Getting Started with Contact Lenses

The first successful contact lens fitting was in 1888 and was made out of blown glass. As you may imagine, they were not that comfortable or safe! Fortunately, technology has vastly improved contact lenses and their popularity is rising rapidly.

What are Contact Lenses?

A contact lens is a thin piece of material that sits on the front of your eye and corrects your vision. Most contact lenses are soft and flexible. There are a few harder and rigid versions, which are generally prescribed for more complicated prescriptions and eye conditions. The majority of people nowadays use soft lenses.

How do they work?

The principle of correcting vision with contact lenses is exactly the same as glasses. The lenses in your glasses bends light into your eye to help focus it more accurately on your retina, making objects appear clearer.

Contact lenses work similarly to glasses, by correcting refractive errors which helps you to see better. However unlike glasses, they sit on your eye rather than in front.

You may notice that the prescription for your contact lenses differs from your normal glasses. This is because of where the light begins to bend or refract. As your glasses sit in front of your eye, the refraction length is longer than a contact lens. Therefore, your optometrist may need to adapt the prescription to reflect this difference in position.

What are they made of?

Thankfully, we are long past the days of using glass for contact lenses. The most common materials for lenses are silicones or Hydrogels. Often, these materials are used in tandem.

Your eyes need two things to stay healthy. They need to absorb oxygen and stay hydrated. Silicone Hydrogels allow the eye to stay lubricated whilst also allowing a flow of oxygen.

What types of lenses are there?

There are three main types of lenses.

  • Dailies
  • 2 Weekly
  • Monthly

Dailies are lenses that have a one time use and after which should be disposed of. They are one of the most convenient contact lenses as there is no maintenance. If you need contact lenses for occasional wear, such as for sports or special occasions, then DaIlies are your perfect option. They are also a great full time wear option.

2 weekly lenses are lenses that you reuse for a period of two weeks before you throw them away. When you are not using them they are stored in a solution to keep them moist and clean. The solution will need to be replenished every day.

Monthly lenses are similar to the 2 weeklies but can be used for up to month. There is a small amount of maintenance involved as you will need to use solution each night to store them in.

How long can I wear my contacts for?

If you are unsure about the length of time you should be wearing your contact lenses then please contact your optometrist as they will be able to advise you.

If your eyes become painful or sore, remove your contact lenses and contact your optometrist as soon as possible. It is worth noting that contact lenses may take some getting use to if you don’t wear them regularly, but they should not cause any immense discomfort.

More often than not contact lenses are not to be slept in. There are a few lenses that allow continual use even through the night, such as Overnight Vision Correction lenses. Sleeping in lenses that are not designed for that purpose can cause some nasty eye conditions that we would all want to avoid.

What is the process for getting Contact lenses?

Firstly you will need an in date, standard glasses prescription. Most Eye exams are due every 2 years unless your optometrist says otherwise. The Contact lens prescription requires an additional/specific test and are due every year. Please be advised that if either of these exams are out of date, your opticians will not be able to provide you with Contact lenses under any circumstances.

You are not automatically suitable for all lens types as this will largely depend on your prescription, shape and size of your eye.

Once the optometrist has completed the test they will advise on which contact lens you are suitable for. They will then issue you with some ‘trials’. You will then be taught how to insert and remove the lenses as well as being advised on some do’s and don’ts. This section will usually take around 20 minutes.Once you are confident you will be able to take the trail lenses home and test them out for a week or so.

After the trial is complete you will need to return to the opticians for one final test. This test is more about making sure the lenses are sitting comfortably, checking vision and clarity and answering any questions you may have.

Once this is completed you will be able to purchase your specific lens type as you like until your next appointment in a years time.