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Astigmatism and viewing

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#1 Mike G.

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Posted 02 April 2015 - 08:56 AM

So, not exactly sure where to put this but I wanted to pass on my recent experiences regarding using scopes and binoculars with eyeglasses. Hopefully people from the various other forums will catch this and pass it around.

 

I have had severe astigmatism corrected with eyeglasses since I was 6 y.o. (now 59). This has always made using any optical instrument -  binoculars, telescopes, rifle scopes (I’m an avid shooter as well) a pain, more so since recent life changes have enabled me to devote more time to astronomy.  I never tried contacts as I was always told that they would not correct the astigmatism and I would still need to wear glasses if I went to contacts.  So I never did.

 

With my prescription, I find myself moving my head around at the EP trying to find the ‘sweet spot’ where the correction in my eyeglass lens matches the exit pupil focus point and the image is (relatively) clear.  Typically, there is always some distortion, even with anti-reflective coatings, high refractive index lenses and whatever else they have told me might help out.  Still, I never see stars as pinpoints unless below mag 5, planetary images have ghosting and are oblong which can be changed by moving my head so it is seeing through a different part of the eyeglass lens.  Basically, I stand at the EP and crane my head around trying to get the right correction between the eyeball and the EP. With Binos, this is really difficult. Image degradation due to my eyeglasses has always been disappointingly obvious.

 

At a social event with my wife, I met an Optometrist who said that the contact lens technology has improved and severe astigmatism is now correctable with contact lenses. He could give me a set of contacts with focus at infinity and my astigmatism corrected so I could use my scopes and binos without eyeglasses.  I would still need a pair of ‘readers’ for close up work (reading star charts, futzing with filters and such) but they could hang from my neck and be out of the way during viewing.  The exam, a trial pair, fitting, initial supplies and 6 daily use pairs would be $219 – less than my last EP purchase.

 

Last Monday I was fitted and came home with the contacts in, and of course, it was cloudy.  Not too bad though, some sucker holes so I put out the 20x80 Vixens and waited for dark. It was already late enough that waiting for either the 8” or 12” to cool would put me past 11 PM and it was a work night so the scopes stayed inside.

 

Let me tell you, using binos for the first time without glasses is an amazing experience!  Being able to push my face into the correct viewing position (blocking out all the peripheral light) made all the difference in the world. The contacts worked beautifully!  A minor focus adjustment and the images were clear and bright. There is still some spiking from bright stars and occasionally the contacts move, especially when viewing near zenith, causing some loss of resolution but a couple blinks with my head level and the contacts reposition themselves and I’m ready to go again. The most surprising thing is I actually see more stars now – I’m guessing that there is a difference in transmission between my eyeglasses and the contacts but I can definitely see more stars with the contacts than with my eyeglasses – maybe a full magnitude more stars!

 

It took till last night before I had enough time and semi-clear skies to get the 12” dob out and try the contacts with it (I am still adjusting to them and not using the contacts for 8 hours per day yet).  Another amazing experience!  More stars, clearer images, more comfortable viewing and those used TV EP’s I have been buying of late – NOW I know why people think they are so great!  Wow!  It’s like getting all new equipment!

 

To summarize, I would like to recommend to anyone with a similar vision problem to investigate contacts as a way to dramatically improve your experiences in Astronomy.  I know some people have such bad issues they have gone to EA Astronomy and for some of those people, this may put them back at the eyepiece letting those actual photons from those ancient stars impact their retinas instead of some phosphor-generated photon. The cost to me seemed minimal compared to what I have invested in Astronomy-related equipment and the improvement as dramatic as anything I can remember.

 

I hope others can read this and get the benefit that I have.

 

Clear Skies!


Edited by Mike G., 02 April 2015 - 08:57 AM.


#2 ecuador

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Posted 02 April 2015 - 09:34 AM

How much astigmatism do you have? I remember during my first contacts fitting almost 20 years ago, I had the option of correcting astigmatism using special contacts (I don't remember if they were rigid or soft toric back then), but since I did not require more than 1.0 correction (0.75 on one eye), I did not go for the extra cost. So if you have a strong case of astigmatism, you should have gone with contacts a while ago. Better late than never though!



