Contact lenses, when used properly, are very convenient and, with the latest advancements in technology, are extremely comfortable. Most of the time you will hardly know you are wearing them, though you will certainly notice how clear your vision is. Contact lenses are small lenses worn, on the surface of the eye to correct vision.
We are happy to discuss the options available for you. Many patients choose contact lenses for their primary vision correction and glasses for back-up or part-time wear.
Many patients prefer to wear glasses for the majority of their day, but have activities and events where they'd rather not wear their glasses and choose contact lenses for these times.
Conventional Soft Lenses
Soft lenses are comfortable and come in a variety of types, depending on the wearer's needs. Conventional soft lenses are designed to be worn during the day, cleaned, and stored at night. Usually once a week the lenses must receive an additionalcleaning using an enzymatic cleaner, which removes protein deposits. These lenses can last for upto a year if your prescription stays the same and you take good care of them. As technology improves, this older type of contact lens is being replaced by frequent replacement and disposable soft contact lens.
Disposable Soft Lenses
The pinnacle of soft contact lens technology is the one day disposable. This contact offers the safest, most compfortable, and most convenient way of wearing soft contact lenses currently available. Theyare also perfect for the occasional contact lens wearer who does not necessarily want to wear contact lenses every day.
Tinted Soft Lenses
Next, you have tinted soft lenses, available in conventional, disposable, or frequent replacement types. With tinted soft lenses, you can change your eye color or enhance your eye color. Even if you don't need corrective lenses, you can use "plano" tinted lenses to change your eye color.
Bifocal Soft Lenses
A modality of contact lens that has made great strides in design and usefulness is the greatly improved bifocal soft lenses. Most patients past their 40s who need bifocals can now enjoy the comfort and benefits of soft contact lenses.
Toric Soft Lenses
Toric lenses are used to optically correct astigmatism. Astigmatism is a vision condition where a non-uniformed shaped cornea affects the vision. In the past, the only options for those with astigmatism were either glasses or hard gas permeable contact lenses. But toric soft contact lenses, which are lenses with a special design, now offer a fantasticalternative. There are several types of toric lenses to choose fromwith a design to suit most visual requirements.
Extended Wear Soft Lenses
Extended wear lenses, the result of new technology in lens materials, transmit more oxygen to the cornea of the eye. Extended wear means that the FDA has approved the contact lens to be worn overnight. Some of these lens materials can be worn up to 30 days, day and night, without removal. Extended wear lenses can last one week, two weeks, or one month, depending upon the lens material and your doctor's recommendations. Remember, sleeping in any contact lens can increase your risks for eye health issues, so don't sleep in your contacts unless you have discussed the risk factors with your doctor.
Rigid Gas Permeable (RGP) Lenses
As the name implies, these lenses are hard and gas permeable. If you've been told you cannot wear soft lenses, RGP lenses are often a great alternative. RGP lenses are available in specialized designs to correct just about any vision disorder. RGP contacts are also very useful in managing eyes or prescriptions that are uncommon after such as after eye injuries, surgeries, Keratoconnus, etc.
There are a variety of solutions available from many different manufacturers. The important thing to remember is that not every solution is right for every type of contact lens. Some contact lenses require the use of multipurpose solutions, while others require separate solutions for the four steps in contact lens care: disinfecting, cleaning, rinsing, and enzyming. Use only the lens solutions that are recommended by your eye doctor. If you wish to change brands, check with our office first.
Oftentimes, your lenses will still feel good even when you are over-wearing them. Following are some basic Do's and Dont's of Contact Lens Care:
- DON'T wear your lenses overnight unless they are approved for extended wear and your doctor has discussed this with you. Overnight wear increases the risk of infection and other complications.
- DON'T wear your lenses longer than 12 hours a day until your first follow-up visit with your doctor, unless the doctor has specifically told you otherwise.
- DON'T continue use of contact lenses if your eyes become red, irritated, painful, or if your vision gets worse while wearing lenses. Immediately take out the lenses and clean them. Let your eyes get back to normal and if the problem persists, contact our office.
- DON'T exceed the wearing times suggested, even if your lenses still feel comfortable. Studies have proven that the eye needs time to adapt to contact lenses, and your wearing schedule is based on those studies.
- DO always remove your contact lenses at least one hour before going to bed to allow for proper oxygen nourishment to the cornea.
- DO wear your contact lenses for at least 3 hours before your follow-up appointment unless you are experiencing discomfort.
- DO schedule and keep follow-up appointments with your eye doctor.
Caring For Your Contacts
Deposits and infectious organisms such as bacteria, viruses--etc., can build up on the surface of all contact lenses. For this reason, it is very important to keep them clean and disinfected. The best way to care for your lenses is to follow the advice of the optometrist on how the take care of them!
There are Five steps in contact lens carefollow the care prescribed for your lenses:
- Cleaning removes dirt, mucous, and other debris that gets on the lenses during wear.
- Disinfecting kills bacteria (germs) on the lenses. Disinfecting is essential to prevent serious eye infections.
- Rinsing removes the other solutions from the lenses and prepares the lenses for wear.
- Enzyming uses enzyme drops or tablets to remove protein and other deposits that build up over time on the lenses.
- Replacing your lenses as directed. You can't keep a worn out lens comfortable and safe by trying to clean it beyond when it is recommended to be replaced.
The best way to properly care for your lenses is to develop a care routine, then stick to it. Remember to:
- Follow the directions outlined by your eye doctor. Oftentimes instructions are also listed on the packaging or the package insert for the contact lens solutions prescribed for you.
- Multi-purpose solutions can be used for more than one step in contact lens care. Read the label to see which functions the solutions can be used for.
- Many solutions can not be used together, and not all solutions are appropriate for all types of lenses. Only use solutions recommended by your eye doctor, and check with your eye doctor if you want to switch brands.
- When you remove your lenses, they must be cleaned, rinsed, and disinfected before they are worn again.
- Enzyming and cleaning are not a substitute for disinfecting.
- Lenses that have been stored for more than 24 hours should be cleaned, disinfected, and rinsed again prior to wear
- Make sure solution containers are kept closed tightly, stored upright, and kept in a clean, dry, cool place when you are not using them. Keep your case clean and replace it every 3 months to prevent bacterial growth. In addition, cleaning the case with warm soapy water once a week, rinsing, and allowing it to air dry helps prevent bacterial buildup.
- Don't touch container bottle tips to any surface to prevent them from becoming contaminated.
- Throw away expired solutions. (Look on the bottle for the expiration date!) A single contact lens wearer who wears contacts most days should be using about 8 bottles (12 fl oz) a year of multiple purpose solution to clean and store soft contacts. If you using substantially less than this, you are probably not adequately cleaning your contact lenses.
- Use new solution in your contact lenses case every day sufficient to fully submerge the contact lenses in its case.
- Discuss with your eye doctor the care for your lenses if you wear them while swimming in a pool, lake, or hot tub.
- Only use approved rewetting drops for lubricating or wetting your lenses. Never place the lenses in your mouth. (Yuck!)
- Do not use tap water to rinse soft contact lenses.
- Be careful with makeup, lotions, creams and sprays--consider putting on lenses before makeup and remove them before removing makeup. Also, water-based makeup is less likely to damage lenses than oil-based makeup.
Here's what you need to watch for: Redness, blurriness, light sensitivity. Remove your lenses if you are experiencing any of these 3 things. If severe symptoms are present, contact our office immediately. Otherwise, if your eyes have not returned to normal after 24 hours, please contact our office. If you have any change in vision, comfort, or irritation, immediately remove your lenses. If there is no improvement within a couple of hours, please contact our office.