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Wearing Contact Lenses: Types, Care & Tips

Contact lenses are a popular and convenient alternative to glasses, providing clear vision without changing your appearance or blocking your view.
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With millions of people worldwide using them for vision correction, cosmetic purposes, or both, contact lenses are widely embraced. 

Whether you’re new to contacts or a seasoned wearer, understanding the different types, proper care, and essential tips for contacts can greatly enhance your experience and maintain your eye health.

Types of contact lenses

When choosing contact lenses, it’s important to consider the several types available, each designed to meet specific needs and preferences. Knowing which type suits you best is crucial for comfort and vision quality.

Soft contact lenses

Soft contact lenses are made from hydrogel or silicone hydrogel materials. They are known for their comfort and flexibility, making them a popular choice for many users. 

  • Hydrogel lenses are gel-like and water-containing, which allows them to fit snugly on the eye and provide excellent comfort. 
  • Silicone hydrogel lenses, on the other hand, offer even higher oxygen permeability, which is essential for long-term wear and eye health. These lenses are ideal if you have dry or sensitive eyes, as they help maintain moisture.
  • Soft contact lenses come in various wearing schedules, including daily disposable, weekly, biweekly, and monthly lenses. 
  • Daily disposables are convenient because you wear them once and discard them, eliminating the need for cleaning and storage.
  • Weekly and biweekly lenses offer a balance between convenience and cost, while monthly lenses are economical for frequent wearers but require diligent cleaning and care.

Rigid gas permeable (RGP) lenses

Rigid Gas Permeable (RGP) lenses are made from durable materials that allow oxygen to pass through to the eye. These lenses provide sharp, clear vision, especially for those with astigmatism or severe refractive errors. 

RGP lenses maintain their shape on the eye, ensuring consistent vision correction. Although they require an adaptation period, many users find them comfortable after getting used to them. 

One of the advantages of RGP lenses is their longevity and resistance to protein deposits, making them easier to maintain with regular cleaning.

Hybrid contact lenses

Hybrid contact lenses combine the best features of RGP and soft lenses. They have a rigid gas-permeable center that provides clear vision and a soft lens skirt for comfort. 

These lenses are particularly beneficial if you have strong astigmatism or find RGP lenses uncomfortable. However, hybrid lenses can be more expensive and require a more precise fitting process.

Scleral lenses

Scleral lenses are large-diameter RGP lenses that rest on the white part of the eye (sclera) rather than the cornea. This design creates a space between the lens and the cornea, which is filled with saline solution. 

Scleral lenses are ideal for individuals with keratoconus, severe dry eyes, or other corneal irregularities. They provide excellent comfort and vision but require specialized fitting and maintenance.

Special contact lens types

In addition to the standard categories, there are special types of contact lenses designed to address specific vision problems or cosmetic preferences.

Toric lenses

Toric lenses are designed for astigmatism, a condition caused by an irregular curvature of the cornea. These lenses have different powers in different meridians of the lens to correct astigmatism effectively. 

Proper fitting is crucial for toric lenses, as an incorrect fit can lead to blurred vision. Your eye care professional will help you choose the right toric lens based on your specific needs.

Multifocal and bifocal lenses

If you have presbyopia, an age-related condition that affects your near vision, multifocal or bifocal lenses can be beneficial. Multifocal lenses have multiple prescriptions on a single lens, allowing you to see clearly at various distances. 

Bifocal lenses have two distinct areas for distance and near vision. These lenses eliminate the need for reading glasses and provide a seamless transition between different focal points.

Cosmetic and decorative lenses

Colored contact lenses can enhance or completely change your eye color. These lenses are available in prescription and non-prescription forms. 

While cosmetic lenses can be fun, it’s important to follow proper care guidelines and use them responsibly. Always obtain colored lenses from a reputable source and with a valid prescription to avoid potential eye health issues.

Contact lens care and maintenance

Proper care and maintenance of your contact lenses are essential for preventing eye infections and ensuring comfortable wear. Here are some important contact lens care tips:

Always wash your hands with soap and water before handling your lenses. Dry them with a lint-free towel to avoid transferring debris to your eyes. When inserting or removing lenses, work in a clean, well-lit area to reduce the risk of contamination.

For daily disposable lenses, discard them after each use. For lenses that require cleaning and storage, use only the solutions recommended by your eye care professional. Avoid using tap water or saliva, as these can introduce harmful microorganisms.

Rub and rinse your lenses with the cleaning solution, even if it’s labeled as no-rub. This extra step helps remove protein deposits and debris. Store your lenses in a clean case filled with fresh solution. Replace the case every three months to minimize the risk of infection.

Handling tips for contact lenses

Inserting and removing contact lenses can be challenging at first, but with practice, it becomes easier. Here are some essential tips for contacts to help you do it safely

To insert your lenses, begin by washing your hands thoroughly. Place the lens on the tip of your index finger and check that it’s not inside out. 

Use your other hand to hold your upper eyelid to prevent blinking, then gently place the lens on your eye. Blink a few times to help it settle in place.

For removing lenses, start by washing your hands again. Pull down your lower eyelid with your middle finger and gently pinch the lens with your index finger and thumb. 

If necessary, slide the lens down to the white part of your eye before removing it. If you experience any discomfort or difficulty, consult your eye care professional for personalized contact lens care tips and to ensure you’re using the correct technique.

Tips for contact lens wearers

When choosing contact lenses, it’s essential to consider your lifestyle, vision needs, and preferences. Consulting with an eye care professional will help you find the best type for you. They can recommend lenses based on your eye health, daily activities, and any specific conditions you have.

Safety is paramount when using contact lenses. Avoid exposing your lenses to water, whether swimming, showering, or using a hot tub. Water can introduce harmful microorganisms to your eyes. Always wash your hands before handling lenses and avoid touching your eyes with dirty hands.

Traveling with contact lenses requires some planning. Carry enough lenses, solution, and a backup pair of glasses. If you’re flying, keep your essentials in your carry-on bag to avoid losing them in checked luggage. Maintain your cleaning routine even when on the go to prevent infections.

Conclusion

Contact lenses offer a convenient and effective way to correct your vision without the need for glasses. 

By understanding the different types available and following proper contact lens care practices, you can enjoy the benefits of contacts safely and comfortably. 

Always consult with an eye care professional when choosing contact lenses and address any issues promptly to maintain your eye health. 

With the right care and tips, you can make the most of your contact lens experience and enjoy clear vision every day.

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