Eyecare Specialties of Northwest Colorado
Contact lenses: an introduction
Having made great technological advances in comfort, durability and vision improvement, today's contact lenses can be worn by almost everyone. The doctors at Eyecare Specialties are dedicated to staying up-to-speed with this ever-changing technology and can help even the most hard-to-fit contact lens wearer. If you were told in the past that you can't wear contact lenses, it's time to try again.
Some of the types of contact lenses we prescribe include:
- lenses for nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism
- multi-focal lenses
- lenses for treating conditions such as keratoconus
- mono-vision contact lenses
- soft and gas permeable lenses
- SynergEyes hybrid (combination soft and rigid) lenses
- One-day disposable lenses
- Extended-wear lenses
Contact lenses are specifically fit to the cornea of each individual's eye. Because they are considered a medical device, federal law requires a prescription to dispense contact lenses. Complications can occur with improper contact lens use, so the federal government madates that contact lens prescriptions expire after one year, at which time another examination is required.
At your initial examination, your doctor will gather information and choose a lens that will be compatible with your eyes. The doctor's challenge is to determine which lens will fit the size and curvature of your cornea, keep deposit buildup to a minimum, and allow for a sufficient oxygen supply.
Hundreds of different, technologically advanced plastic materials are used in the production of both rigid and soft lenses. A contact lens prescription is written for a specific brand, diameter, curvature and corrective prescription. Because of the different materials and parameters used, one brand is not interchangeable with another. Also, a person's contact lens prescription is almost always different from his or her eyeglass prescription.
Are contacts for you?
The vast majority of people requiring vision correction can wear contact lenses without any problems. New materials and lens care technologies have made today's contacts more comfortable, safer and easier to wear.
Consider the questions and answers below to help assess whether contacts are a choice you should consider.
How do contact lenses correct vision?
Contact lenses are designed to rest on the cornea, the clear outer surface of the eye. They are held in place mainly by adhering to the tear film that covers the front of the eye and, to a lesser extent, by pressure from the eyelids.
As the eyelids blink, they glide over the surface of the contact lens and cause it to move slightly. This movement allows the tears to provide necessary lubrication to the cornea and helps flush away debris between the cornea and the contact lens.
Contact lenses are optical medical devices, primarily used to correct nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism and presbyopia. In these conditions, light is not focused properly on the retina, the layer of nerve endings in the back of the eye that converts light to electrochemical impulses. When light is not focused properly on the retina, blurred or imperfect vision results.
When in place on the cornea, the contact lens functions as the initial optical element of the eye. The optics of the contact lens combine with the optics of the eye to properly focus light on the retina. The result is clear vision.
Under what conditions can contact lens wear be difficult?
- Your eyes are severely irritated by allergies.
- You work in an environment with lots of dust and chemicals.
- You have an overactive thyroid, uncontrolled diabetes, or severe arthritis in your hands.
- Your eyes are overly dry due to pregnancy, certain medications you are taking, or other reasons.
After a thorough eye examination, the doctor will determine whether you are a suitable candidate for contact lenses, and if so, which contact lens option best meets your requirements.
What are the advantages of wearing contact lenses?
- Many wearers simply don't like the appearance, weight and bulk of eyeglasses and feel that contact lenses show them in a more natural-looking light.
- Without the visual obstruction of eyeglass frames, some wearers feel they see better.
- Contact lenses provide excellent peripheral vision.
- Contact lenses do not fog up.
- They don't get in the way during sports and other recreational activities.
What are the disadvantages?
- Contact lenses require an adjustment period. New soft lens wearers typically adjust to their lenses within days. Rigid lenses generally require a somewhat longer adjustment period.
- Except for disposable one-day varieties, almost all lenses require regular cleaning and disinfection. This cleaning process, while brief and simple, is unappealing to some people.
- Some types of lenses increase your eyes' sensitivity to light.
Do contact lenses fit with your style of work and play?
For sports and recreational enthusiasts, contact lenses offer a number of advantages. In addition to providing unobstructed peripheral vision, eliminating the problem of fogged or rain splattered eyeglass lenses, and freeing you from the fear of breaking your glasses, contact lenses allow you to also wear non-prescription protective eye wear, such as sunglasses or sports goggles.
As you look out the sides of your eyeglasses, prismatic effects can cause distortion. Your eyes have to coordinate differently to adjust to this distortion. Distortion does not occur with contact lenses because you always look through the centers of the lenses as they move with your eye movements.
Your occupation and work environment should also be taken into consideration. People whose work requires good peripheral vision may want to consider contacts. Those who work in a dusty environment or where chemicals are in heavy use, on the other hand, are likely to find spectacles more comfortable.
No longer is it really necessary to choose between either contacts or glasses. Most of today's contacts are so easy to wear that you can use them intermittently -- for special occasions, while participating in sports or to match your fashions.
New single-use, one-day disposable lenses are comfortable and do not require cleaning. They may be easily interchanged with glasses.
If you are interested in trying contact lenses, the doctors at Eyecare Specialties would be happy to explain your options, answer your questions and help you find the best contact lens option for your eyes. Call today and schedule an appointment. Our office contact information is listed under the Locations tab, left.