#3 REC

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Posted 02 April 2015 - 09:42 AM

Hey Mike, let's great news for you, especially with that great equipment you have!

 

I have to wear glasses for distance, but don't for reading or computer. I have used contacts off and on for 30 years including bi-focal ones. Lately it's been a trade off getting a pair that does all and I don't want to comprise my infinity vision to have pin point stars. I have mild Astigmatism, but not to the point where I get spikes in the scope. I don't use glasses for the bino's and scopes.

 

At my last exam last year I discussed this with my eye doctor and I bough a set of contacts. They are good for 30 days and then you replace them. I thought I was getting another set of multi-focus and noticed that I still had to wear reading glasses. So now I can look up at the stars and go right to the eyepiece without taking glasses on and off, but now I can't read my hand controller...lol. When I asked about this, he told me that they where not bi-focal, but Toric lenses made to correct astigmatism! That must be what you have now?

 

So now if I'm just going out for a quick see, I don't use them, but on a good night when I'm going out for a long session, I put them in.

 

Bob



#4 Mike G.

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Posted 02 April 2015 - 10:05 AM

for those interested, my astig is -3.25 and -2.25.  another friend also told me that contact lens implants have also improved dramatically and you can get astigmatism correction and bi-focal implants now - his daughter recently had this done for both eyes for roughly $3k and now she sees perfectly with no contacts, reading glasses or anything.  of course you would want to wait till after 40 to do implants so your eyes don't change and have to have the surgery done over again.  but for now, I am so happy to be able to use my equipment without glasses.  still getting adjusted to sticking my fingers in my eyes though but definitely worth the effort!  I was so surprised I could see more stars than before!

 

the lenses are the silicone gel and good for 30 days of wear.  they stay in position by weighting the bottom of the lens which I guess is why they can move when I am using the binos near zenith (gravitational forces are distributed differently). 


Edited by Mike G., 02 April 2015 - 10:07 AM.


#5 vsteblina

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Posted 02 April 2015 - 11:12 AM

I cannot imagine observing without contacts.

 

You might ask your optomotrist for a trial pack of daily wear contacts with an additional one diopter correction.  Use those at a dark site for naked-eye viewing.  That make a huge difference in what you can see with just your eye.  The "extra" strength correction doesn't seem to help at the telescope.



#6 Mike G.

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Posted 02 April 2015 - 11:25 AM

I cannot imagine observing without contacts.

 

You might ask your optomotrist for a trial pack of daily wear contacts with an additional one diopter correction.  Use those at a dark site for naked-eye viewing.  That make a huge difference in what you can see with just your eye.  The "extra" strength correction doesn't seem to help at the telescope.

I'll do that - I have another appt. next Monday!  thanks for the tip!



#7 havasman

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Posted 02 April 2015 - 04:57 PM

I too have significant astigmatism and have worn contacts for decades. I've only observed once without them in, wearing glasses, and thought it really sucked. With good contacts in the 'stig is irrelevant. I've never really understood the problem. Contacts and their interface with the surface of my eye, however, have very occasionally given an image with a sort of transient swimming underwater irregularity across the FOV. Once or twice is all and I can live with that.



#8 pstarr

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Posted 02 April 2015 - 04:59 PM

Great to hear your getting a handle on this Mike. Hopefully we can get together in the near future.



#9 Mike G.

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Posted 03 April 2015 - 08:09 AM

thanks Paul, looking forward to it, especially now!



#10 spencerj

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Posted 03 April 2015 - 08:27 AM

 

I cannot imagine observing without contacts.

 

You might ask your optomotrist for a trial pack of daily wear contacts with an additional one diopter correction.  Use those at a dark site for naked-eye viewing.  That make a huge difference in what you can see with just your eye.  The "extra" strength correction doesn't seem to help at the telescope.

I'll do that - I have another appt. next Monday!  thanks for the tip!

 

 

I use the daily contacts to correct astigmatism for astronomy and sports.  My astigmatism is not bad, but they have made a huge difference in viewing the sky and using the telescope.  Stars are now pinpoints even at larger exit pupils.  And the daily contacts are much more convenient (though you don't usually get your exact prescription).  I put them in right before I go out and throw them away when I come in.  No cleaning or worrying about how long I have used them.



