The Benefits of Daily Contact Lenses

When we conduct a contact lens evaluation and fitting in our office, your personal preferences and routines help determine which lens replacement schedule we recommend. The most common replacement schedules are every day, every two weeks, or every month. Each schedule has its strong points.

The benefits of daily lenses are:

  • You never have to clean them. No nightly cleaning routine. No parade of lens solution bottles. At the end of a long day, just toss the lenses out and go to bed.
  • An easy–to–remember wear and replacement schedule. No more calendar reminders to replace your contacts. You start every morning with a fresh pair.
  • They may help with eye allergies and protein build–up. With less time for allergens and protein deposits to build up, daily contacts give these irritants less of a chance to cause eye discomfort or other problems. Also, a fresh, smooth lens surface every day is gentler on irritated eyes.
  • A great fit for teenagers. Between school, sports, and social lives, teenagers are apt to forget or ignore cleaning and changing their contacts. And that can lead to problems like lenses that irritate the eyes and eye infections. Dailies make cleaning unnecessary and changing lenses a breeze.

Greater Convenience Also Means You Might Need To Buy More Lenses

Because you use daily lenses only for a day and then throw them away, if you wear your lenses every day, you’ll need to buy more lenses than you would if you used lenses with a two–week or monthly replacement schedule. (Some patients alternate between wearing daily contact lenses and eyeglasses, so their lens supply lasts longer.)

During your appointment, we’ll examine your eyes to find the right contact lens prescription and replacement schedule for you and your needs. If you’d like to find out if daily contact lenses are right for you, give us a call to schedule an appointment.

Nothing in this article is to be construed as medical advice, nor is it intended to replace the recommendations of a medical professional. For specific questions, please contact our office.

Your Teen and Contact Lenses

Teenagers (and the parents who love them) often ask us about switching from eyeglasses to contact lenses. Whether the change is permanent or just an alternative to glasses, there are several great reasons for getting your teen into prescription contacts.

  • Freedom: Your teen may simply be tired of wearing eyeglasses, especially thick frames that slip and slide down the bridge of his or her nose.
  • Sports: Glasses don’t mix well with active sports. They can fall off. Even worse, they can break, leading to injury. Repairing or replacing broken glasses is also costly. And glasses don’t provide the peripheral vision needed during game play. The good news is that quality contact lenses solve those problems. They make it easier to wear protective goggles, too.
  • Glasses-free look: Remember your teen years? Were they awkward or smooth sailing? Maybe a mix of both! In any case, your teen may simply prefer the way he or she looks and feels without glasses.
  • Eye color change: Today’s natural–looking color contacts are very popular among teens. And they’re safe–so long as they’re prescribed by an eye care professional.

Talking About Contacts With Your Teen: Important Topics

Contacts are medical devices. Did you know that contact lenses are considered medical devices? It’s easy to understand why. The eyes are one of the body’s most important and delicate parts. That’s why what we put in and on them must be medically safe and properly fitted by an eye care professional.

Wash your hands before handling and inserting your contact lenses. Your eyes are one of your immune system’s most vulnerable points. To help keep germs away and protect your vision, follow the hand washing instructions from your eye care professional.

Handle your lenses with care. Contact lenses can tear. Never wear torn contact lenses. They can scratch your eyes leading to infection and other possible vision problems.

Consider daily disposable contacts. Clean contact lenses are key to helping keep your eyes healthy. Daily disposable lenses or “dailies” are worn for the day and thrown away before going to sleep. They offer several benefits:

  • No nighttime lens cleaning required, saving time and cleaning solution. (Particularly beneficial for teens that may forget to clean their contacts or ignore the process.)
  • An easy–to–remember wear schedule.
  • They can help people with eye allergies. Starting every day with a fresh pair of lenses means there’s less time for allergies to flair and deposits to build up.
  • They offer a self–esteem boost in helping teens succeed with their new responsibility.

Don’t share your contacts–ever! Your contact lenses are fitted and prescribed just for your eyes. Sharing contact lenses can encourage an eye infection and other vision problems.

