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Contact lenses can free you from your glasses! They don't fog up in winter, fall off during recreational activities and provide excellent vision! Because contact lenses are inserted into the eye, they require a different type of fitting and prescription than a pair of glasses.
Our office provides complete ongoing contact lens care for current contact lens wearers as well as fitting and training sessions for those patients who have never worn contact lenses. We will prescribe contact lenses, necessary lens care solutions and specialized instructions for care & wear. For our contact lens care & wear tips please click here.
Contact lenses also require a higher level of care. Some adverse reactions do not have symptoms, but may still harm the eye. For this reason, regularly schedule check-ups are recommended for all contact lens wearers. Ask your optometrist if contacts are right for you! Book a contact lens assessment here.
Are contact lenses right for me?
The vast majority of people requiring vision correction can wear contact lenses without any problems. New materials and contact lens care technologies have made today's contact lenses more comfortable, safer and easier to wear. Consider the questions and answers below to help assess whether they're a choice you should consider.
Contact lens wear may be difficult if:
- Your eyes are severely irritated by allergies
- You work in an environment with lots of dust and chemicals
- You have an overactive thyroid, uncontrolled diabetes, or severe arthritis in your hands
- Your eyes are overly dry due to pregnancy or medications you are taking
After a thorough eye examination, your suitability for contact lenses and the specific contact lens option that best meets your requirements will be determined.
What are the advantages of wearing contact lenses?
- Some people prefer the cosmetic look of contacts over glasses
- They reduce obstruction from eyeglass frames and provide excellent peripheral vision
- Less hassle as they don't get in the way during sports and other recreational activities
- No fogging up with temperature changes or "splattering" during a rain shower!
What are the disadvantages?
- Contact lenses require getting used to. New soft lens wearers typically adjust to their lenses within a week. Rigid lenses generally require a somewhat longer adjustment period.
- Except for daily disposable varieties (which we prefer!), almost all lenses require regular cleaning and disinfection.
How will my lifestyle and work life affect my ability to wear contact lenses?
For those involved in sports and recreational activities, contact lenses offer a number of advantages. They provide excellent peripheral vision, eliminating the problem of fogged or rain splattered lenses, and free you from worries about broken glasses. Wearing contact lenses also means you can wear non-prescription protective eye wear for sports like squash. You always look through the centers of the contact lenses as they move with your eye movements.
Your occupation and work environment should also be taken into consideration. Those who require good peripheral vision may want to consider contact lenses. Those who work in dusty environments or where chemicals are in heavy use are likely to find spectacles more comfortable and are certainly more safe.
I like wearing glasses. Is there an option to wear contact lenses only some of the time?
No longer is it necessary to choose between either contact lenses or glasses. Some of today's contacts are so easy to wear that you can use them intermittently — for special occasions or while participating in sports. For example, daily disposable contact lenses are perfect for those who choose to wear contacts only part-time.
How do contact lenses help my vision?
Contact lenses are designed to rest on the cornea, the clear outer surface of the eye. They are held in place mainly by adhering to the tear film that covers the front of the eye and, to a lesser extent, by pressure from the eyelids.
As the eyelid blinks, it glides over the surface of the contact lens and causes it to move slightly. This movement allows the tears to provide necessary lubrication to the cornea and helps flush away debris between the cornea and the contact lens.
Contact lenses are optical medical devices, primarily used to correct nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism and presbyopia. In these conditions, light is not focused properly on the retina, the layer of nerve endings in the back of the eye that converts light to electrochemical impulses. When light is not focused properly on the retina, the result is blurred or imperfect vision. When in place on the cornea, the contact lens functions as the initial optical element of the eye. The optics of the contact lens combine with the optics of the eye to properly focus light on the retina and provide clear vision.
Are you confused about contacts? Advances in contact lens technologies have created many options. Today, contact lenses are likely to be described in one or several of the following ways.
By their prescribed wearing period:
- Daily wear (up to 18 hours)
- Extended wear (for overnight use, ask your optometrist about the options that would be right for you)
Lenses prescribed for daily wear are to be worn only during waking hours, usually up to a maximum of 18 hours. Daily wear lenses are removed at night and cleaned and disinfected after each removal or disposed of after one use.
Extended wear lenses may be worn on an overnight basis. You should wear your lenses on an extended wear basis only on the advice of your optometrist. Extended wear lenses generally have a higher water content or thinner center thickness than other lenses and permit more oxygen to reach the eye.