#11 REC

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Posted 03 April 2015 - 08:34 AM

 

 

I cannot imagine observing without contacts.

 

You might ask your optomotrist for a trial pack of daily wear contacts with an additional one diopter correction.  Use those at a dark site for naked-eye viewing.  That make a huge difference in what you can see with just your eye.  The "extra" strength correction doesn't seem to help at the telescope.

I'll do that - I have another appt. next Monday!  thanks for the tip!

 

 

I use the daily contacts to correct astigmatism for astronomy and sports.  My astigmatism is not bad, but they have made a huge difference in viewing the sky and using the telescope.  Stars are now pinpoints even at larger exit pupils.  And the daily contacts are much more convenient (though you don't usually get your exact prescription).  I put them in right before I go out and throw them away when I come in.  No cleaning or worrying about how long I have used them.

 

Hmm. I'll have to think about the daily ones. The ones I have now are good for 30 days and I don't use them that much for everyday use because I can't see close up. I generally used my graduated by-focal glasses for everyday use. The stars are sharp and no spikes when looking up in general and then I take them off at the eyepiece.

 

With your daily wear, can you see both near and far just like your glasses?



#12 airbleeder

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Posted 03 April 2015 - 03:12 PM

I wish I had read this before I ordered my glasses, but hopefully they will help with me seeing spikes. I pick them up next week.  Is it that difficult to view with glasses? I called my optometrist after I read the OP, but he said he thought I would be better suited for glasses. I'm going to talk to him again about contacts when I see him next week and definitely if the glasses don't work out. Ron



#13 Mike G.

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Posted 04 April 2015 - 08:10 AM

I wish I had read this before I ordered my glasses, but hopefully they will help with me seeing spikes. I pick them up next week.  Is it that difficult to view with glasses? I called my optometrist after I read the OP, but he said he thought I would be better suited for glasses. I'm going to talk to him again about contacts when I see him next week and definitely if the glasses don't work out. Ron

the difference will be determined by the type and amount of correction you have.  for me, my glasses were thick and bifocal.  so using binoculars was a real problem because of eye relief and getting the image from the EP to line up with the correct part of my eyeglass lens on both sides simultaneously. All my scope EP's have at minimum of 15mm, typically 18 to 20mm eye relief.  that far away, you are again moving your entire head to view the image in clarity, small bits at a time.  I could never see field stops until now with my contacts.  Binos are a completely new experience without glasses - I just push the eyecups right up to my eyes, close off all the peripheral light and fall into the image. I've had them for a week now and had 3 short opportunities to view with them.  wearing them daily takes some getting used to and I am not sure I will adapt to the hassle.  but they will definitely by used for observing and are now my most valuable optical accessory.



#14 airbleeder

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Posted 04 April 2015 - 05:36 PM

 

I wish I had read this before I ordered my glasses, but hopefully they will help with me seeing spikes. I pick them up next week.  Is it that difficult to view with glasses? I called my optometrist after I read the OP, but he said he thought I would be better suited for glasses. I'm going to talk to him again about contacts when I see him next week and definitely if the glasses don't work out. Ron

the difference will be determined by the type and amount of correction you have.  for me, my glasses were thick and bifocal.  so using binoculars was a real problem because of eye relief and getting the image from the EP to line up with the correct part of my eyeglass lens on both sides simultaneously. All my scope EP's have at minimum of 15mm, typically 18 to 20mm eye relief.  that far away, you are again moving your entire head to view the image in clarity, small bits at a time.  I could never see field stops until now with my contacts.  Binos are a completely new experience without glasses - I just push the eyecups right up to my eyes, close off all the peripheral light and fall into the image. I've had them for a week now and had 3 short opportunities to view with them.  wearing them daily takes some getting used to and I am not sure I will adapt to the hassle.  but they will definitely by used for observing and are now my most valuable optical accessory.

 

My ES 68* 16mm has the shortest eye relief at 11.9mm. I am hopeful that I will still be able to see the entire FOV through it. 



#15 WesC

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Posted 04 April 2015 - 07:14 PM

Well I have my annual eye exam this month and I'm going to ask them about this. Glasses do suck and I always view without them, but in wide fields I do see significant astigmatism and its quite annoying. I've considered using a dioptrix on my 31mm nagler, but then it wouldn't work for my wife... or anyone else at a star party. Contacts might just be the answer!