A special caution about Halloween contact lenses. Like color contacts, novelty contact lenses are popular, especially for Halloween. As we mentioned earlier, it’s essential to have contact lenses of any kind properly fitted by an eye care professional. In fact, some lenses may not be FDA approved unless they’re purchased from a licensed professional. Wearing contacts that aren’t fitted and prescribed by a professional could harm your teen’s eyes.

If you’d like to schedule an appointment to fit your teen for contacts, or to learn more about them, please give us a call.

Nothing in this article is to be construed as medical advice, nor is it intended to replace the recommendations of a medical professional. For specific questions, please contact our office.

Blurry Vision Up Close? Consider Multifocal Contacts

At about age 40, many of our patients begin having difficulty focusing their eyes on objects up close. They now have to hold anything they are reading farther away from their eyes in order to see it clearly. A condition called presbyopia is a likely cause. It’s both very common and very treatable.

If you’d like an alternative to reading glasses, consider multifocal contact lenses. They allow your eyes to focus up close, far away and in between without the need for eyeglasses.

How multifocal contact lenses work

A single multifocal contact lens contains multiple prescriptions. There’s typically one prescription to correct up close vision, one for distance vision, and one for intermediate distance vision. This design lets your eyes smoothly transition for clear vision at different distances.

What’s the difference between multifocal and bifocal contacts?

Multifocal contact lenses have a range of prescriptions (optical powers) in the same lens. Much like progressive eyeglasses, multifocal lenses provide a gradual transition between the different prescriptions in each lens.

Bifocal lenses, on the other hand, have just two prescriptions in each lens. And there is a distinct edge between the near and far vision prescription areas of the lens. This can be a problem for some patients because instead of having a gradual transition between prescriptions, they have to learn how to visually switch between the two prescriptions. In addition, bifocals may adversely affect your depth perception.

Types of multifocal contacts

Manufacturers of multifocal contact lenses use either soft lens materials or “hard” rigid gas permeable (RGP) materials. In addition to conventional soft lenses, there are also advanced soft lenses made with silicone hydrogel. This material allows more oxygen to reach your eyes so they stay comfortable longer.

The most common multifocal lens design features a set of concentric circles. The circles cover the range of lens powers we prescribe so you can see up close and at different distances.

There are also blended designs that keep both the near and distance prescriptions close to the center of your eye (your pupil). This design mimics a natural viewing experience by correcting the specific points of aberration in your eyes.

Are multifocal contact lenses right for you?

We can help you determine if multifocal lenses are the best solution for you. Here are some  key benefits and drawbacks to consider.

Key benefits of wearing multifocal contacts

  • Sharper vision for the range of distances from near to far
  • A less abrupt switch between prescriptions
  • The ability to see in most conditions without extra eyewear

Drawbacks to wearing multifocal contacts

For some people, multifocal lenses may be:

  • More difficult to adjust to due to a different viewing experience
  • Accompanied by nighttime glare and hazy or shadowy vision during the adjustment period
  • More expensive because of the increased complexity in design

Alternatives to multifocal contact lenses

Multifocal lenses aren’t the best choice for everyone. Bifocals may be the answer to correct your presbyopia. Other options include:

  • Pairing reading glasses with normal contact lenses
  • Monovision contact lenses, meaning you wear one lens to correct only near vision in one eye and one lens to correct only distance vision in your other eye.
  • Surgical correction or lens implantation recommended by your doctor

If presbyopia has become a problem for you, we encourage you to make an appointment with us to discuss your options. Your eyesight and vision health are our top concern.

Contact Lenses for Dry Eyes

Have you been told you can’t wear contact lenses because your eyes are too dry? Or have you stopped wearing contacts because your lenses made your eyes feel dry and irritated?

If so, here’s some good news: today there are new contact lenses and contact lens care products that are making contact lens wear more comfortable than ever.

Dry Eyes: A Common Problem

Statistics vary from study to study, but the conclusion is consistent: dry eye problems are very common. In July 2014, Contact Lens Spectrum reported results of a survey that found approximately one-third of adult patients visiting eye care providers had some degree of dry eye.

