What are the different types of contact lenses?
Soft contact lenses
These lenses allow oxygen to pass to your eyes. There are daily replaceable and extended-wear versions available.
The benefit of soft contact lenses is that they are usually comfortable to wear almost immediately. They are also difficult to dislodge and great for active lifestyles.
Hard contact lenses
Also known as rigid gas permeable (RPG) lenses - are made from durable plastic and allow the transfer of oxygen to the eye.
Their rigidity means that often these type of lenses provide sharper improvements to vision than soft lenses.
Single vision lenses
These lenses have one prescription across the entire lens. Usually prescribed to improve your vision for a specific task, for instance long distance vision difficulty.
Sometimes people are prescribed a different single vision lens for each eye. One will be for distance vision and the other for near vision. This is known as a monovision solution.
Multifocal contact lenses have a few advantages that glasses may not have:
- No blurry side vision: When focusing on close objects, progressive glasses can cause blurred side vision, whereas multifocal contacts provide clear side vision.
- Easy to use: To read while wearing progressive glasses, you may need to angle your head downwards. Multifocal contacts allow you to read comfortably without dropping your head and offer a bigger reading area.
- Reading above your head: With multifocal contact lenses, reading text that is above head level is significantly easier.
- No fingerprints: Contact lenses may be easier to care foron a daily basis than glasses, especially if you don’t like fingerprints on your lenses. Contact lenses only need to be cleaned twice a day, whereas glasses need to be cleaned several times per day.
- No distortions: Straight lines can sometimes appear curved when wearing multifocal glasses. Multifocal contact lenses rarely cause vision distortion.
- Computer work: If you use a computer, multifocal contact lenses may be more comfortable than progressive glasses since you can view the screen while maintaining a natural head and neck position.
- Lifestyle and sports: Multifocal contact lenses, rather than spectacles, may be better suited to an active lifestyle, especially if you enjoy contact or extreme sports.
Traditionally multifocal glasses have been the solution for older people, but younger people who may be suffering from digital eye strain could be prescribed multifocal contact lenses as part of the treatment solution for digital eye strain.
The adjustment period can range anywhere from a week to two months. Your eyes will adjust faster if you wear your lenses as much as possible. While adjusting to the lenses, some individuals have eye strain and headaches, so talk to your optometrist about any symptoms you’re experiencing.
Both multifocal glasses and multifocal contact lenses have advantages and disadvantages, and your optometrist can help you determine which is best for your eyes and lifestyle.
Sleeping in lenses
Did you accidentally leave your lenses in overnight?
Even if you fall asleep for only a short while with your lenses in, you may find they have become stuck to the surface of your eye - especially if you are dehydrated, eg after drinking alcohol.
Never attempt to remove the lenses if they do not come out easily. Instead, blink and apply lens comfort drops (if you have them) until your eye surface becomes moister. You may have to leave your lenses in for a while until they rehydrate. The lenses will then become mobile again and you will be able to remove them.
Once you get them out, avoid cleaning and reinserting them. Put them in their case with solution and use your glasses for the rest of the day. This will give your eyes a chance to restore their moisture balance.
If nothing works and you're still struggling to take your contacts out, call your optometrist.
If you have any persistent discomfort or redness see your optometrist as soon as possible.
Wearing your contacts to bed on a regular basis can be dangerous to your eyesight. Contacts can get dirty and harm your eyes, no matter how careful you are. Bacteria can multiply and cause an inflammation of the eyes known as keratitis.
Continuous wear lenses
If your work or lifestyle requires you to wear your lenses for long periods - and even to sleep in them - there is a lens type that is designed to be worn this way - the continuous wear lens. Ask your optometrist whether this type of lens is suitable for your eyes.
These lenses are thinner than daily use lenses and allow more oxygen through to your eyes.
Continuous wear contacts do have to be taken out – they cannot be worn 24/7.
It's a good idea to sleep without them at least once a week. Allowing your eyes to breathe without any barriers can give you more comfort and less chance of infections.