Contact lenses have served as a breakthrough technology in the realm of eye care over the past century, making them mainstream enough to be worn by more than 24 million Americans. As time goes by, the standards and technologies of contact lenses continues to evolve, meaning that even if you shied away from contact lenses a few years ago, odds are something has changed enough to potentially change your mind. Let’s take a comprehensive look at how contact lenses function, and whether you should be wearing them.
Are all contact lenses designed in the same way?
That would be a resounding no. Just like with eyeglasses, contact lenses come in a variety of shapes and forms to meet your vision enhancing requirements. Often times, finding the correct contact lens for your vision can be a lot like trying on a pair of shoes; it takes a careful balance of trial and error to find the contacts that “fit” and fully meet your needs. Standard designs are as follows:
- Scleral lenses. These patient-catered lenses are specially made with an oxygen permeable polymer that allows the eye to “breathe” for those with corneal irregularities
- Spherical lenses. Spherical lenses are the standard contacts designed simply to treat nearsightedness and farsightedness with a round design built in mind for the average person or sufferer of astigmatism.
- Bifocal lenses. Sometimes referred to as “multifocal lenses,” these layered, multi-purpose lenses are made to treat a condition called presbyopia, a complex condition creating poor eyesight depending on the distance and angle of your gaze.
- Colored lenses. Contrary to popular belief, these lenses don’t just change the color of your eyesight, they can be combined with a prescription lens to enhance the natural color of your eyes or, as is common play in the entertainment world, change them completely.
Soft contact lenses or hard contact lenses?
Though soft lenses have quickly become the most commonly used type of contact lens, there are some who heavily debate which is better-suited for the eyes. Soft lenses come in three different forms: daily wear, extended wear and disposable wear. The latter two come with more obvious benefits, in that they come in temporary forms with their own unique advantages. Disposable lens wearers will never have to clean their lenses, while those that opt for an extended wear contact can enjoy near-perfect vision in silicone form for up to 30 days. Daily wear soft contact lenses, the preferred choice by the average patient, provide a clear, comfortable and wide-ranged visual field that closely resembles 20/20 vision.
By comparison, hard lenses prove better-suited for those suffering from more severe cases of astigmatism or irregular shape of the eye. (Those with astigmatism should also look into wearing toric contact lenses.) They also allow for more flexibility with the amount of time they can be worn without being clean, which is another great advantage for those seeking an alternative to their eyeglasses. Read more about hard contact lenses vs. soft contact lenses.
How do I care for my contact lenses?
Unless you are wearing daily disposable lenses, contact lenses require careful care and cleaning processes. Wearers should invest in a multi-purpose cleaning solution designed to clean mineral deposits in the lenses, clear smudges, kill bacteria and do some heavy-duty moisturizing. Take note that prior to inserting the lenses in your eyes, you should always wash your hands and should neverrinse your lenses with tap water. Also, be careful to avoid using makeshift contact solution unless absolutely necessary.
For further information on whether contact lenses are the best option for you, schedule an appointment with your eye doctor for an eye exam for contacts, which will include a detailed fitting for the lenses that work best for you. Further consultation can be found through the guidance of an optician.