And for computer users, the problem appears to be even worse. In a study published in American Journal of Ophthalmology (July 2013), researchers in Japan found that among full-time office workers who routinely use a computer, roughly 60 percent of males and more than 75 percent of females showed signs and symptoms of dry eye disease (DED). Risk factors included being over age 30 and using a computer more than eight hours per day.

It’s no wonder, then, that many people find their contact lenses feeling dry from time to time.

If you have severe dry eyes, the only real solution to contact lens dryness discomfort is to see your eye care provider to have your dry eye condition successfully treated before attempting or resuming contact lens wear.

But if your dry eye symptoms are relatively mild, you may find that asking your eye care provider for a different type or brand of contact lenses or switching to a new contact lens care regimen may significantly improve your contact lens comfort.

Contact Lenses Designed To Retain Moisture

Because dryness discomfort is a primary reason why people discontinue contact lens wear, several lens manufactures have introduced soft contacts that are specifically designed to retain moisture better than previous hydrogel technology. Examples of these moisture-retaining soft lenses include:

Proclear lenses (CooperVision) are made of a high-water hydrogel material and feature technology that uses molecules similar to those in human cell membranes. These molecules attract and surround themselves with water, keeping Proclear lenses moist and comfortable for 12 hours of wear or longer, according to the company. Other contact lenses that feature proprietary technology to retain moisture longer than other soft lenses include Extreme H2O lenses (Hydrogel Vision) and Dailies Total 1 lenses (Alcon).

Extreme H2O lenses are available in weekly and two-week disposable designs; Dailies Total 1 lenses are one-day disposable lenses.

Your eye care provider can discuss these and other brands of hydrogel and silicone hydrogel lenses that may stay moist and comfortable longer than your previous and/or current lenses.

Moisture-Enhancing Lens Care Products

Sometimes, changing to a different contact lens solution or lens care system can significantly improve your wearing comfort. In particular, if you wear silicone hydrogel lenses, some of these lenses will stay moist longer with the use of specific care products.

But don’t make any changes to your lens care products without first consulting with your eye doctor. Certain lenses perform better with specific solutions, and your doctor can make the best choices for you based on your specific needs.

Different brands of contact lens solutions can look the same on the store shelf. Bring all care products that you are currently using with you when you visit your doctor so there is no confusion regarding the products you are using.

Preservative-Free Lens Care

Most contact lens wearers use multipurpose care solutions for rinsing, disinfecting and storing their lenses. These products contain preservatives that sometimes can irritate your eyes and make them feel dry.

If you lenses are becoming uncomfortable — even if you have used multipurpose solutions for months without problems — ask your eye care provider if switching to a preservative-free lens care system with hydrogen peroxide as the disinfecting agent might be a better choice for you.

Daily Disposable Contact Lenses

Lens deposits that form on contact lenses over time can cause lenses to dry out more easily and cause discomfort. To eliminate day-after-day buildup on lenses, consider switching to daily disposable lenses that you discard after a single use.

Often, switching to daily disposable lenses eliminates discomfort issues, whether they are caused by lens deposits, dryness or sensitivity to preservatives in lens care products.

Rewetting Drops

contact lensesSometimes contact lens-related dry eyes can be solved with occasional use eye drops known as contact lens rewetting drops. Ask your eye care provider which brands are best for the type of contact lenses you are wearing.

Do not use artificial tears or other eye drops while wearing contact lenses without first checking with your eye doctor, as some drops can discolor or damage your lenses or cause your contacts to adhere to the surface of your eyes.

Important Tips for Contact Lens Wearers

Whether you’re new to contact lenses, or you’ve been wearing them for years, it’s important to put the following tips into practice.

Putting in and Removing Your Contact Lenses

First, wash and dry your hands thoroughly.

contact lensesWhatever is on your hands when you touch your contact lenses could end up in your eyes. That’s why it’s important to thoroughly wash your hands with antimicrobial soap. Then dry your hands thoroughly with a clean towel before handling your contact lenses.

