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Contact Lenses and Care

Eyes | July 10, 2018 | Author: Naturopath

Eyes

Contact Lenses and Care

Contact lenses have given millions of people around the world added freedom, comfort and versatility. It’s estimated that around 680,000 people between the ages of 15 and 64 wear some form of contacts. They are worn to correct refractive errors such as long-sightedness, short-sightedness and astigmatism (blurry vision). Regardless of what contact lens you wear, they must be fitted by a professional and cared for correctly to reduce the risk eye damage and infection.

How contact lenses work

Contact lenses are small prescription lenses that cover the eye. They float on the tear film layer on the surface of the cornea and naturally move with the eye. They work in a similar way to glasses by refracting and focusing light so that objects are seen clearly.

Benefits of contact lenses

Benefits of contact lensesContact lenses may not be suitable for everyone but they do have the following benefits:

  • Move with your eyes to allow a natural field of view
  • Don’t block your vision like glasses
  • Reduce distortions
  • Don’t fog up or get dirty like glasses
  • Excellent for sports or any other physical activity

Types of contact lenses

Soft contacts

Soft contact lenses are usually the most popular choice. In comparison to rigid lenses they are more comfortable and easier to adapt to. Soft contact lenses are used to correct various visual problems including nearsightedness, farsightedness, blurred vision, corneal irregularities and loss of close-up vision related to age.

There are different kinds of soft contact lenses, such as:

Daily wear lenses—this kind of contact is designed to be worn during the day and then taken out at night to be cleaned and disinfected. Usually this is the cheapest option and how long you wear them will depend on the manufacturers recommendations.

Disposable lenses—these are designed to be worn for a certain period of time—daily, weekly or monthly. They are worn during the day, taken out at night but don’t need to sit in a cleaning solution overnight. Disposable lenses are suitable for people who only wear contacts occasionally or don’t want to bother to disinfect at night.

Extended wear lenses—these are worn during the day and while you sleep. They need to be cleaned at least once a week but do increase your risk of irritation and infection because your eyes aren’t given a break.

Hard contact lenses

Hard lenses are made of rigid gas-permeable plastic that covers only part of the cornea. They provide clear, crisp vision for a variety of eye concerns. Most types of hard contacts must be removed for cleaning and disinfecting at night and can be worn for up to three years if the prescription doesn’t change. They benefit the eyes by being more breathable and reduce the risk of irritation, dryness and infection.

In addition to hard and soft contact lenses, there are also specialised contact lenses including:

  • Hybrid contact lenses—these might be indicated if you have corneal curvature as well as a refractive error. They might be considered in instances when there have been issues with wearing harder lenses.
  • Bifocal or multifocal lenses—used to correct nearsightedness, farsightedness or astigmatism in combination with age-related loss of close-up vision.
  • Tinted contact lenses—these can either be worn for cosmetic purposes i.e. to change eye colour or for therapeutic purposes such as in people with colour-blindness to enhance colour perception.

Proper lens care

To minimise the risk of damage to your eye, contact lenses must be cared for in the correct way. This will obviously depend on what kind of contact lens you wear but below are some general guidelines for you to follow.

See your eye specialist

See your eye specialistBefore getting contacts, consult your ophthalmologist for a thorough eye exam and fitting. They may recommend that you need check-ups at regular intervals to confirm your prescription and keep an eye on things. If you experience any changes in vision, eye irritation, swelling, discharge or any other problem, remove your contacts and seek professional advice.

Cleaning solutions

Follow your eye practitioner’s instructions when using your contact lenses, including using the appropriate cleaning solution. It is also important to only use the cleaning solutions that are recommended for your type of contact lenses. Don’t clean your contact lenses with anything else including saliva, soap, tap water or any other kind of disinfectant.

Hygiene

Follow basic hygiene principles before handling your contact lenses. Make sure you wash your hands well with soap and water and dry thoroughly with a lint free towel.

Contact wear duration

Only wear your contact lenses for the recommended duration. This might mean you need to take them out at night or only wear them for a week before discarding. Even though extended wear contacts can be worn while sleeping, removing them before bed can minimise your risk of complications.

Contact lens case

Contact lens caseIn the same way that you care for your contact lenses, the case which stores your lenses needs to stay sterile too.

Studies have found that microbes can inhabit the case and contribute to eye infections. To avoid this happening replace your case every 3-6 months.

Immediately after lenses are removed discard the old solution.

Rub the case with clean fingers, rinse with the contact lens disinfecting solution, then wipe dry with a clean tissue. Air dry the case face down on a tissue with the caps off.

Summing up contact lenses

  • Contact lenses offer many advantages but are not suitable for everyone
  • They are worn to correct vision by refracting and focusing light
  • Soft and hard contact lenses are the most popular choices
  • To reduce complications they must be fitted, worn and cared for correctly

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References

https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/eyes-contact-lenses

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/contact-lenses/art-20046293

Edwards K, et al. The penetrance and characteristics of contact lens wear in Australia. Clin Exp Optom. 2014 Jan;97(1):48-54

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23834714

Wu YT, et al. Contact lens hygiene compliance and lens case contamination: A review. Cont Lens Anterior Eye. 2015 Oct;38(5):307-16

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25980811

Shovlin JP, et al. Ocular surface health with contact lens wear. Cont Lens Anterior Eye. 2013 Jan 15;36 Suppl 1:S14-21

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23347571

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