Contact Lenses



Whether you already wear contact lenses or are considering them, this section serves as a primer. Facts and statistics about contact lens wearers, pointers for safe and successful use of contact lenses, and contact lenses and cosmetics are just a few of the topics covered here.


Getting started right with your contact lenses involves going to a doctor who provides full-service care. This includes a thorough eye examination, an evaluation of your suitability for contact lens wear, the lenses, necessary lens care kits, individual instructions for wear and care and unlimited follow-up visits over a specified time.


Recommendations for Contact Lens Wearers from the American Optometric Association


  1. Always wash your hands before handling contact lenses.
  2. Carefully and regularly clean contact lenses, as directed by your optometrist. Rub the contact lenses with fingers and rinse thoroughly before soaking lenses overnight in sufficient multi-purpose solution to completely cover the lens.

  3. Store lenses in the proper lens storage case and replace the case at a minimum of every three months. Clean the case after each use, and keep it open and dry between cleanings.

  4. Use only products recommended by your optometrist to clean and disinfect your lenses. Saline solution and rewetting drops are not designed to disinfect lenses.

  5. Only fresh solution should be used to clean and store contact lenses. Never re-use old solution. Contact lens solution must be changed according to the manufacturer's recommendations, even if the lenses are not used daily.

  6. Always follow the recommended contact lens replacement schedule prescribed by your optometrist.

  7. Remove contact lenses before swimming or entering a hot tub.

  8. See your optometrist for your regularly scheduled contact lens and eye examination.

Back to top



What You Need to Know About Contact Lens Hygiene & Compliance


Contact lenses are among the safest forms of vision correction when patients follow the proper care and wearing instructions provided by their eye doctor. However, when patients don’t use lenses as directed, the consequences may be dangerous. In fact, Americans could be damaging their eyes by not using proper hygiene in caring for their lenses.


Contact lenses and the solutions used with them are medical devices and are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, therefore, it’s extremely important that patients maintain regular appointments to ensure they are receiving clinical guidance from their eye doctor based on individual eye health needs.


According to the American Optometric Association, clean and safe handling of contact lenses is one of the most important measures Americans can take to protect their sight. Exercising optimal care and hygiene with contact lenses can keep the eyes healthy.


Recommendations for Contact Lens Wearers from the American Optometric Association
  1. Always wash your hands before handling contact lenses.

  2. Carefully and regularly clean contact lenses, as directed by your optometrist. Rub the contact lenses with fingers and rinse thoroughly before soaking lenses overnight in sufficient multi-purpose solution to completely cover the lens.

  3. Store lenses in the proper lens storage case and replace the case at a minimum of every three months. Clean the case after each use, and keep it open and dry between cleanings.

  4. Use only products recommended by your optometrist to clean and disinfect your lenses. Saline solution and rewetting drops are not designed to disinfect lenses.

  5. Only fresh solution should be used to clean and store contact lenses. Never re-use old solution. Contact lens solution must be changed according to the manufacturer's recommendations, even if the lenses are not used daily.

  6. Always follow the recommended contact lens replacement schedule prescribed by your optometrist.

  7. Remove contact lenses before swimming or entering a hot tub.

  8. See your optometrist for your regularly scheduled contact lens and eye examination.

Back to top



Facts and Stats


So you want to wear contact lenses. Well, you're not alone. Let’s take a quick look at who is wearing contact lenses today.

  • Over 30 million Americans wear contact lenses

  • Two-thirds of all contact lens wearers are female

  • Ten percent are age 18 or under

  • Fifteen percent are between the ages of 18-24

  • 50 percent are 25 to 44 years old

  • Most contact lens wearers are nearsighted

  • Eighty percent wear daily wear soft lenses

  • Over fifty percent wear 1 to 2-week disposable lenses

  • Fifteen percent wear extended wear soft lenses

  • More than 80 percent of contact lens wearers go to an optometrist for their eye care.

Back to top



Advantages and Disadvantages of Various Types of Contact Lenses


Lens Types Advantages Disadvantages
 
Rigid gas-permeable (RGP) Made of slightly flexible plastics that allow oxygen to pass through to the eyes. Excellent vision... short adaptation period... comfortable to wear... correct most vision problems... easy to put on and to care for... durable with a relatively long life... available in tints (for handling purposes) and bifocals. Require consistent wear to maintain adaptation... can slip off center of eye more easily than other types... debris can easily get under the lenses... requires office visits for follow-up care.
 
