Contact lenses are primarily of two broad types, the conventional range of semi–soft, rigid gas permeable (RGP) lenses and soft lenses, and those that belong to the disposable range. The new generation contact lenses are made from a special polymer which lets oxygen through and allows the cornea to breathe. Of the conventional type, the soft lenses are more flexible and comfortable to wear. Besides, it doesn’t give the wearer a foreign body sensation or shift frequently over the pupil.
“It covers the total cornea of the eye, ensures more water content, presents more movement and oxygen permeability to the sensitive organ”, Reddy points out. The latter qualities are more apparent in soft, disposable contact lenses. The disposable variety not only provides better ocular value to the user, but also needs no maintenance and is available in convenient durations ranging from daily, weekly, fortnightly, monthly to even quarterly. The life span of conventional lenses is one year, and as for soft lenses it’s four years (in case of RGP lenses).
Since the RPG lenses are worn for longer periods, they need to be polished once in every six months, reveals Reddy. As a general rule, the refractive error stabilizes around the age of 18 to 20 years, after which it may increase by 0.5 D every six months. Contact lenses are available for numbers ranging from +8D to–20D, even–23D. “Anyone who doesn’t want to wear spectacles and is above 10 years of age can opt for contact lenses”, says Reddy. Since handling contact lenses needs practice and patience, the person should be old enough to handle them agrees Lakha.
Take Care Of Them
Contact lenses are not sold over the counter but administered after an eye check–up. One of the essentials of using contact lenses (conventional or disposable) is learning how to wear them as well as how to take care of them. Normally, it takes a week before the person can master the acting of putting them on taking them off as well as learn how to keep them in good condition.
Since the lenses stay in direct contact with your eyes, caution is always necessary during its use. When not in use during travel, the lenses must be carried in special containers so that no scratching of its surface occurs. Overnight, it must be preserved in a special storage solution. During the day, the lenses are exposed to the elements which are bound to latch on to the lense’s surface. Before using it the next day, it is important to wash the lenses with cleaning and sterilizing agents as advised by your eye care provider to avoid the risk of infection from the protein deposits that may have lodged on it.
Pay attention to your eye. Normally, conventional lenses can be worn for about 10 to 12 hours a day, while disposable ones could be worn for as long as 12 to 14 hours at a stretch. A few drops of the prescribed conditioner could be used to accustom your eyes to the “Artificiality”, informs Lakha. If the feeling of discomfort persists, the conditioner could be used twice during the day. Optometrists caution against the overuse of contact lenses. If redness or dryness persists, a consultation with one’s practitioner is advised. Excessive use of contact lenses could lead to corneal ulcer.
Dos And Don’ts
Among the other precautions that are called for, one can’t swim or sleep or ride a two–wheeler while wearing a pair of contact lenses. While riding a two–wheeler, it is advisable to wear glares, since the porous surface of soft lenses absorbs dust easily, advises Reddy.
Making The Right Choice
Contact lenses could be on the expensive side. The conventional range costs anything from Rs 2,000 upwards, while the price tag for the disposable range extends from Rs 3,000 upwards depending on the length of the duration the user prefers. Choosing the right make may take some time. Of the whole range of products, the soft range is more popular and holds sway over 80 per cent of the total market, asserts Reddy.
Multinational brands offer standard quality products. Johnson & Johnson are the major players in the disposable contact lenses market. Their range of lenses have an innovative feature: these provide ultra violet protection to the eyes. There are other companies like Ciba Vision, Cooper Vision with its latest offering Silver 01, and a new entrant, Bangalore–based Silk Lens who vie mostly in the conventional range.
Colored soft contact lenses from Bausch & Lomb are very popular as a fashion accessory and the brand has made a distinctive impact on the younger lot. This range is also available with an optical number. If one likes wearing eye make up, it is best to wear it after putting on one’s contact lenses. Some special make up kits are available for people who use contact lenses or have sensitive eyes.
As regards lens care products, it is better to buy well known ones which must be used as prescribed by your eye care provider. The product range has been expanding to meet specific demands of customers. “People with mild astigmatism can use toric contact lenses which are now also available in the soft lens range”, informs Lakka.
But contact lenses may not always be an answer to people who have a high refractive error. In their case, keeping a pair of glasses handy for nocturnal use is worthwhile. Constant use of corrective lenses does not reduce one’s diopter number, says Reddy. If one suffers from myopia, then presbyopia may be a problem one could be faced, after one turns 40 years old. Such people may be advised to use reading glasses over their contact lenses while reading.
By the way, soft bifocal contact lenses are also expected to be launched soon. So, one could safely exclaim, move over spectacles, contact lenses are here to stay.