Are Contact Lenses Right for You?
Contact lenses are delicately crafted, very thin optical discs about the diameter of a shirt button. They are comfortably held in place by the eye’s own natural tears, which are always present between the lens and the eye. Most common vision conditions can be treated with contact lenses, and in the last few years, technological advances have produced many more options for treating each kind of problem.
The superior quality of today’s lenses, combined with professional fitting and aftercare, ensures your lenses will be prescribed for ultimate fit and comfort. Our office has many lens options to choose from in determining the best lens type to suit your vision needs and your lifestyle.
Choosing a Contact Lens
This can be very confusing because of the many different types and brands available. The difference between soft and gas permeable contacts is the actual make-up of the lens.
A soft lens is a pliable plastic, whereas a gas permeable lens is a more rigid plastic that has replaced the “hard” contact lens. The oxygen level is higher in the gas permeable lens, making it more comfortable to wear than “hard lenses.” In the past, your prescription determined your lens type. Today, your prescription still remains a factor; however, there are additional considerations, such as occupation, visual requirements, and personal preference. A common misconception regarding contact lens wear is that individuals with astigmatism must wear hard lenses. On the contrary, soft contact lenses are available to correct astigmatism.
Gas permeable lenses are a type of hard lens and disposable lenses are soft. The most common type of disposable lens is worn on a daily or overnight basis for two weeks and then thrown away. The convenience of disposable lenses is a popular feature. They come packaged in pairs of six so extra lenses are available in case of a loss or tear. In addition, clean lenses are worn every two weeks. Soft and hard contact lenses are a wonderful alternative to glasses, and are worn safely and comfortably by millions of people. Schedule an exam to find out if contact lenses may be right for you.
Being Fitted for Contact Lenses
The contact lens fitting involves special measurements of the curvature of the front surface of your eye with an instrument called a keratometer. This gives Dr. Milano a starting point for determining the proper curve and size for your contact lenses. Contact lenses that are too flat or too steep for the shape of your eyes will be uncomfortable and/or can cause damage to the front surface of the eye, the cornea. Your contact lens fitting may also include additional computerized measurements of your eyes that allow Dr. Milano see the curve of the entire front surface of your eyes.
Many contact lens fittings include an evaluation of the tear film on the front of your eyes. If your eyes are too dry, contact lenses may not be for you. If your eyes are marginally dry, some contact lenses work better than others. Typically, if your eyes are dry, you should moisten them frequently with artificial tears. Also, extended wear of contact lenses may not be possible. Your doctor will also carefully evaluate the health of the cornea with an instrument called a biomicroscope (also called a slit lamp). This detects other problems that could make contact lens wear difficult for you. It also gives Dr. Milano a baseline from which he can monitor any changes to your eyes due to contact lens wear.
Next, trial lenses may be applied to your eyes and evaluated with the biomicroscope to judge the fit of the lenses and how much they move with each blink. This step is also done at each follow-up visit in the fitting process. Sometimes, lenses that appear to fit fine when first applied can tighten up after several hours of wear. Checking the fit of your lenses several times is essential to ensure your lenses continue to fit properly and cause no adverse effects to the cornea.
Finally, a review of how long to wear your lenses and how to care for them is an important part of the contact lens fitting.
After the doctor is sure your lenses fit properly, provide satisfactory vision and comfort, and are causing no harm to your eyes, your final contact lens prescription can be written.
Follow-up Exams and Replacement Contact Lenses
After your contact lens fitting is complete (typically 2 or 3 office visits), you should have your eyes and contact lenses examined at least once per year. All contact lenses, no matter how well they fit or how new they are, reduce the amount of oxygen to the cornea and increase your risk for eye infections. Annual exams are important to maintain the health of your eyes and avoid unnecessary complications from contact lens wear.
Caring for Your Soft Contact Lenses
- Wash your hands with soap and water and dry them on a lint free towel before handling your lenses. Shorter fingernails are preferred to reduce the possibility of damage to the lens and your eye.
- Remove lenses from the case and rinse thoroughly. It is best to remove the same lens, either right or left, each time to avoid mix-ups.
- Inspect the lens by placing it on your index finger. Make sure it is clean and not inverted before inserting the lens. If the lens is inverted or inside out, it will appear to flare out on the sides of the lens.
- Insert the lens by holding the upper lashes with one finger on the hand not holding the lens. Use the middle finger on the lens hand to pull down lower eyelid. Look straight ahead or slightly up. Place the lens directly on the center of the eye. Once the lens is in place, you can blink freely.
- Remove your contacts only after washing, rinsing, and drying your hands. Gently slide the lens to the white portion of the eye. Carefully squeeze the lens between your thumb and index finger and remove.
- Clean your contacts after wearing by placing the lens in the palm of one hand. Place a few drops of cleaning solution on the lens and gently rub the solution in a circular motion. Clean each lens separately.
- Rinse the contact case with lens solution after removing the lenses. Let the case air dry before refilling with new solution.
- Store lenses in their case by fully immersing them in the prescribed solution. Do not store soft contacts in tap water. Use only sterile lens solutions.
- Eye drops can be used if the lenses are dry or vision appears blurry while being worn. Use eye drops to loosen lenses if they feel dry or sticky before removal.