By their replacement schedule:
- Frequent replacement: quarterly, 1 month, 2 weeks or daily disposable
- Conventional replacement: for only certain specialty lenses
Frequent replacement contact lenses are disposed of and replaced with a new pair according to a planned schedule. Conventional lenses are typically used for as long as they remain undamaged, usually around 12 months.
Almost immediately after they are inserted, contact lenses begin attracting deposits of proteins and lipids. Accumulated deposits, even with routine lens care, begin to erode the performance of your contacts and create a situation that presents a greater risk to your eye health. A specific replacement schedule helps to prevent problems before they might occur.
Except for daily disposables, frequent replacement lenses require cleaning and disinfection after each period of wear unless they are discarded immediately upon removal.
By the type of vision correction for which they are designed:
- Spherical (for near-sightedness - myopia, or farsightedness - hyperopia)
- Toric (for astigmatism)
- Multifocals (for the loss of ability to focus on close up activities - presbyopia)
As an alternative to multifocal contact lenses, many practitioners use a system called monovision where one eye is fitted with a distance lens and the other with a reading lens.
By the type of material of which they are made:
- Rigid gas permeable (including scleral lenses)
Below is a brief comparison of soft and rigid gas permeable (RGP) contact lenses. A thorough eye examination and a better understanding of your specific vision requirements will help determine the best options for you.
Soft contact lensesAdvantages
- Greater initial comfort than hard or rigid gas permeable (RGP) lenses
- Shorter adaptation period for new wearers
- Ideal for intermittent wear.
- Less susceptible to the intrusion of foreign objects under the lens, such as dust.
- Less sensitivity to light than with RGP lenses.
- Rarely fall out of the eye, making them ideal for sports.
- Available in tinted versions.
- Less durable than hard or RGP lenses.
- May dry out, causing discomfort for some, especially in windy, dry weather.
- More involved lens care, especially for conventional soft lenses.
- Those requiring vision correction due to astigmatism or presbyopia may feel they see better in their glasses than their contact lenses.
- Susceptible to more protein or lipid deposits, that reduce lens performance in the long term.
- May absorb chemicals from the environment, which can cause irritation.
Rigid gas permeable (RGP) lensesAdvantages
- Good vision especially when correct mostly corneal astigmatism.
- Good durability.
- Easy to handle.
- Easier care.
- Allows exceptional oxygen permeability.
- Less initial comfort than soft lenses.
- Longer adaptation period required than soft lenses.
- More easily dislodged during sports.
- Can scratch and break.
- Intermittent wear less feasible.
By the type of tint they have:
- Tinted to improve handling only
- Tinted to enhance your eye colour
- Tinted to change your eye colour
- Clear - without tints
Tints are used to make lenses more visible during handling, or for therapeutic or cosmetic reasons. Tints can enhance eye colour, or change it altogether. In fact, some people who don't even need vision correction wear tinted contact lenses as a way to change their look.
Three categories of tinted contact lenses are available.
- Cosmetic enhancement tints are translucent and are designed to enhance your natural eye colour. They are best for light-coloured eyes (blues, greens, light hazel or grays). When wearing these tints, the colour of your eye is a blend of the lens tint and your natural eye colour and iris pattern.
- Opaque tints change the colour of your eyes whether they are dark or light. The pattern on the lens, which is coloured, overlies the coloured part of your eye, resulting in a colour with a natural look.
- Visibility tints are very pale, coloured just enough to make the contact lens visible while you are handling it. They usually have no effect on eye colour.
There are three contact lens options for correcting the close-up blurred vision that typically begins in middle age, a condition referred to as presbyopia (one of the three options still calls for reading glasses, but they can be used discreetly).
- Multifocal contact lenses
- Distance vision contact lenses with supplementary reading glasses slipped over the contacts for close work
Multifocal contact lenses
With multifocal contact lenses, you look through both the reading and distance portions of the lenses all the time. This means that whenever you look at an object, you see two images of it. One will be clear (from the portion of the lens most matched to the distance at which you are observing). The other will be blurred (from the other portion of the lens). Your brain learns to ignore the blurred image so that you see the other clear image.
If you wear multifocal contact lenses, they will normally perform optimally in bright conditions. Since multifocal lenses divide the light into two images, each of which will use about half of the available light, you may find that in dimly lit conditions seeing is more difficult. Driving at night may present more difficulty, for example.
Monovision is an option in which one eye is fitted with a lens for seeing things at a distance and the other eye is fitted for seeing close-up. After a period of adjustment, the brain switches to the eye that is giving the clearest image at the time. While many people successfully use monovision, others find adapting difficult. Mildly blurred vision, dizziness, headaches and a feeling of slight imbalance may last for a few minutes or for several weeks as you adapt. Generally, the longer these symptoms last, the more unlikely it is that you will adapt successfully. Approximately two-thirds of patients eventually adapt to a monovision correction.
