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Contact Lenses

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Like the name suggests contact lenses are thin, transparent, curved lens that can be placed on the surface of the eye. Contact lenses were initially designed to correct eyesight problems but have today evolved to be even cosmetic in nature. For people who want to correct their issues around vision, contact lenses are an affordable, simple and effective choice. Millions of people around the world prefer to wear contact lenses every day. The lenses themselves have evolved over the years and today’s lenses cause little or no discomfort to the person wearing it.

When it comes to correcting problems related to eyesight, contact lenses can be used to treat various problems like myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), astigmatism and relatively rare conditions like keratoconus. There are generally two types of contact lenses - soft and rigid gas permeable (RGP) and an individual needs to figure out what lenses suit the best.


Lenses vs glasses

Lenses have several advantages over the glasses and relatively few disadvantages. The biggest disadvantage that contact lenses suffer from is that they need considerable effort to maintain. One has to be careful against dust and dirt when it comes to contact lenses and also go through exhaustive Do’s and Don’ts when it comes to lenses. However, the advantages of contact lenses far outshines its drawback. 

Firstly glasses may not be able to ideal for all types of vision problems. On the other hand lenses can solve almost all problems related to vision. Conditions like keratoconus can only be cured through lenses. Lenses are also great for sports and outdoor activities. Since it sits on the cornea of the eye it significantly reduces the risk of causing injury when playing a sport.

One of the biggest advantages of lenses is that it does not change a person’s appearance. Glasses tend to alter how a person looks and may not look good on everyone. The frame of the glass also put an unnecessary pressure on the face. Lenses on the other hand are discreet and do not change the looks. On the other hand cosmetic lenses are used extensively to enhance a person’s look and liven up their eyes.

There are other disadvantages of glasses like they tend to get fogged out with change in temperatures, reduce visibility in rains, obstruct in driving at night and also suffers from poor peripheral vision. Lenses on the other hand suffer from none of these problems.  


Why should we use contact lenses?

Contact lenses are prescribed by a doctor to correct problems associated with eye-sight and is great in reducing refractive error of the eye. While almost all types of vision problems can be corrected by lenses, certain problems like myopia and hyperopia are best corrected by lenses. Other problems like astigmatism, which is blurred vision due to the abnormal shape of the cornea and presbyopia, which is inability to see close up are also effectively cured by contact lenses. 


Types of lenses:

Rigid Gas Permeable (RGP) – Rigid Gas Permeable (RGP) lenses are hard lenses that allow oxygen to pass through to the eye and are known to provide a clear and a sharp vision. This type of lenses lasts longer and is usually easier to maintain. It is also cheaper compared to soft lenses. RGP lenses are particularly effective in treating cases of myopia. On the flip side these lenses take a longer duration to get used to and an individual may have irritation in their eyes for a longer time when compared to soft lenses. RGP lenses also tend to be dislodged easily from the eye.

Soft Lenses – These lenses were invested in the 1960s but did not find acceptance immediately. However, over the years several developments have taken place to make soft contact lenses a preferred method of correcting vision problems. These lenses contain a gel like material and are placed on top of the entire cornea. Soft lenses today contain silicone-hydrogels and like RGP these lenses are also porous and allow oxygen to reach the eye. Soft lenses are easier to get used to and cause little irritation of the eye. Unlike RGP lenses, soft lenses stick better to the eye and does not dislodge easily, making it a good alternative for sportsmen. However, soft lenses need to be handled with care and takes more effort to maintain.


Risks with contact lenses

Contact lenses are not free from risks. The foremost risk comes from poor air quality or an environment that is dusty. In such cases there maybe discomfort in wearing lenses. If there is n underlying eye disease, lenses may also aggravate the issue. Despite the advances in contact lenses technology, it is a foreign body that is introduced into the eye. This means there is always a risk of developing allergy or infection. Most allergy or infection caused by contact lenses affect the conjunctiva of the eye. 

There is also the risk of corneal ulcer that is generally caused bacterial infection of the eye. Lenses are known to cause such ulcers that result in red and very painful eyes. Other risks of using contact lenses include a condition called corneal warpage that refers to the alteration in the shape of the cornea and corneal edema that leads to swelling of the eye. Contact lenses are also not suitable when a person suffers from dry eye as lenses need plenty of lubrication.


Contact lens care

As far as possible try not to sleep with your contact lenses on. It increases the chance of infection. 

  • Buy reliable, good and lenses that are only prescribed by doctors. Do not go for cheap substitutes. 
  • Never exchange your contact lenses with anyone or wear someone else’s lenses.
  • Ensure that your hands are clean before touching the lenses. 
  • Clean your lenses regularly in prescribed solutions. Do not use tap water to clean your lenses. 
  • Store lenses away from dirt and dust. Lenses should always be kept in their designated case
  • Make sure you use a protein remover to remove build up of protein on your lenses.
  • Do not use contact lenses while swimming or when in bath tub 
  • Do not use contact lenses beyond their recommended wearing period.  
  • To keep your eyes hydrated you may use contact lens eye drops. 
  • Get regular eye examination done with your ophthalmologist.

Written by: healthplus24.com team
Date last updated: October 03, 2013