What are contact lenses?Recent advances in contact lens technology have been incredible. People who could not wear contact lenses are experiencing more comfort and better vision with the new generations of contact lenses. Contact lenses are clear discs placed on the eye to correct various vision problems.
The advantages of contact lenses are that they can replace glasses, possibly give you better vision and improve peripheral vision. Contact lenses can correct myopia, astigmatism, hyperopia and presbyopia.
They can help give clear vision after cataract operations, cornea transplants and various problems with the cornea – keratoconus, for example.
Types of contact lensesContact lenses come in many different sizes, shapes and materials. Basically, there are two types of lenses: the hard, or gas permeable, lens and the soft lens. You can also get bifocal contact lenses, toric lenses, which correct astigmatism, and colored lense which change the color of your eyes.
Soft LensesSoft lenses are soft, flexible and comfortable contact lenses. Recent advances in soft contact lens design has increased the water content and oxygen permeablity. These are considerably more comfortable and healthier. These lenses are easy to adapt to and can be worn for long periods of time, usually with very little discomfort.
There are contacts you can wear for a day, weekly, monthly or overnight. Daily contact lenses are worn for only a day. This eliminates the need for cleaning the lenses and the use of chemicals, which can irritate your eyes. The new disposable soft lenses can be worn between two weeks and a month. When you are through wearing them, you throw them away and put a new lenses. Extended wear lenses can be left in the eye overnight.
Rigid Gas Permeable LensesThe hard, or gas permeable, lenses are made of a material that allows the cornea to "breath." They do not need to be exchanged as often as soft lenses, but they are more difficult to get used to wearing. These lenses provide sharper, clearer vision than soft lenses for some patients.
Bifocal ContactsAfter 40 years of age, most of us begin to require "bifocals" to see clearly at near. Now with the advent of the soft bifocal contact lenses, we have an exciting new option. This new contact lens has eliminated many of the problems the old bifocal contact lenses presented. Patient satisfaction is high with this lens.
There is also monovision which entails being fit with one contact lens for near vision and one contact lens for distance vision. Confusing as this may sound, it is successful in about 50 percent of the people.
Toric ContactsToric contact lenses are for those people who have astigmatism. Over the past few years there has been some very exciting changes in the lens designs and materials. This is making it possible to obtain great vision and comfort.
Which lens is best?No one lens is right for all people, thus comes the art of contact lens fitting. Contact lens fitting starts with a comprehensive eye exam. After assessing the various factors, including the health of your eye, the shape of your cornea, the power of your prescription, the condition of your eyelids and your tear film quality, the decision of which lens would be most appropriate for you can be made.
After attempting one type of lens, it is frequently necessary to change and try a different type of lens to give you maximum comfort and vision. This is where the art of contact lens fitting comes into play - knowing which lens will work best and to know when to change to another type of lens. After being "fitted," the next decision will be what cleaning procedure and wearing schedule will be best for you to follow.
Again, this needs to be adapted and tailored to your individual needs. This will all be monitored on routine follow-up examinations and altered and changed as needed. The lenses need to be handled carefully when applying, removing and cleaning.
Are there risks?Putting a foreign material on the surface of the eye can, of course, present additional risks. Close follow-up can eliminate many of the more serious problems.
Who should wear contact lenses?Contact lenses are not for everyone. Those who have a history of repeated eye infections, allergic reactions, dry eyes or work in dry or dusty areas are likely to have more problems. Over 10 million people in the United States alone are successfully wearing contact lenses. With newer types of contact lenses and advanced technology, this number increases every year.
Before embarking on the road for a contact lens fitting, you should be aware of the cost of services, need for follow-up care, what insurance policies are available to keep the cost down and what accessories you will need.