens may prove to be a great alternative!

The base curve and diameter of off-the-shelf toric contact lenses are manufactured for the mass population, those patients who fall within the center portion of the bell curve in regards to the corneal anatomic features that assist in determining the fit of a contact lens.  The limited base curve and diameter offerings of off-the-shelf toric contact lenses can at times restrict practitioners when fitting patients who reside on the ends of the bell curve.  This restriction in base curve and diameter can lead to comfort and/or visual acuity compromise.  It is these patients who could potentially benefit the most from a custom soft toric contact lens such as SpecialEyes.

As we all know, off-the-shelf toric contact lenses are also limited in power offerings.  Patients that have high refractive errors that fall outside of the off-the-shelf range in regard to sphere and cylinder power are often given an alternative choice to wear ophthalmic glasses.  With large refractive errors, patients wearing ophthalmic glasses may find the glasses heavy, uncomfortable, or unattractive.  These patients may also benefit from a custom soft toric contact lens.

The beauty of a custom soft toric contact lens, such as SpecialEyes, is the ability to design the toric contact lens to the patient’s exact refractive error.  This includes precise sphere power and cylinder power in 0.10 diopter steps, as well as the exact axis in 1 degree increments, which is beneficial for the higher astigmatic patient. The broad range of customization of SpecialEyes custom soft toric contact lenses can aid in decreasing the chance of visual compromise when compared to fitting an off-the-shelf toric contact lens.  This vast parameter range allows practitioners the opportunity to provide his or her patients with optimal vision correction, not compromised vision correction, which can often be found when fitting a patient in an off-the-shelf toric contact lens.

Right now you may be thinking “Well, I would fit my high astigmatic patient in a GP contact lens”.  Yes, that is a viable option in many situations.  However, patients that have had comfort issues or have a known intolerance to GP lenses may find more success in a custom soft toric contact lens.  A prior GP intolerant patient will find that a custom soft toric contact lens provides optimal comfort due to the pliable nature of the material, coupled with precise visual acuity made possible by the vast parameter availability.

Currently, in my opinion, technology in the optometric industry seems to be advancing and prescribing custom soft toric contact lenses is following that technology curve.  Consider the technology used in manufacturing ophthalmic lenses, the talk of “freeform” and “digital” lenses and the new tools and computerized equipment to manufacture lenses in power increments of 0.01 diopters.  Thanks to the advancement in technology, digital lenses are completely custom and made-to-order for our patients. Custom soft toric contact lenses are just the same — you specify exactly the needs of your specific patient and the custom soft toric contact lenses are made-to-order. This ensures that the patient receives not only a unique individualized contact lens made especially for his or her cornea, but also a fresh lens that has not been massed produced and placed on a shelf waiting for a home.

Joanna Chmiel, ABOC, NCLEC

Joanna Chmiel is an ABO and NCLE certified consultant at SpecialEyes.  She brings with her 8 years of experience in the optical and contact lens industry.

11 thoughts on “Comparing Custom Soft Toric Lenses to Off-the-Shelf Toric Lenses



    Thank you for this wonderful article! It has been a huge seed of hope for me as I’ve used high power glasses (astigmatism) for 31 years now, basically since I was 1 year old.
    I live in Malaysia and was wondering how I can have these made and shipped to my city or if there is a supplier I can go to here in Kuala Lumpur to have these made.

    I really would appreciate any help you can provide me. Other brands say that my cylinder is too high (off the shelf ones) and I won’t have a 20/20 vision with those.

    Thank you. Hope to hear from you soon. It would make my year! Here’s my prescription so you have a better idea:

    Right eye: +5.00 – 5.50 axis: 10 degrees
    Left eye +4.00 – 4.50 axis: 0 degrees

    Kind regards,
    Olivia Mercado

    1. Lindsay McCorkle Post author

      Hi Olivia, thank you for reaching out to us. I have sent you an email regarding your comment. I look forward to hearing from you.

  2. Juzer Laljiwala

    Great Article and has lit some hopes for me. I am wearing high number glasses since about 8 years and before that i was using regular contact lenses untill suddenly my number began to increase.

    I am from Pune, India and I cannot get contact lenses of my number here in Pune or anywhere else in India as my number is high.

    I would appreciate if you could let me have details on to procure them and if it can be made available to me here in my city.

    My no is :

    Left Power SPH: -1.50
    Left Cylinder: -4.50
    Left Axis – 125

    Right Power SPH: -1.50
    Right Cylinder : – 4.50
    Right Axis – 50

    Hope to hear from you soon.



    1. Lindsay McCorkle Post author

      Hi Juzer,

      Thank you for reaching out to SpecialEyes! I have sent you an email regarding your comment. Please let me know if I can be of further assistance.

      Thanks again!

  3. Rebecca Coelho

    My almost 7 year old has, in glasses, -32.25, -29.25. She has been in the -20s since 11 weeks old. We did contacts until she was almost 3, when she fought them to the point we couldn’t safely insert them anymore. She has now decided she is willing to try them again, hopefully teaching her to insert them herself. Not sure what contact options we will have for an active almost 7 year old. I don’t think she needs Toric though, since she only has a spherical power on her glasses prescription. I heard RGP lenses fall out easier than soft, but not sure that soft is an option.

    1. Lindsay McCorkle Post author

      Hi Rebecca,

      Thank you for reaching out to SpecialEyes! SpecialEyes’ Custom Soft Contact Lenses may be an option for your daughter; however, due to the custom nature of our lenses this should be determined by a licensed eye care practitioner. If you are interested, I would happy to find a practitioner in your area that currently prescribes SpecialEyes lenses. I hope this helps!

      Thank you again for your inquiry and have a wonderful day!

      Best regards,

  4. Jeanie Gaynord

    My son has a Hugh myopic vision, wearing -20 in both eyes, but needs higher. Never knew you could get them custom made for higher. How do I go about getting them made for him, online through you w prescription thru you or a doctor who orders f you?

  5. Dana Bowen

    I’m a high minus with astigmatism & presbyopia. Can you refer me to someone in the Ventura or Santa Barbara county areas who fits Tori’s multifocal soft lenses.

    1. Lindsay McCorkle Post author

      Hi Dana,
      Thanks for your message! Our team will be emailing you with a list of providers in the requested area.
      All my best,

  6. Shari

    Great article, I would love to have information on providers in my area who could help me try these contacts. There has to be something for me. Please help. I’ve been through 2 trials with coopervision with no luck.

    1. Lindsay McCorkle Post author

      Hi Shari,
      Thanks for your message! I will have our team email you providers in your area who fit SpecialEyes contact lenses.

      All my best,


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