If you are new to monovision you may benefit from avoiding visually demanding situations at first, and instead to wear their new lenses only in familiar situations. For example, it may be better to be a passenger, rather than a driver, in a car. In fact, you should only drive with monovision correction if you can pass your driver's license eye examination while wearing it.
Some people are uncomfortable in situations with low illumination, such as night driving. If that is your concern, ask us about prescribing an additional contact lens to correct both eyes for distance for those times when sharp distance vision is required. An alternative is a pair of glasses with additional power in the reading eye so that the combined power of your contacts and the spectacles match your distance prescription.
If you require very sharp near vision, you might want to ask about an additional contact lens to correct both eyes for close-up work. Or, to occasionally have the clearest vision for critical tasks, you may want to request supplemental glasses to wear over your monovision correction, converting the distance eye to a reading prescription so that you can use both eyes at near distance.
Distance vision contact lenses
The final option for correcting presbyopia is this: wear contact lenses for distance, then slip some reading glasses over them for close-up work. Perhaps not the perfect answer, this option enables you to still have remarkable distance vision versus multifocal or monovision contact lenses.
For today's active teenagers, contacts are a perfect fit. Today's contact lenses are more comfortable and easier to care for than those of a decade ago.
When can you begin wearing contact lenses?
The level of maturity of the individual is of utmost importance: even pre-teens can handle contacts well and understand the use of their care systems to maintain clean, comfortable lenses. When to begin contact lens wear can only be determined in conjunction with your eye care practitioner.
What are the advantages of contact lenses over eyeglasses? Glasses can get in the way, especially in sports, cheerleading, dance or other exercise. When you're active, contact lenses don't steam up or slide down your nose nor do the rims interfere with your side, or peripheral, vision.
Teen eyes are not "mature enough" for contacts.
Most eye care professionals agree that as early as age 10, most patients are able to wear contact lenses effectively.
Contacts fall out a lot.
Contact lenses fell out more often when the only ones available were hard (RGP) lenses. Soft lenses conform to the shape of the eye, are larger in diameter and are tucked under the eyelids, so they usually don't move out of place or fall out. Plus, they're usually more stable than glasses, especially for sports.
Contact lenses are expensive.
The price of an annual supply of contact lenses is comparable to that of an average pair of eyeglasses.
Contact lenses are hard to care for.
Today's lens care systems are easy and quick to use. Daily disposable contact lenses eliminate the need for cleaning and storing the lenses as they are disposed of after a single use.
Contact lenses are not safe to wear for sports
Except for water sports, contacts are very safe. They can't be broken or knocked off the face and they provide unobstructed peripheral vision.
When you are fitted for contact lenses a particular lens care system is recommended -products to clean, disinfect and make your lenses safe and comfortable for wear. Since different systems use different types of chemicals, it is not advisable to mix or substitute solutions from the cases they are meant to work with. Doing so could lead to eye discomfort or eye injury.
Soft contact lens care systems
Regardless of how they are packaged, most lens care systems include products that perform different functions. The functions required are dependent upon the type of lens regimen and your eyes and will be discussed with you as part of a contact lens training program.
- cleaning to remove debris accumulated and adhering loosely to the lens - this debris, if not removed, can eventually make the lenses uncomfortable, interfere with vision and reduce the ability of the disinfecting solution to kill potentially harmful microorganisms
- disinfecting to kill growing forms of microorganisms (bacteria, fungi, and viruses) on the lenses
- lubricating properties are used to provide refreshment for dry eyes, in conditions of low humidity or for added comfort near the end of the wearing day
- protein removal removes stubborn deposits and, with daily cleaning and disinfection, helps restore a clean, fresh contact lens surface - protein removal is generally not required for frequent replacement lenses, which are replaced before the deposits can cause difficulties
Rigid Gas Permeable (RGP) contact lens care systems
RGP lenses must be cleaned and disinfected for safe and comfortable wear. The lens care system recommended will include a group of products designed to work together to clean, rinse, disinfect and remove protein deposits and to re-wet your eyes if they become dry during contact lens wear.
It is important to use only those systems designed specifically for rigid gas permeable lenses. They are formulated with disinfectants and preservatives proven to work best with the material of which your lenses are made. If you wish to change your lens care regimen or to try a new lens care product, it is best to discuss this with your optometrist first to ensure that you select products that are compatible with your eyes.