Why wear Contact Lenses (CLs) instead of Spectacles?
Contact Lenses offer different people different things. Some people wear CLs for cosmetic purposes, while others wear CLs as they give them the freedom to pursue sports like rugby and football or other outdoor activities. In some professions spectacles can be a hindrance and contact lenses can overcome this. In certain instances CLs can give better vision than specs.
Who is suitable for Contact Lenses?
As technology advances newer sophisticated materials are expanding the choice of lenses and the type of people who are suitable for contact lens wear. To find out if there is a type of contact lens suitable for you, please ask your optician.
What are contact lenses?
Contact lenses are small but powerful lenses that rest on the cornea of the eye and correct any refractive error the wearer my have. There are two main types of CLs:
- Hard: Rigid Gas Permeable
- Soft: Hydrogels & Silicon Hydrogels
What are Rigid Gas Permeable (RGP) Lenses?
They are hard lenses partially made from silicon. Unlike old designs of hard lenses RGPs allow oxygen to travel through the lens allowing the eye to ‘breathe.’ Traditionally they have provided better vision, fewer complications and a longer lifetime when compared to soft lenses.
However, they do not provide the initial comfort of a soft lens and wearing times have to be gradually increased until you are wearing them most of the time.
What are Soft Hydrogel Lenses?
These are lenses made from ‘HEMA’ or similar plastics which hold water within the lens substance. The amount of water can make up to 90% of the lens and this gives the lens its comfort when on the eye. Soft hydrogels can either be:
- daily disposable (after wearing the lens for a day it is thrown away).
- monthly disposable (after wearing the lens it is cleaned and stored in solution but after either two, three or four weeks the lens is again thrown away).
What are Silicone Hydrogel Lenses?
Hydrogels made with silicon allow greater transmission of oxygen through the lens. This means that the eye will look and feel fresher at the end of the day when compared to normal hydrogels and there are fewer complications with silicone hydrogels. If you have ever been told to stop wearing CLs due to complications caused by lack of oxygen, these lenses could give you another option.
I have astigmatism? Can I still wear CLs?
Astigmatism is when the eye focuses light in two different planes, instead of focusing light to a sharp point. This often happens when the front of the eye, the cornea, is not spherical (like a football) but is shaped elliptically (like a rugby ball). Astigmatic blur will not be corrected by a simple spherical design of soft CL. It needs a more complicated toric CL that will correct both meridians of blur.
The rays of light in all meridians are focused at the same point.
Rays of light 90 degrees to each other are focused at two different points.
I need spectacles for reading. Can I still wear CLs?
People aged 40 and over start to lose the ability to focus at near, a term named presbyopia and when this happens they normally need bifocals, varifocals or separate reading specs. People often think they have to wear specs to correct this but both soft and hard lenses can correct for presbyopia. So if you are having problems reading, ask your optician about them. You don’t have to be a current wearer of contact lenses to try these.
Guidance on wearing Contact Lenses
- Clean your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water and then dry your hands of all water.
- Trim your nails regularly
- Keep your lens case clean and replace it regularly – a dirty case can harbour bacteria
- Return for regular aftercares
- Remember that we are only a phone call away if you have any questions about your contact lenses or eyes
- Arrange replacement scheme so you always have enough lenses & if you wear hard lenses that you have insurance
- Make sure you have an up to date pair of spectacles
- Remember lenses can’t be lost behind the eye
- Use the solutions and care regime that your practitioner advised and follow the guidelines laid out by the manufacturer.
- Check with your practitioner before changing your solutions or care regime.
- Remember contact lenses must be cleaned and disinfected between every use
- Remember rubbing and rinsing your lenses helps remove bacteria and lens deposits
- Keep an up to date prescription in your wallet
- Wear your Lenses to every appointment (unless specified otherwise, and bring your spectacles and current contact lens case.
- Use eye drops or medications with contact lenses without speaking to your practitioner first
- Wear your lenses if you feel unwell or rundown. You could spread a cold or other infection to your eye. If you have an eye infection, see your practitioner before you start wearing the lenses again.
- Use the same case and solutions after having an eye infection
- Wear contact lenses if you cannot dedicate the time or money to use them properly.
- Over wear the lenses
- Smoke and wear contact lenses
- Sleep in Lenses unless approval has been given by your practitioner
- Swim in lenses without goggles and if contaminated with pool/sea water do not continue to wear them.
- Lick a lens or finger before putting a lens as your saliva can harbour bacteria
- Use tap water or other unsterile substances with your contact lenses
- Use homemade saline
- Wear lenses longer than the advised manufacturer’s wearing scheme.
- Leave lenses out of solution
- Use solutions/care products after their expiration date.
If you decide not to follow the above advice you are significantly increasing the risk of eye infections which can in certain circumstances lead to a severe drop in vision and you may have to cease contact lens wear permanently.
If in doubt take them out and seek the advice of your Contact lens practitioner.
I like the sound of CLs. What happens now?
Everyone who wants CLs needs to have a Fitting Assessment and this is charged as a separate fee for new CL wearers. This covers the professional time measuring the parameters of the eye and the time taken to teach insertion, removal and general handling of the lenses. If it is found that you are not suitable for CLs an Assessment Fee will still need to be paid.
Once you and the Optician are confident in your handling you will be given a trial pair of lenses to try for two weeks. You will then be asked to come back in wearing the lenses (ideally for about four hours) and to bring your spectacles to the appointment. The Optician will test the fit of the CLs and the vision with the lenses in. He will also check that the health of the eye is not affected by the lenses. The Optician may have to alter the prescription based on his finding and ask you to return after trying some different lenses. If everything is ok and both you and the Optician are happy with the CLs, depending on your type of wearing scheme, you can take your lenses and solutions home. We will then ask you to return for regular aftercares to make sure that no problems arise. These are normally every six months and will coincide with picking up your next six months supply.