Contact Lenses Overview – Choose the Right Ones for You
Choosing, wearing and caring for contact lenses are all large and important topics. Contact lenses can make a huge difference to your quality of life. As well as accurately correcting vision problems, contact lenses do not have the practical disadvantages of wearing eyeglasses. Of all Americans who need vision correction, about 20% wear contact lenses every day.
Choosing the type of contact lenses
Unlike eyeglasses, contact lenses do not have to make a fashion statement or suit your face, but there are still choices to be made. Hard contact lenses are known as rigid gas permeable or RGPs. Modern RGP lenses are made of a combination of silicone and fluorine which is slightly more flexible than the old-style polymethyl methacrylate hard lenses, and also allows more air passage. These hard lenses keep their shape better and provide crisp vision although they are not as comfortable to wear as soft lenses. Hard lenses must be worn daily or the eye does not remain acclimatized to them. On the other hand, soft lenses are ultra-comfortable as they are very thin and flexible and contain a high proportion of water for comfort, but they sacrifice a little in quality and crispness of the vision and can easily be damaged.
Choosing the length period of contact lenses
For those who wear hard contact lenses, these long-lasting lenses need to be removed and thoroughly cleaned every night. They can last up to 2 years with correct care and checkups.
Soft contact lenses are much less resilient. They are termed ‘disposable’ and can easily rip or tear. In most cases disposable lenses are worn once then discarded. For those who have allergies, daily disposable contact lenses are the best type to choose. Since they are replaced daily, allergens cannot build up on the the lenses and irritate the eyes.
Some soft disposable contact lenses are termed ‘Extended Wear’ and they can be worn continuously for a prescribed wearing period from 7-30 days. These long-wear lenses are made of a special material, silicone hydrogel, which allows more oxygen penetration than standard soft lenses. They require little or no cleaning as they remain in the eye night and day.
Having chosen the material and the length of wear to suit you, there are various other choice options available. Contact lenses are available with UV protection which may be useful for those who spend a lot of time outdoors. Contact lenses can be supplied with a visibility tint which helps you find the lens if you drop it; however these light tints do not show when worn. Enhancement tints have a translucent tint to enhance your natural eye color. These tints are slightly darker than a visibility tint. A color tint is an even darker, opaque tint which can change the natural color of any eye. Choose from baby blue to violet, golden brown or green, or even special effects like cat eyes. Perhaps the most serviceable tints are light-filtering tints designed for athletes and sports fans. They enhance certain colors and mute others, so they can be helpful in picking out the optic yellow of a tennis ball, for example.
Contact lenses to correct different problems
Contact lenses can be prescribed to correct most common visual problems. Contact lenses can be made to correct farsightedness, nearsightedness and presbyopia. Presbyopia is common in those over the age of 40 when their near sight lengthens as the lens of the eye begins to lose its flexibility. It gradually restricts the ability to focus clearly on close objects. You will notice your vision blurring when reading, sewing, using the computer or doing close work. However, if corrective lenses are not needed full-time and are just required for reading or driving, glasses are a more sensible solution than contact lenses as they can easily to put on and taken off as required.
In some cases more than one correction is required for our eyes, and bifocals or multifocal lenses are prescribed. Even in such a small area of corrective lens this can be done. Bifocals are created by giving long-distance focus in one area of the lens and a near focus in another. Multifocals graduate the requirements for different visual lengths from nearto distance vision over the area of the contact lens.
Astigmatism is another common visual problem. It is caused when the cornea becomes misshaped or elongated and light is no longer clearly focused on one point of the retina, causing sight to be slightly blurred. Lenses which are used to correct this problem are known as toric contact lenses.
Caring for lenses
Whichever type of contact lens you finally decide on, a few common sense rules apply. Never share your lenses with anyone. Clean and care for them meticulously to avoid any eye infections and do not sleep in them unless they are specifically designed to be extended wear lenses.
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