Daily-wear soft lenses Made of soft, flexible plastic that allows oxygen to pass through to the eyes. Very short adaptation period... more comfortable and more difficult to dislodge than RGP lenses... available in tints and bifocals... great for active lifestyles. Do not correct all vision problems... vision may not be as sharp as with RGP lenses... require regular office visits for follow-up care... lenses soil easily and must be replaced.
 
Extended-wear Available for overnight wear in soft or RGP lenses. Can usually be worn up to seven days without removal. Do not correct all vision problems... require regular office visits for follow-up care... increases risk of complication... requires regular monitoring and professional care.
 
Extended-wear disposable Soft lenses worn for an extended period of time, from one to six days and then discarded. Require little or no cleaning... minimal risk of eye infection if wearing instructions are followed... available in tints and bifocals... spare lenses available. Vision may not be as sharp as RGP lenses... do not correct all vision problems... handling may be more difficult.
 
Planned replacement Soft daily wear lenses that are replaced on a planned schedule, most often either every two weeks, monthly or quarterly. Require simplified cleaning and disinfection... good for eye health... available in most prescriptions. Vision may not be as sharp as RGP lenses... do not correct all vision problems... handling may be more difficult.

Reasons To Consider Contact Lenses
  • Contact lenses move with your eye, allow a natural field of view, have no frames to obstruct your vision and greatly reduce distortions.
  • They do not fog up, like glasses, nor do they get splattered by mud or rain.
  • Contact lenses do not get in the way of your activities.
  • Many people feel they look better in contact lenses.
  • Contact lenses, compared to eyeglasses, generally offer better sight.
Some Things To Remember About Contact Lenses
  • Contact lenses, when compared with glasses, require a longer initial examination and more follow-up visits to maintain eye health; and more time for lens care.
  • If you are going to wear your lenses successfully, you will have to clean and store them properly; adhere to lens wearing schedules; and make appointments for follow-up care.
  • If you are wearing disposable or planned replacement lenses, you will have to carefully follow the schedule for throwing away used lenses.

Back to top



Do's and Don'ts


Get started off right with your contact lenses by going to a doctor who provides full-service care. Full-service care may include the following items: a thorough eye examination, an evaluation of your suitability for contact lens wear, the lenses, necessary lens care kits, individual instructions for wear and care, and follow-up visits over a specified time. The initial visit and examination can take an hour or longer. Here is a list of other specific do's and don'ts to lead you to successful wear.


Do:
  • Always wash your hands before handling contact lenses.

  • Carefully and regularly clean contact lenses, as directed by your optometrist. If recommended, rub the contact lenses with fingers and rinse thoroughly before soaking lenses overnight in sufficient multi-purpose solution to completely cover the lens.
  • Store lenses in the proper lens storage case and replace the case at a minimum of every three months. Clean the case after each use, and keep it open and dry between cleanings.
  • Only fresh solution should be used to clean and store contact lenses. Never Re-use old solution. Contact lens solution must be changed according to the manufacturer's recommendations, even if the lenses are not used daily.
  • Always follow the recommended contact lens replacement schedule prescribed by your optometrist.

  • Remove contact lenses before swimming or entering a hot tub.

  • Avoid tap water to wash or store contact lenses or lens cases.

  • See your optometrist for your regularly scheduled contact lens and eye examination.

Don't:
  • Use cream soaps. They can leave a film on your hands that can transfer to the lenses.

  • Use homemade saline solutions. Improper use of homemade saline solutions has been linked with a potentially blinding condition among soft lens wearers.

  • Put contact lenses in your mouth or moisten them with saliva, which is full of bacteria and a potential source of infection.

  • Use tap water to wash or store contact lenses or lens cases.

  • Share lenses with others.

  • Use products not recommended by your optometrist to clean and disinfect your lenses. Saline solution and rewetting drops are not designed to disinfect lenses.

