Contact lenses are an excellent choice for nearly anyone who wants to avoid wearing glasses or changing the appearance of their eyes, whether for functional or optical reasons. When compared with spectacles, contact lenses typically provide better peripheral vision, and do not collect perspiration or moisture (from rain, snow, condensation etc.). This makes contact lenses preferable for sports and other outdoor activities. Contact lens wearers can also wear sunglasses, goggles, or other eye wear of their choice without having to fit them with prescription lenses or to worry about compatibility with glasses.
Types of contact lenses include soft, and hard contact lenses including hybrid and scleral, generally used to correct high astigmatism, conditions of irregular astigmatism such as keratoconus, or post corneal transplants.
10 THINGS YOU DID NOT KNOW ABOUT SOFT CONTACT LENSES
1. WEARING TIME
- Daily wear — must be removed nightly
- Extended wear — can be worn for a maximum of 30 consecutive days, the limit wearing time approved by the FDA.
- "Continuous wear" is a term that is sometimes used by some brands with FDA approval to describe overnight wearing of contact lens, usually for 7 consecutive days without removal.
Soft contact lenses (both standard hydrogel and silicone hydrogel lenses) are available in a variety of designs, depending on their intended purpose:
- Spherical contact lenses have the same lens power throughout the entire optical part of the lens to correct myopia (nearsightedness) or hyperopia (farsightedness).
- Toric soft contact lenses have different powers in different meridians of the lens to correct astigmatism as well as nearsightedness or farsightedness.
- Monovision is the use of single-vision lenses to focus an eye for distance vision (typically the dominant one) and the other for near work. The brain then learns to use this setup to see clearly at all distances.
- Multifocal contact lenses (including bifocal contacts) contain different power zones for near and far vision to correct presbyopia as well as nearsightedness or farsightedness. Some multifocal lenses can also correct astigmatism.
- Cosmetic contact lenses include color contacts designed to change or intensify eye color, and can be manufactured with correction if needed.
Decorative contact lenses can lead to serious eye problems.
Your eyes are very important, and very delicate. Make sure your contact lenses are medically safe and FDA approved.
Contacts are not fashion accessories or cosmetics. They are medical devices that require a prescription from an eye care professional.
Non-prescription costume contacts can cause cuts, open sores and potentially blinding infections in your eyes. In addition to suffering severe pain, you may need surgery (such as a corneal transplant). In some cases, you could go blind.
Want decorative contact lenses? Ask an eye care professional.
3. CONTACT LENS PARAMETERS
Soft contact lenses must fit your eye. To do that, lenses come in tens of thousands of combinations of diameter and curvature. Of course, not every lens brand comes in every "size." And that is why it is preferable NOT to buy your contact lenses online. Your optometrist is skilled in evaluating your eye's physiology, and your eyesight, to determine which lens best satisfies the two criteria above. If you experience discomfort or poor vision when wearing contact lenses, chances are that an adjustment or change of lens can help.
4. WEAR AND CARE
Caring for your contact lenses — cleaning, disinfecting and storing them — is much easier than it used to be. Today, most people can use "multipurpose" solutions — meaning that one product both cleans and disinfects, and is used for storage.
- Wash your contact lenses with the appropriate solution; never use saliva or tap water to rewet the lens (risk of infection). Rub it and rinse it carefully in the palm of your hand, and remember to clean your contact lens holder every day.
Of course, you can avoid lens care altogether by wearing daily disposable contact lenses.
5. CONTACT LENS COMPLICATIONS
Many complications arise when contact lenses are worn not as prescribed (improper wear schedule or lens replacement). Sleeping in lenses not designed or approved for extended wear is a common cause of complications. Many people go too long before replacing their contacts, wearing lenses designed for 1, 14, or 30 days of wear for multiple months or years. While this does save on the cost of lenses, it risks permanent damage to the eye and even loss of sight.
6. CONTACT LENSES AND DRYNESS
The way contact lenses interact with the natural tear layer is a major factor in determining lens comfort and visual clarity. People suffering from dry eyes are particularly vulnerable to discomfort and episodes of brief blurry vision. Proper lens selection can minimize these effects.
- Do not wear your contact lenses while traveling to prevent dryness.
If you feel your eyes are dry, or if you are in a dusty area you can use artificial tears.
When wearing your lens, always check if it is on the good side; it should have the shape of a bowl or a 'U' when you hold it on the top of your index
- Always wear your contact lens before putting your make up, and remove it before removing your make up, to prevent any damage to the contact lens.
8. FOREIGN BODY SENSATION
If you experience foreign body sensation or a sand sensation, make sure your contact lenses are clean, are on the right side, and are not scratched.
- If the pain or redness persists, remove your contact lens. Do not hesitate to contact your optometrist or your ophthalmologist.
9. CONTACT LENS INSERTION
Wash your hands with soap and water; make sure you have a clean surface/sink with the drain plug closed. A table mirror may be helpful in the beginning to help you orient the insertion and removal process. Take one contact lens out of the sealed package or from your contact lens case.
- Visually examine your contact lens for tears, rips, or notches
- Make sure your contact lens is right side out (image 1). If your contact lens is inside out it will not feel right when you put it in your eye
- Place the contact lens on your dry index finger of your dominant hand. Always dry your index finger because the contact lens will stick to wet surfaces
- Place a drop of multipurpose solution into the center of the contact. This will help the contact attract to your moist eye
- Use your middle finger of the hand holding the contact lens to pull your lower lid down
- Use the middle finger of the other hand to pull the top eyelid up (image 2)
- Look straight ahead and place the contact straight on the front of the eye (image 3)
- Close your eye and move your eyes around to make sure the contact is centered
- Alternative method- Instead of looking straight ahead, look up and place the contact lens on the white part of the eye
- Gently close your eye and move your eyes in all directions to center the contact lens.
10. CONTACT LENS REMOVAL
Wash your hands with soap and water; make sure you have a clean surface/sink with the drain plug closed, and ready your clean contact lens case if necessary.
- Hold the top eyelid with the middle finger of your non-dominant hand
- Hold the bottom eyelid with the middle finger of your dominant hand
- Place your index finger of your dominate hand directly on the center of the eye/contact and gently slide the contact onto the sclera- the white part of the eye (image 4)
- Either pull the contact down and look up then gently pinch off the contact with your thumb and index finger, or pull the contact to the outside and look in the opposite direction then gently pinch off the contact with your thumb and index finger (image 5)
- You should not pinch off contact if it is centered on the eye (on the cornea) as this can cause an abrasion.