Contact lenses offer freedom from using glasses. The convenience of using them has almost made them a personal care item. Given the wide variety of contact lenses available today, choosing the right one becomes a bit confusing. Let’s understand the basics to aid you in your choice.
Soft contact lenses
Made of soft polymer-plastic, these lenses also contain some amount of water, which adds to the comfort. The more the water content, the longer they can be used.
If you suffer from an allergy, opt for daily disposable contact lenses. While some of them are for one time use, other varieties can be used frequently—for 7 days, 30 days or 90 days. Care of quarterly lenses is the same as traditional yearly soft contact lenses—these are to be removed every night, cleaned and placed in the lens case with the appropriate lens solution. They are to be thrown away after the prescribed period.
The biggest advantage of using disposable lenses is that they cut down your risk of infection, dry eye and allergies as you replace them often.
Traditional re-usable lenses
These lenses are to be changed on an annual basis. Some individuals even change them every quarter. However, the frequent replacement costs are often prohibitive. Most toric lenses [those used for blurred vision], bifocals or multi-focal lenses that help both near and far vision, fall under this category.
These are leave-in lenses, which can be worn continuously for up to 30 days. They are made of material that allows a higher percentage of oxygen to pass through to the cornea.
Rigid gas permeable [RGP] lenses
RGP lenses have fallen out of fashion because they take a long time to adjust. Besides, they cause a lot of discomfort as compared to soft lenses. Hence, they are prescribed only for specific corneal conditions.
Cosmetic coloured lenses
Used to alter the aesthetic appeal of your eyes, these come in a variety of shades. They often have no power and can be purchased over-the-counter without a prescription. When buying these, check their quality. These lenses are also available with special designs for fun. In case of scars or disfigurement of the eye, you can get specialised colour lenses. Most coloured lenses are soft lenses.
Buying your first lenses?
Get a separate eye examination from an ophthalmologist or a contact lens specialist because the prescriptions for your spectacles and contact lenses may not be the same. If you buy contact lenses on the basis of your prescription for spectacles, the lenses may not be correct for you. The eye examination should include computerised mapping [topography] to check size and curvature of the cornea and microscopic corneal assessment to rule out signs of allergies, infections, dry eye, inflammation or scarring related to past contact lens wear. This checks not only vision [visual acuity] but also how well your tears work in lubricating your eyes.
Discuss in detail about your contact lens requirements with your specialist who will then recommend suitable contact lenses for you. You might be fitted with lenses for a short trial period to help you get accustomed to wearing lenses.
Don’t order the lenses till you are confident that you will be able to wear and remove them on your own. Your specialist should give you time to practise doing this. Also, learn how to clean the contact lenses, and other dos and don’ts. Only when you are comfortable with the trial lenses and the instructions, should you order them.
Can kids use contact lenses?
That depends on how responsible the child and parents are. Even a 12-year-old can become a successful contact lens wearer. However, the powers in patients younger than 18 years of age change frequently. Therefore, regular visits to the specialist are important.
- Clean contact lenses properly as per the prescribed regimen, every day as dust or debris left on them may cause temporary irritation.
- Wash lenses thoroughly before using.
- Clean the lenses every day even if you are not using them. Clean them and put them back in the case.
- Replace lenses as often as prescribed.
- Keep your nails short to avoid injuring your eyes while wearing lenses.
- Wear your contact lens before wearing eye make-up to avoid smearing the make-up on the lenses while wearing them. Also, remove the lenses first and then the eye make-up.
- If you are new, gradually increase the length of time you wear them every day, starting with few hours a day.
- Don’t use lenses if you have dry eyes, as they further aggravate dryness.
- Don’t use lenses if you suffer from eye allergies or repeated infections.
- Avoid or limit the use of lenses when working for long hours on a computer as this may decrease the life span of comfortable lens wear.
- Don’t use home-made or non-branded contact lens solutions.
- Don’t use expired contact lenses or contact lens solutions.
- Don’t wear your lenses while sleeping.
- Don’t clean your lenses with water or saliva as this can cause infections.
- Avoid using coloured contactlenses every day as it may induce contact lens intolerance faster.
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