Back to top



Contact Lenses and Cosmetics


Here are some tips to help you wear your contacts and your cosmetics safely and comfortably together:

  • Put on soft contact lenses before applying makeup.
  • Put on rigid gas-permeable (RGP) lenses after makeup is applied.
  • Avoid lash-extending mascara, which has fibers that can irritate the eyes, and waterproof mascara, which cannot be easily removed with water and may stain soft contact lenses.
  • Remove lenses before removing makeup.
  • Choose an oil-free moisturizer.
  • Don’t use hand creams or lotions before handling contacts. They can leave a film on your lenses.
  • Use hairspray before putting on your contacts. If you use hairspray while you are wearing your contacts, close your eyes during spraying and for a few seconds afterwards.
  • Blink your eyes frequently while under a hair drier or blower to keep your eyes from getting too dry.
  • Keep false eyelash cement, nail polish and remover, perfume and cologne away from the lenses. They can damage the plastic.
  • Choose water-based, hypo-allergenic liquid foundations. Cream makeup may leave a film on your lenses.

Back to top



Monovision


Monovision is a treatment technique that is often prescribed for people age 40 and older who are affected by presbyopia. Presbyopia occurs when, as part of the natural aging process, the eye’s crystalline lens loses its ability to bring close objects into clear focus.


Monovision means wearing a contact lens for near vision on one eye and, if needed, a lens for distance vision on the other eye.


Most people who try monovision are able to adjust to it.


Alternative treatments for presbyopia include a combination of contact lenses and reading glasses, or your doctor may also prescribe bifocal contact lenses.


Back to top



Signs of Potential Problems


It is generally not difficult to wear contact lenses. Following your doctor’s advice and regular follow-up care will prevent most problems.


However, here is a list of some signs that things may not be going well. If you experience any of these, contact your optometrist as soon as possible.


  • Blurred or fuzzy vision, especially of sudden onset.
  • Red, irritated eyes.
  • Uncomfortable lenses.
  • Pain in and around the eyes.

Back to top



Cost of Contact Lenses


Every optometrist individually determines his or her fees for services. There are a number of factors that may go into determining the initial cost of contact lenses, and these may include the professional services necessary to provide the best lens selection and a good start toward safe, successful wear. If you are considering contacts, be aware that some of the services and materials that might be included in the initial cost are:

  • a thorough diagnostic examination;
  • a lens care kit;
  • lens wear and care training;
  • follow-up office visits over a specified period of time.

If you already wear lenses and need replacements, or if you want a spare pair, the total cost might include the actual cost of the lenses plus the fee the doctor might charge for his or her professional time. Again, every optometrist individually determines his or her fees, and there is no formula or standard fee for contacts or professional services.


It is certainly important to check out costs when considering contacts, but cost is just one factor in making your decision. All types of lenses are not the same. It is important for you to get the lenses that are healthiest for you and the professional services and follow-up care to help you wear your lenses successfully.


Back to top



Warning for Consumers: Popular Halloween Eye Wear Accessory Can Permanently Damage Eyes!


The American Optometric Association (AOA) is warning consumers about the risks of wearing decorative contact lenses sold without proper medical evaluation from a doctor of optometry and without a prescription. These non-corrective lenses are easily accessible to consumers and are especially popular around Halloween.


Decorative lenses, also referred to as plano lenses, are marketed and distributed directly to consumers through a variety of sources, including flea markets, the Internet, beauty salons and convenience stores. Consumers often find them at retail outlets where they are sold as fashion accessories.


“Buying contact lenses without a prescription can pose serious risk to your sight or eye health,” said Art Epstein, O.D., former chairman of the AOA Contact Lens and Cornea Section. “Decorative lenses, like their vision-correcting counterparts, require precise fitting and careful follow-up care. Consumers purchasing these lenses from untrained individuals may receive poorly fitted or “demo” lenses and little to no instruction in proper lens care and cleaning.”


People who buy and wear contact lenses without medical guidance and a valid prescription put themselves at risk for serious, even blinding eye infections. A proper medical evaluation, ensures that the patient is an appropriate candidate for contact lens wear, that the lenses are properly fitted and that the patient is able to safely care for their lenses.


“While consumer education is important, it is equally imperative to ensure that laws are in place so that only people who are trained in the proper fitting and appropriate use of contacts are able to provide them to patients,” said Dr. Epstein. “This is a serious public health issue, especially for adolescents and young adults,” he added.


“Consumers and retailers should understand that decorative lenses, like the contact lenses intended for correcting vision, present serious risks to eye health if they are distributed without the appropriate involvement of a qualified eye care professional,” added Dr. Epstein.


Other risks associated with use of decorative contact lenses include conjunctivitis, swelling, allergic reactions and corneal abrasion due to poor lens fit. Other problems may include reduced vision, glare, and other general eye and vision impairments.


Back to top