What You Need To Know About Contact Lenses
Contact lenses are an excellent choice for almost anyone who requires vision correction but does not wish to wear glasses or undergo LASIK surgery. Before you visit your eye doctor, here are some things you should know about contact lenses (and you are interested in wearing contact lenses).
Contact Lens Materials
The first decision to make when considering contact lenses is which lens material will best meet your needs. Contact lenses are classified into five types based on the lens material.
- Soft lenses are made of hydrogel, a gel-like, water-containing plastic. These lenses are extremely thin and flexible, allowing them to conform to the front surface of the eye.
- Silicone hydrogel lenses are made of a sophisticated soft contact lens material that allows more oxygen to pass through the lens and reach the front surface of the eye. The most common type of contact lens is silicone hydrogel contact lenses.
- Lenses that are gas permeable. These rigid contact lenses, also known as GP or RGP lenses, hold their shape over the eye and can correct astigmatism and other refractive errors. Breathable contact lenses are typically smaller in diameter than soft lenses and are made of a material that is highly oxygen-permeable. It usually takes some time for your eyes to adjust to the GP lenses when you first start wearing them; however, after this initial adjustment period, most people find that GP lenses are just as comfortable as soft lenses.
- A hard, gas-permeable central area is surrounded by a "skirt" of hydrogel or silicone hydrogel material in hybrid contact lenses. They are intended to provide wearing comfort comparable to soft or silicone hydrogel lenses, while also providing the crystal clear optics of GP lenses.
- PMMA lenses resemble GP lenses in appearance but are made of an oxygen-impermeable plastic material. PMMA lenses were popular a few years ago, but have since been largely replaced by oxygen permeable lenses.
Contact Lens Wearing Time
There are two types of contact lenses, depending on the recommended wearing time.
- Daily disposable contact lenses - These must be removed each night before going to bed.
- Extended wear contact lenses - these can be worn overnight (for a limited number of days).
"Continuous wear" is a term that is sometimes used to describe extended wear lenses that are worn 24 hours a day for 30 consecutive days.
When to replace your contact lenses
Even with proper care, contact lenses (particularly soft contact lenses) should be changed on a regular basis to avoid the accumulation of lens deposits and contamination, which can increase the risk of eye infections.
The following are the general categories of soft lenses based on how frequently they should be discarded:
- Daily disposable lenses - discarded after one day of wear
- Disposable lenses - discarded every two weeks or sooner
- Frequent replacement lenses - discarded monthly or quarterly
- Conventional (reusable) lenses - discard every six months or more
Breathable contact lenses are less susceptible to lens deposits and do not need to be replaced as frequently as soft lenses. GP lenses typically last a year or more before needing to be replaced.
Designs Of Contact Lens
Depending on their intended use, soft contact lenses (both hydrogel and silicone hydrogel lenses) come in a variety of designs.
- Spherical contact lenses have the same lens power throughout the optical portion of the lens to correct myopia or hyperopia (hyperopia).
- Astigmatic soft contact lenses correct astigmatism as well as nearsightedness and farsightedness by varying the power of the lens in different meridians.
- To correct presbyopia as well as nearsightedness or farsightedness, multifocal contact lenses (including bifocal contact lenses) contain different near- and far-sighted power zones. Astigmatism can be corrected by some multifocal lenses.
- Cosmetic contact lenses are colored contact lenses that are used to change or enhance the color of the eyes. Cosmetic lenses include contact lenses used for Halloween, theater, and other special effects. Even if you do not have a refractive error that requires correction, you will require a prescription for contact lenses.
All of these lenses can be customized to fit difficult-to-fit eyes. Other lens designs are also available, such as those designed for use in specific situations, such as keratitis correction lenses.
More Contact Lens Features
Astigmatism is treated with bifocal contacts. These are advanced soft contacts that correct both presbyopia and astigmatism, allowing you to go without glasses after the age of 40.
For dry eyes, use contacts. Are your contacts painfully dry? Soft contacts are specifically designed to alleviate the dry eye symptoms associated with contact lenses.
Colored contacts. Many of the lenses described above are also available in colors that can enhance the natural color of your eyes, such as making your green eyes greener. Other colored lenses, such as going from brown to blue, can completely change the color of your eyes.
Lenses for special effects. Special effects lenses, also known as dramatic lenses, novelty lenses, or costume lenses, take color to the next level by making you look like a cat, a vampire, or an alter ego of your choice.
Lenses for prosthetics. Colored contact lenses can also be worn for medical reasons. To conceal the disfigurement and match the appearance of the other, unaffected eye, opaque soft lenses can be custom designed for eyes disfigured by injury or disease.
Customized lenses. If traditional contact lenses aren't working for you, you might be a good candidate for custom contact lenses, which are made to fit your specific eye shape and visual needs.
UV-blocking lenses. Some soft contact lenses protect your eyes from ultraviolet rays from the sun, which can cause cataracts and other eye problems. Because contact lenses do not cover the entire eye, you should still wear UV-blocking sunglasses outside for the best sun protection.
Lenses for the sclera. Large-diameter gas-permeable lenses, also known as scleral lenses, are specifically designed to treat keratitis and other corneal irregularities, as well as presbyopia. Myopia control contact lenses Special contact lenses are being developed to help children slow or stop the progression of myopia.
Which Contact Lenses Are Right For You?
Many factors can influence which contact lenses are right for you.
- To begin, contact lenses must address the issue that motivates you to wear them. Your contact lenses must correct your nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism, or some combination of these vision issues.
- The lenses must be a good fit for your eyes. To accomplish this, lenses are available in tens of thousands of diameter and curvature combinations. Of course, not every lens manufacturer offers the size you require.
- You may have a specific need that drives your lens selection. If your eyes are dry, your eye doctor may recommend a specific type of contact lens.
- Consider your contact lens "wish list," such as color or overnight wear.
Consult your eye doctor to determine the best contact lens material and design for you.
Contact Lens Wear And Care
Cleaning, disinfecting, and storing your contact lenses is a simple process. Most people only need one multipurpose solution to clean, disinfect, and store their lenses safely. Individuals who are sensitive to preservatives in multipurpose solutions may require a preservative-free system, such as one containing hydrogen peroxide. A lens care system will be recommended by your eye doctor. Make sure to carefully follow the care instructions.You can, of course, avoid lens care entirely by wearing daily disposable contact lenses.
Contact Lens Problems
If you are experiencing discomfort or poor vision while wearing contact lenses, an adjustment or lens change may be necessary.There are more contact lens options available today than ever before, and they can provide comfort, good vision, and healthy eyes. Remove your lenses and consult your eye doctor immediately if your eyes or lenses are uncomfortable or your vision is poor.