Also, avoid using cream or oil-based soaps and lotions before touching your contacts, as these can contaminate your lenses or leave an oily film.

Always start with the same eye for contact lens insertion.

When inserting your contacts, start with the same eye every time. You’ll be less likely to switch the lenses by mistake. That’s especially important because your left and right contact lenses can have different prescriptions.

Place your contact lens in your palm.

Hold your contact lens by putting it in the palm of your hand. Pinching the lens between your fingers increases the chance you’ll nick it with your fingernail. Fingernails can harm the surface of the lens, and are also a rich source of bacteria.

Remove Your Contacts if You Experience Pain or Discomfort

If your contact lenses start to hurt or feel uncomfortable, or if people comment on the redness of your eyes, remove your lenses. Then check them for cracks or scratches, and discard any damaged lenses.

If pain or discomfort happen repeatedly when wearing your contact lenses, give us a call to schedule an appointment. We can help diagnose the problem and make sure you have the right lenses for you. In the meantime, it may be best to wear your eyeglasses instead.

Stock up on contact lens solution

Unless you wear daily disposable contact lenses, it’s a hassle to discover you’re out of lens cleaning solution at the end of a long day. Having contact lens solution on hand is especially important because you should use fresh cleaning solution each time you touch and store your contact lenses. Never use tap water to clean your contacts. It can contain impurities and infectious microorganisms.

Keep Your Glasses With You

Having your glasses available, especially during vacations, will come in handy. For example, many contact lens wearers prefer their glasses first thing in the morning before they head out for the day. And if debris or another irritant makes your lenses uncomfortable during the day, you’ll be glad you kept a pair of glasses with you.

Always Wear Sunglasses, Even is With UV-protective Contacts

Even UV-protective contact lenses don’t block all of the UV rays that harm your eyes. Wearing UV-protective sunglasses will help reduce the strain and harm to your eyes and vision. Be sure to tell us about the kinds of outdoor activities you do so we can help assess your exposure risk and recommend the right protection for you.

Only Buy Contact Lenses From Legitimate Sources–and With a Valid Prescription

Any contacts you buy need to be prescribed by a licensed optometrist or ophthalmologist–even lenses without vision correction, such as color contacts or decorative contacts worn for Halloween. In fact, in the U.S., you cannot buy contact lenses without a valid prescription. That’s because contact lenses are considered medical devices. And only a licensed eye care professional can ensure your contacts are medically safe and properly fitted for you.

Remember, taking care of your contacts is essential to taking care of your vision and your eye health.

If you’d like to schedule an appointment to see if contact lenses are right for you, or if you have questions about your current contacts or are experiencing any wearing problems, please give us a call.

Nothing in this article is to be construed as medical advice, nor is it intended to replace the recommendations of a medical professional. For specific questions, please contact our office.

Contact Lens Basics

Contact lenses are an excellent vision correction option for people of all ages. According to data provided by The Vision Council in September 2014, approximately 16 percent of the U.S. population (roughly 39.3 million adults) report wearing contact lenses at least part time.

Recent advances in lens materials and care products have made contact lenses more comfortable than ever. Even people who have had problems wearing contacts in the past often are good candidates for contact lenses today.

Here are the basics you should know about modern contact lenses. For the very latest information, visit your eye care provider for a comprehensive eye exam and contact lens evaluation to see which lenses might be best for you.

Types of Contacts – By Lens Material

Basically, there are three major categories of contact lenses based on the materials they are made of:

Soft Contact Lenses

Also called hydrogel or silicone hydrogel lenses, soft contact lenses are very thin, moist and flexible. The term “hydrogel” is used because they are made of water-absorbing materials that give them a watery, gel-like feel. In fact, roughly 40 to 70 percent of the weight of a soft lens is due to the water it contains. This, combined with the fact that soft lenses are very thin, makes them immediately comfortable and very easy for most people to wear. Approximately 90 percent of contact lenses worn in the U.S. are soft lenses. Most of these are silicone hydrogel lenses, which transmit more oxygen to the surface of the eye than conventional hydrogel lenses.

