Although it’s unlikely that demand for traditional glasses will ever disappear altogether (after all, they’re stylish, comfortable, and convenient), contact lenses have been popular for decades and continue to be a great choice for eyewear. From typical prescription options to ones that change the color of the eye, to futuristic “smart” lenses—contacts have come a long way since 1888!
Contact lenses are a great alternative to wearing glasses for many people because they offer a lot of flexibility. You can wear your non-prescription sunglasses, goggles, helmets, headbands, or other kinds of eyewear over your contacts. People with contact lenses don’t have to worry about glasses slipping off or getting knocked off by physical activity. Plus, contacts don’t fog up and won’t produce a glare in photos. Unless you’re up close to someone, you can’t even tell they’re wearing them.
There is a wide variety of contact lenses available to fit most people. Advances in recent years have created many options with cool features perfectly suited to a range of prescription types and eyewear needs.
Toric lenses are used for people with astigmatism (irregular curvature of the eye). The way that toric contacts work is they have different powers at various places on the lens and they stay in place on the eye with a weighted section so that they don’t rotate. Unlike a regular prescription contact lens that can rotate and give consistently clear vision, the toric lenses have to stay in one position. Most wearers will never notice the weighted section. Usually, the “weight” is just a tiny line in the lens, adding a small amount of material to orient the lens. With the lens on your fingertip up to the light, you may be able to see the line, but it is imperceptible when the contact lens is in place on your eye.
Gas permeable lenses are not soft and flexible like the ones most people imagine when they think of contact lenses. The rigid lenses still have breathability for air to reach your eye, but they are rigid. By keeping their perfectly rounded shape, the lenses can help give clear vision to people with astigmatism. The downside is that some people find them hard to become accustomed to wearing because they feel the lens more than they feel soft lenses. Scleral contact lenses blend the vision of a gas permeable lens with the comfort of a soft contact lens. These lenses work to provide a new ocular surface in the case of an irregular front surface of the eye, or cornea. This irregularity can arise for many reasons, ranging from trauma to disease, even keratoconus or high astigmatism.
Another type of gas permeable lens is called Orthokeratology or Ortho-K; these lenses serve to give daytime freedom from glasses and contact lenses at any age. Compared to Lasik, Ortho-K is reversible and does not carry the side effects or risks that any surgical procedure does. Some such side effects are discussed in the New York Times article titled “Blurred Vision, Burning Eyes: This Is a Lasik Success?” published June 11, 2018. Another wonderful use of these lenses is to reduce myopic, or nearsighted, progression in children or adolescents by myopia control. The more myopic a person becomes, the greater the chance of that individual developing glaucoma, cataract, or having a retinal detachment or tear! If as a parent remember all the years you were told that your prescription increased every year, Ortho-K lenses and myopia control will serve to arrest that prescription growth.
People who need reading glasses or progressive lenses can benefit from bifocal and multifocal lenses. These are designed for those who require more than one prescription in the same lens—a common need among people over forty due to common age-related vision loss is known as presbyopia.
Since its now August, Halloween is in the not so distant future. Have you finalized your costume plans yet? Perhaps a pair of properly fitting cosmetic contact lenses will take your costume from good to absolutely spellbinding! Of course, a prescription set would provide glasses-free clarity the throughout All Hallows Eve, to keep you from bumping into the little ghouls & goblins on the sidewalks.
While discussing contact lenses, it is important to consider that all contacts are a medical device that comes in contact with the cornea. Therefore, the contact lens fit, shape, size, and breathability will greatly determine the overall health and well being of the eyes. The only way to ensure that an optimum fit is continually achieved is by regular contact lens and eye examinations. If the prices seem to good to be true, the lenses advertised are likely a much older contact lens material that has been replaced with more breathable, comfortable materials, there have even been documented cases where unfortunately lenses have been found to be counterfeit. Always be sure to obtain your lenses from a reputable source, each contact lens prescription is brand specific due to the different fit qualities of each manufacturer.
Conditions such as keratoconus, dry eyes, giant papillary conjunctivitis, post-refractive surgery (such as LASIK), and presbyopia can make contact lens fitting more difficult, but most people are able to find contact lenses to comfortably fit their eyes and needs. If you want to try contact lenses, talk to any of our doctors at Perspective Eye Center. Drs. Gross and Enfinger are trained in any of the specialty contact lenses discussed, in addition to myopia control.