Contact Lenses

Contact lenses remain an excellent alternative for many people. For years it was thought that contact lenses were just a cosmetic alternative to glasses. However, contact lenses provide superior vision in so many other ways. With contact lenses you are always looking through the center of the optics, whereas in glasses as soon as you swing your eyes to the side or up or down, you introduce distortions of many sorts. You have gotten used to those but they do require your brain to work a bit to know exactly where things are and what size they are. You may recall the label on some of the mirrors on cars that state, "This are closer than they appear." Well this is going on with glasses all the time, to a different degree with every prescription. This is why, when you got new glasses, there was an adjustment period.

With contact lenses this is different. Objects appear their actual size and in their proper place. Straight lines are straight. Things don't move as you turn your head. Also, contact lenses help the system that coordinates how you use your two eyes together work much more efficiently. So don't keep thinking that contact lenses are just for cosmetic purposes.

Contact Lenses as a Tool to Slow Down Myopia Progression

Gas permeable contact lenses also have a major positive benefit when fit to young patients with progressive or sometimes called school myopia (nearsightedness). These lenses can, by themselves, stop the progression of myopia. These lenses have to be fit following certain specific protocol to be successful and this is exactly what we do here. Even when both parents are quite nearsighted, if we get involved early enough, we can prevent most of the development of the myopia in the developing child.

I am often asked if children can wear contact lenses and at what age can they begin. My answer always hinges on the child's personal hygiene. If they are taking care of themselves well, then there is no reason that they cannot take care of contact lenses. We have been successful with 8 and 9-year olds.

Monovision

Presbyopia is the condition where as we age we are not able to shift our focusing system as easily as we did before. Generally, by our early or mid 40's reading glasses are needed. For some this means bifocals, trifocals or progressive lenses. One way to deal with this has been to use contact lenses in a unique way called monovision. In monovision, we select one eye to be the leader for distance tasks and one eye to be the leader for near tasks. When successful, the brain learns to shift which eye leads at different distances. Generally, this take about 7-10 days. There are many bonuses when this works such as: no need for glasses except for sun, the ability to read or work with near tasks in any gaze (think of hanging wall paper or "cutting in" at the top edge of the wall), which just does not work with typical reading glasses. If you would like to try to see if you can use monovision I would be glad to give you the chance to try.

Extended/Continuous Wear

New lenses have recently been developed, namely the Ciba Night & Day lenses that allow for up to one-month continuous wear safely and comfortably. These lenses are based on a different compound which passes up to five times more gasses to and from the cornea than the next best soft contact lens on the market.

Contact Lens Care

Taking good care of your contact lens is critically important in maintaining your healthy eyes and vision. The following lens care guide appeared in the April 16, 2007 edition of the American Optometric Association News.

  • Always wash your hands before handling your contact lenses.
  • Rub and rinse the surface of the contact lens before storing.
  • Use only the sterile products I recommended to clean and disinfect your lenses. Saline solution and rewetting drops are not designed to disinfect lenses.
  • Avoid using tap water to wash or store contact lenses.
  • Contact lens solution must be discarded upon opening the case, and fresh solution used each time the lens is placed in the case.
  • Replace lenses using your doctor's prescribed schedule.
  • Do not sleep in contact lenses unless prescribed by your doctor and never after swimming.
  • Never swap lenses with someone else.
  • Never put contact lenses in your mouth.
  • See your optometrist regularly for contact lens evaluations (I like to see my contact lens patients once every six months: alternating yearly check up (60 minute appointment) with a half/year visit (15 minute appointment).
  • If you experience any redness, secretions or vision blurring or pain, take out your lenses and give the office a call.
  • If in doubt, take it out!