Rigid Gas Permeable Contact Lenses

Also called GP or RGP lenses, these contacts are made of rigid plastics and often provide sharper, more stable vision than soft lenses. GP contact lenses also enable more oxygen to reach the surface of the eye than many soft lenses, which may decrease the risk of certain contact lens-related eye problems. But because of their rigid nature and thicker profile, GP lenses can take some time to get used to, and some people cannot wear the lenses comfortably. For these reasons, less than 10 percent of contact lenses worn in the U.S. are rigid gas permeable lenses.

Hybrid Contact Lenses

These advanced contact lenses have an optical center made of rigid gas permeable plastic, surrounded by a zone made of soft lens material. This hybrid design provides the sharp optics of a GP contact lens, with wearing comfort that is more comparable to that of soft lenses. But this combination of features also makes hybrid contact lenses significantly more costly to manufacture, causing them to be more expensive than soft lenses or GP lenses. And fitting hybrid lenses can be more challenging and time-consuming than fitting soft or GP lenses. For these reasons, less than 5 percent of contact lens wearers in the U.S. wear hybrid lenses.

Types of Soft Contact Lenses

Within the dominant category of soft contact lenses, there are many types of lenses to choose from to fit your vision correction and lifestyle needs.

Disposable lenses

Most soft contact lenses sold today are disposable lenses: you wear them for a recommended number of days, and then throw them away and replace them with a fresh pair. Most disposable lenses are designed to be discarded and replaced monthly or every two weeks. But there are also daily disposable lenses that are designed to be discarded after being worn only once, eliminating the need for lens care products. Replacing your contacts frequently decreases the risk of lens deposits that can lead to discomfort and eye infections.

Daily wear or extended wear lenses

Daily wear lenses are contacts that must be removed before sleep. Extended wear lenses are contacts that have been approved by the FDA for continuous wear (24 hr/day) for up to 30 days. Wearing contact lenses during sleep — even extended wear lenses designed for this purpose — significantly increases the risk of eye infections. For this reason, most eye doctors recommend daily wear.

Single vision or multifocal lenses

Most contact lens wearers are under age 45 and see well with conventional “single vision” lenses that have the same power for seeing objects at all distances. But for people over age 40 who need a bifocal prescription, there are a variety of multifocal soft contact lenses to eliminate (or significantly reduce) the need for reading glasses. Multifocal contact lenses are available in GP and hybrid lens designs as well.

Toric lenses for astigmatism

Toric soft lenses are hydrogel or silicone hydrogel lenses with a special design that corrects astigmatism as well as nearsightedness or farsightedness. These lenses have two types of lens power — a “sphere” power to correct nearsightedness or farsightedness, and a “cylinder” power to correct astigmatism — and a special design to keep the astigmatism power aligned properly. (GP and hybrid contacts can correct common types of astigmatism without a toric design.)

Color and special-effect lenses

Soft lenses also are available in colors to enhance the color of your eyes or change them from brown to blue, green or a variety of other attractive colors.

For an even more dramatic change in appearance, there also is a wide variety of special-effect soft contact lenses that can make you look like an alien, a vampire, or some other startling creature.

Color and special-effect contact lenses also are available without refractive power for people who don’t need corrective eyewear and simply want to change the appearance of their eyes. Like contact lenses with corrective power, however, contact lenses worn for cosmetic purposes only must be fitted and prescribed by a licensed eye care provider, properly cleaned and stored, and worn and replaced as specified by the prescriber.

Which Contacts Are Best for You?

The first step in determining the best contact lenses for your needs is to have a comprehensive eye exam with your eye care provider. During this exam, your doctor will perform a number of tests that will determine if you are a good candidate for contact lens wear.

In some cases, conditions like dry eyes or allergies must be successfully treated before contact lens wear is recommended. But with today’s modern lens materials and designs — in particular, with the availability of daily disposable contact lenses in several designs, including toric lenses for astigmatism and multifocal lenses for age-related loss of near vision — most people can wear contact lenses successfully, whether it’s for full-time daily wear, for sports and other outdoor activities, or for special occasions.