Sometimes, people prefer not to wear eyeglasses, whether they find them uncomfortable or just don't like the way they look in them. Contact lenses are a popular alternative when it comes to vision correction.
Contact Lens Materials
Contact lenses can come in three different types of materials. The first type is referred to as hard lenses and are made from Plexiglas or Lucite. This lens type is rarely used today.
RGP contact lenses, or rigid gas permeable lenses, are a more commonly used form of rigid lenses. They are made from rigid, waterless plastics that allow oxygen to pass through the lens and reach the eye to increase comfort during wear and increase eye health. RGP lenses are effective for presbyopia correction as well as high amounts of astigmatism.
Soft lenses are the most widely used lens form today. They are made from gel-like plastics containing water and are generally a bit larger than the size of your iris.
Caring For Your Lenses
Properly cleaning and storing your lenses is extremely important for contact lens wearers. Not cleaning lenses thoroughly or wearing them past their recommended wearing period can cause infection and irritation such as a corneal ulcer. Ulcers, and other complications, often include redness, pain, and mild to possibly severe discharge similar to pink eye symptoms.
One aspect of wearing contacts is knowing your recommended wear period for the type of lens you have been prescribed. Wear periods vary and will determine how you should care for your type of lens. Daily disposable lenses, for example, are inserted in the morning and removed before sleep. They don't require cleaning as they can be discarded after each use. Extended wear contacts can be worn for much longer periods of time. These lenses require cleaning and proper storage between uses and some can last as long as 30 days before requiring replacement.
Contact Lenses for Specific Conditions
Some contact lenses are designed with a certain condition or conditions in mind:
- Toric contacts are made to correct astigmatism. The difference with torics is the shape of the lens which has two curvature angles. One is for correcting astigmatism and the other is for either myopia (nearsightedness) or hyperopia (farsightedness, depending on the type of correction you require.
- Orthokeratology, also called ortho-k, lenses are meant to be worn at night. They are designed to reshape the cornea while you sleep in order to correct nearsightedness. The correction is only temporary but is usually enough to get you through the day.
- Bifocal contact lenses are just like bifocal glasses. A portion of the lens is aimed at correcting near vision and another for distance.
- Contact lenses for dry eyes can help those who feel that contacts make their eyes feel dry. The reality with this condition is that each persons experience is different so there is no one lens that will cure your dry eyes. However, certain lenses can help relieve the dryness through varying water contents in the lens, using the right cleaning solution, or certain types of eye drops.
Custom and Specialty Lenses
If you have found that conventional contact lenses weren't an option for you in the past you may want to check with your optometrist again. It is possible that you could have custom contact lenses made to work around what was keeping you from wearing conventional contacts in the past.
Contact lenses offer a level of customization that isn't available with any other form of vision correction. With colored contacts you are able to determine the color of your eyes. Depending on how light or dark your natural eye color is, you can either choose to enhance the tint of your eye or change your color altogether.
Similar to colored lenses, theatrical contact lenses can give you a new look. These contacts come with special designs and can complete your costume. While these lenses are often used for holidays, plays or movie costumes they still must be ordered with a prescription from your eye doctor like regular contact lenses.