#16 Mike G.

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Posted 05 April 2015 - 06:26 AM

Well I have my annual eye exam this month and I'm going to ask them about this. Glasses do suck and I always view without them, but in wide fields I do see significant astigmatism and its quite annoying. I've considered using a dioptrix on my 31mm nagler, but then it wouldn't work for my wife... or anyone else at a star party. Contacts might just be the answer!

I've been out 3 times now with the contacts and whether I ever get to the point where I wear them everyday or not, I will always use them observing.  I considered the Dioptrix as well but I swap EP's in and out like crazy during the night and I have enough things to worry about changing filters and EP's in the dark, I don't need to add to the mix. I still get spikes on bright stars but losing the peripheral light, being able to actually see the field stops and seeing more stars - wow, an amazing improvement.  do it - you won't regret it. expect a bit of difficulty at first however as you have to train your brain not to close your eyes when you stick your fingers in them; takes practice!



#17 WesC

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Posted 06 April 2015 - 01:30 PM

Hehehe, I've worn contacts before, they just don't work very well for me at work so I stopped. :waytogo:

 

My astigmatism isn't that extreme, just 1.50 in my right eye and less than .25 in my left eye, but its really the low power wide fields and especially binoculars that are affected. Anything with a big exit pupil. I actually did try the multifocal contacts to try and eliminate glasses altogether, but they just aren't sharp.



#18 spencerj

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Posted 10 April 2015 - 01:31 PM

 

 

 

I cannot imagine observing without contacts.

 

You might ask your optomotrist for a trial pack of daily wear contacts with an additional one diopter correction.  Use those at a dark site for naked-eye viewing.  That make a huge difference in what you can see with just your eye.  The "extra" strength correction doesn't seem to help at the telescope.

I'll do that - I have another appt. next Monday!  thanks for the tip!

 

 

I use the daily contacts to correct astigmatism for astronomy and sports.  My astigmatism is not bad, but they have made a huge difference in viewing the sky and using the telescope.  Stars are now pinpoints even at larger exit pupils.  And the daily contacts are much more convenient (though you don't usually get your exact prescription).  I put them in right before I go out and throw them away when I come in.  No cleaning or worrying about how long I have used them.

 

Hmm. I'll have to think about the daily ones. The ones I have now are good for 30 days and I don't use them that much for everyday use because I can't see close up. I generally used my graduated by-focal glasses for everyday use. The stars are sharp and no spikes when looking up in general and then I take them off at the eyepiece.

 

With your daily wear, can you see both near and far just like your glasses?

 

 

My contacts have a slight correction for distance, I wear them mostly for astigmatism.  I see fine up close, but if i didn't, I would use glasses for that.  Daily contacts are the way to go if you use them infrequently.  The convenience cannot be overstated.

 

For others on this thread, you don't have to wear contacts every day for them to benefit you for astronomy.  It is not an either/or situation.  There is no way I could wear contacts everyday, they bother me and feel unnatural after so many hours.  I just put them in right before I go out and don't think about them until I throw them away at the end of the night.  I personally find about 8 hours to be the maximum that I am comfortable wearing them, but others might not have an issue.  My wife wears contacts 16+ hours a day every day.  She complains about the limited time she wears glasses.  



#19 Jon_Doh

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Posted 10 April 2015 - 01:37 PM

Hey Mike, let's great news for you, especially with that great equipment you have!

 

I have to wear glasses for distance, but don't for reading or computer. I have used contacts off and on for 30 years including bi-focal ones. Lately it's been a trade off getting a pair that does all and I don't want to comprise my infinity vision to have pin point stars. I have mild Astigmatism, but not to the point where I get spikes in the scope. I don't use glasses for the bino's and scopes.

 

At my last exam last year I discussed this with my eye doctor and I bough a set of contacts. They are good for 30 days and then you replace them. I thought I was getting another set of multi-focus and noticed that I still had to wear reading glasses. So now I can look up at the stars and go right to the eyepiece without taking glasses on and off, but now I can't read my hand controller...lol. When I asked about this, he told me that they where not bi-focal, but Toric lenses made to correct astigmatism! That must be what you have now?

