Your eyes say more about you than words ever can. Contact lenses let your eyes shine through, be it your first day at college or your first date. Be it your interview or the beginning of a beautiful relationship called marriage. Your lenses will give you the confidence to perform your best.
Today more and more people enjoy the clear, natural and unobstructed vision offered by contact lenses. New lens designs and materials and advanced care products now make contact lenses more manageable and more comfortable to wear than ever before. They offer freedom from wearing glasses daily, playing a sport, or for that momentous social occasion.
Though there are more than 1000 different types of lenses, they can be broadly classified into five groups based on their material.
Lenses are available as
Non-disposables or reusable, which you replace after one year of use,
Planned replacement – replace as directed by the Eye care practitioner, and
Daily wear – where lenses are worn for all waking hours
Flexible wear – are daily wear with one or two nights of overnight wear
Extended wear – worn continuously for one weekday and night
Continuous wear – constantly worn for one month
Lenses are worn for Optical reasons
To correct the types of refractive errors like
Myopia (minus number), commonly known as short sight and patients have difficulty in focusing for distance,
Hyperopia (plus number), commonly known as long sight, where have difficulty in focusing for near,
Astigmatism (cylindrical powers) – When the eye requires two different powers in two different meridians. This is commonly referred to as the Axis or Cylinder power. World-class lenses are available for these patients.
Presbyopia (40+) Is when there is difficulty in focusing near objects, it is a normal ageing phenomenon. Yes, lenses are now available as Bifocals/Multifocals too. There are many options of correcting the 40+ wearers, like mono-vision where one eye is given full correction, and the other is given lesser power. Thus he sees with both eyes, but one eye sees clearly for distance and the other for near. Enhanced mono-vision, where one eye is given distance lens, and the other is fitted with bifocal contact lens and Bifocal contact lenses in both eyes.
Irregular powers caused due to injuries or some eye diseases where spectacle correction is not possible, contact lenses can turn the irregular cornea into a smooth regular surface by holding the tears in the uneven surface. Thus the vision is improved.
Residual power after refractive surgery can be corrected by using newer generation lens materials.
Contacts are the best corrective options for a high refractive error because they do not cause magnification or minification as in spectacles. They provide the wearer with a realistic view of the surroundings, apart from improving his/her cosmesis.
Therapeutic lenses (as treatment)
Keratoconus, a condition where the cornea becomes conical, can only be given clear vision with contact lenses.
Aniridia, where the natural iris is absent, and hence the light entering in the eye cannot be controlled,
Albinos in whom the melanin pigment is absent, special contacts can significantly improve their quality of life.
Red-green colour blind can be helped by increasing their ability to distinguish between red and green colours using a unique lens for colour blindness.
Bandage lenses are used as a bandage for many eye pathologies that do not heal by a standard pad and bandage processes.
Corneal scars left behind by healing of injured eyes or failed surgery can be hidden very well with prosthetic contacts.
Drug delivery lenses are per-soaked in eye drops and placed on the eye. The lenses then gradually release the eye drops in the eye.
Colour contacts have been in use for a long time to change our eye colour. If Shahrukh Khan can wear it, you too can. After colour, came the patterns wherein you can have cat eyes or a soccer fan can wear a football in his eyes, or wear your heart in your eyes to show your love for him. Rise and shine, they say, well do it literally by wearing glitter contacts in your eyes. Or for a romantic evening with your beloved, capture the moonlight radiance, the warmth of the sun or the freshness of autumn in your eyes.
Who should fit lenses?
Contactologists & Optometrists have special training in the art of fitting all types of Contact lenses. Few Ophthalmologists, who have a special interest in lenses, also fit few types of contact lenses. Optometrists who fit contact lenses need to have four years of clinical institutional training. It is not advisable to buy lenses over the counter as lenses sit very close to your precious pair of eyes.
Before trying contact lenses, you must thoroughly examine your eyes. During the examination, the strength of lenses you will need for clear vision and the health of your eyes will be examined. The quality of your tears – required for lubrication of contact lenses – will also be assessed. The curvature and diameter of the cornea will be measured, together with the size of your pupils and the positions of your eyelids.
Based on this information, the most suitable contact lenses are chosen. Please remember price is not the deciding factor at all. For some, lesser expensive options are better, whereas others may need a premium product. There is no such thing as the best contact lenses.
Care and maintenance
Just like your clothes, lenses need to be washed and disinfected each day. New solutions in the market allow the wearer to clean, rinse, disinfect and remove protein from the lenses with a single bottle solution. So care and maintenance have become simpler than ever. This is an essential step to avoid any unwanted complications of lens wearing.
Life of lenses
No contact lens pair will last for a lifetime. Every soft Contact Lens is made from non-living, thin, delicate membranes exposed to pollution, rubbed and cleaned with soapy chemicals every day. The contact lens surface will degrade over some time and become harmful for our precious pair of eyes.
Only the qualified Contact Lens practitioner will be able to notice even the slightest change in your eyes and or contact lenses. If this change is rectified at the earliest, you have minimal chances of developing any complications.
Contact lenses can be worn throughout our life without any harmful effects only if a qualified Eye Care practitioner dispenses them.
Just like walking on the road carries a slight chance of an accident, contact lens wear also carries a risk of allergy, infection and other problems in the eye, though fortunately, very rare. Few complications may be potentially sight-threatening.
Adherence to the instructions given, replacing the lens periodically and follow-up visits for all contact lens wearers every six months or as recommended is a must for safe lens wear. Never share your lenses or eye make up with anyone. This can lead to contamination and complications. When wearing lenses, use water-based makeup, which should be frequently replaced and disinfect lenses after each wear. Never take lens maintenance lightly.
Old users tend to ignore this essential Lens care routine, as FAMILIARITY BREEDS CONTEMPT.
Newer trends: The lenses would be selenium coated. This anti-bacterial coating will reduce the bacterial contamination of lenses, making them even safer to wear.
We usually wear lenses during the daytime; an exception is Orthokeratology, where lenses are worn at night while sleeping. During sleep, the lenses gently reshape the eye curvature and correct the power temporarily. This effect will last for all waking hours the next day, so there is no need to wear lenses during the daytime. One of the problems with earlier generation lenses was the significantly less permeability to oxygen. Then came the oxygen permeable lenses, followed by high oxygen lenses and now silicone. Silicone provides the maximum oxygen to the eyes, much more than required. There is no such thing a permanent contacts.