Some might consider glasses to be easier than contacts. They are easy to put on in the morning and take off at night. They offer simple maintenance and don’t require you to put your fingers so close to your eyes. However, if you are tired of cleaning your lenses throughout the day, looking at the world boxed in by frames, or misplacing your pair, contact lenses may offer you freedom from frames. Even if you should only use your contacts irregularly or occasionally, they are a convenient item to have in your eye-care arsenal.
Today, contact lenses can correct a range of refractive errors such as myopia, hyperopia, presbyopia, and astigmatism. They are created in a variety of materials and wear length, like silicone and daily disposables, to best suit all types of eyes. While an optometrist is your best asset when choosing the right contacts for your lifestyle and correction needs, here are four things to consider when deciding if contacts are for you.
Depending on the contacts you choose, you may be able to wear them for different periods of time. Both are safe options, but an optometrist’s recommendation for extended wear is critical to ensure your eyes can tolerate contacts for long durations.
Daily lenses – If you have a predictable lifestyle that allows you to safely take your contacts out every evening to let them soak in cleaning solution, daily wear lenses that you remove and wear for several days, before disposing of them, may be your best bet. These are especially good for patients who experience any irritation when wearing contacts or who switch between glasses and contacts on a regular basis.
Extended wear – These lenses can be worn for up to 7 days in a row, including overnight. They are good for those with less predicable or more active lifestyles. People who travel, campers, army recruits, and pilots may all benefit from having contacts that do not need to be removed every day. Parents who have severe refraction errors may also appreciate having clear vision when awoken in the night by a hungry baby. These types of lenses aren’t for everyone; they come with increased risks for infection and need to be monitored more frequently by your optometrist.
How often you must replace your contacts can be a deciding factor in your contact lens choice. There are four basic replacement types.
Daily disposable – These contacts are worn for a day at a time. They require the least amount of maintenance, as they are discarded each night. This means you’re never cleaning your lenses or packing solution with you when you travel. If your prescription allows for this, this gives you the healthiest and most convenient option. These offer the least chance of infection but increase the cost of contacts. Shop daily disposables here.
Biweekly Disposable – Designed to be replaced every two weeks, these lenses stand up to wear and tear better than daily disposables but are still thin and light. Wearers prone to infections and allergies benefit from the higher frequency of replacement than monthly because the build up of allergens and germs is lessened. Shop biweekly disposables here.
Monthly Disposables – These can be used for most prescriptions and offer the wearer a lower overall cost. These are currently the most commonly prescribed contact lenses, although daily disposables are becoming more and more common. Cleaning and disinfection is vital to their successful wear over an entire month. They are strong enough to be inserted and removed daily for weeks at a time but can still tear, necessitating early replacement. Shop monthly disposables here.
Annual – Annual lenses are essentially obsolete now, only used for rare types of prescriptions in which disposable CL's are not available. They may take the form of soft lenses or rigid gas permeable lenses.
We’ve come a long way from the blown glass contacts worn in the 19th century. Today, scientists are developing new plastics to better suit contact lenses. Currently, there are three main types of materials to choose from.
Soft lenses – The most common material, these lenses are very malleable, so they can match the shape of your eye comfortably. Most patients find these contact lenses to be immediately comfortable, but take some practice putting them in and taking them out. Your optometrist can walk you through this process in the office, so you feel confident trying it at home on your own.
Rigid Gas Permeable (RGP) – Made of silicone and a more rigid type of plastic, these lenses allow oxygen to pass through to the cornea during wear. RGP's offer sharper vision and greater durability, great for those are willing to deal with an adjustment period for the clearest vision. They may be tricky to get used to wearing, inserting, and removing, but once you have gotten used to them they can be just as comfortable as soft contact lenses.
Hybrid – By combining materials, these lenses offer the comfort of soft contacts with the crispness of vision provided by rigid contact lenses. The center portion that sits on the cornea is hard, encircled by a “skirt” of soft contact material. Although these sound like an ideal situation, getting the fit right can be difficult and they tend to be more expensive. These are typically only used in cases of corneal disease.
The final thing your optometrist will consider is your personal needs from your contacts. At your contact lens fitting, your doctor will measure your corneal curvature, the size of your pupil and iris, and evaluate your tear film to better assess which lenses will work best for your eyes. If you suffer from allergies or dry eyes you should mention it to your optometrist, as well as any lifestyle considerations you think are pertinent, such as outdoor activities or occupational peculiarities.
Your optometrist at FYidoctors is well-versed in the pros and cons of the contacts available to you. At your contact lens fitting, they will speak with you about your needs, your concerns, and your eyes. Together, you can make an informed decision about which option is best for you. You may be given a trial pair of lenses to make sure they are comfortable and right for you. If they are not, we’ll work together to find you a pair that are the perfect fit. To start your life with contact lenses, make an appointment at your local FYidoctors and begin shopping your favourite brands in our online contact store.
For more information on contact lenses, read Are Contact Lenses Right for You?, 5 Things To Stop (Or Start) Doing This Contact Lens Health Week, and Camping 101 with Contact Lenses.