 

So now if I'm just going out for a quick see, I don't use them, but on a good night when I'm going out for a long session, I put them in.

 

Bob

Jason ask for a trial pair of Air Optix Multifocals.  You'll be able to see near and far with them.



#20 Starman81

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Posted 10 April 2015 - 03:57 PM

I too have significant astigmatism and have worn contacts for decades. I've only observed once without them in, wearing glasses, and thought it really sucked. With good contacts in the 'stig is irrelevant. I've never really understood the problem. Contacts and their interface with the surface of my eye, however, have very occasionally given an image with a sort of transient swimming underwater irregularity across the FOV. Once or twice is all and I can live with that.

 

When I wear contacts even for a few hours (~4), I have 2-3 brief periods where everything is crystal clear. I'm talking about regular daily stuff, not observing at night. 2-3 brief periods of clarity only? I can't live with that. The one time I used them for observing it was windy causing my eyes to water  and it was just a terrible experience. Nonetheless, every 4 years or so, I will get another contact lens exam and fitting, hoping that the technology to produce comfortable toric lenses for my prescription has come and every 4 years I am disappointed. Oh well! 



#21 vsteblina

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Posted 10 April 2015 - 06:59 PM

Dry in Detroit??

 

There are issues with contacts under windy and dry conditions.  Do you guys have humidity below 50% back east??

 

Here in the summer our humidity reaches under 10% in summer.  At that point, my contacts usually glue themselves to my eyeball!!  

 

The trick is to use plenty of saline to keep your eyes and contacts hydrated.  Drink plenty of water.  The worst is long distance plane trips where the humidity is really low.  IF you have toric lenses they need to freely move so the correction astigmatism is correct.  

 

Drink plenty of water.  Pour saline into your eyes.



#22 Starman81

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Posted 10 April 2015 - 11:44 PM

Dry in Detroit??

 

There are issues with contacts under windy and dry conditions.  Do you guys have humidity below 50% back east??

 

Here in the summer our humidity reaches under 10% in summer.  At that point, my contacts usually glue themselves to my eyeball!!  

 

The trick is to use plenty of saline to keep your eyes and contacts hydrated.  Drink plenty of water.  The worst is long distance plane trips where the humidity is really low.  IF you have toric lenses they need to freely move so the correction astigmatism is correct.  

 

Drink plenty of water.  Pour saline into your eyes.

 

Yeah it's never too dry in these parts, humidity always above 50% if you put stock into what the ClearSky Clock reports. But you mention one other pertinent fact that I left out:

 

'IF you have toric lenses they need to freely move so the correction astigmatism is correct.'

 

That's the big bummer about astigmatism correcting toric lenses, one blink and the orientation can get messed up. And if it's not one eye, then it could be the other... Okay, I'll end my rant now.



#23 GeneT

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Posted 13 April 2015 - 09:34 PM

Great story! I am glad contacts work for you. One not of caution--be careful getting the contact too close to the eye lens of your eyepiece. Years ago when I wore them, I got the contact too close to the eye lens and blinked, and the contact went flying off like a frisbee--never to be seen or found again.



#24 Mike G.

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Posted 14 April 2015 - 05:01 AM

It's true the toric lenses float and come out of alignment creating the need to blink more often but I'll take that over glasses any day.

#25 LauraMS

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Posted 16 April 2015 - 04:13 AM

For many years I have worn glasses because of myopia and astigmatism but never liked observing with them. A few years ago I moved to toric lenses in everyday live and observing. The process of inserting them was not an easy one for me, but after some time it became everydays practice. And the best of it: Observing became much easier: almost pinpoint stars in the eyepiece! Not perfectly pinpoint because of some remaining uncorrected astigmatism, but better than ever before. And of course occasionally I observe some floating of the lenses after blinking, but another blink or two and everything is fine again.

 

Only the extremely dry air in airplanes  caused some problems in case of extended overnight flights (>20h), e.g. Europe to Australia or Europe to Hawaii. Just drinking more is not always sufficient. Sometimes I remove the lenses in such situations.

 

Would never want to go back to glasses again, for everyday live as well as for observing.




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