1. How do I read my soft contact lens prescription?
The prescription for contact lenses is different to the prescription for your spectacles since it includes the sizes required to fit the lenses to your left and right eyes.
2. Can I wear soft contact lenses if I have astigmatism?
Yes. There is a special type of soft contact lens called a toric lens which will correct your astigmatism. However, these lenses are more expensive and there are fewer types and colors available than there are with regular (spherical) lenses.
3. Is there a difference between rigid gas permeable (RGP) and soft contact lenses?
Yes. RGP’s are smaller and made out of a harder, less pliable material than soft contact lenses which makes them less comfortable initially. RGP’s correct astigmatism whereas soft spherical lenses do not. Soft toric lenses (see question 2 above) are now available.
4. Can I swim while wearing my contact lenses?
Yes, but you should wear tight-fitting goggles because there are microbes in the water that can stick to your lenses. You should disinfect your lenses afterwards. If you don’t wear goggles, the contact lenses may float from your eyes or they may absorb the pool water, which can result in them adhering firmly to the eye. If this occurs, it is advisable to leave the lenses alone for 10-15 minutes until the water in them has been replaced by natural tears before trying to remove them. Exposing your contact lenses to pool water can be uncomfortable due to chlorine.
5. Is it necessary for contact lens wearers to have regular eye examinations?
Yes. A regular eye examination once per year is useful to check your prescription and to evaluate the health of your eyes. This is important for soft contact lens wearers because wearing lenses can occasionally stress your eyes without necessarily causing any sensitivity or loss of vision. This occurs more frequently with extended (overnight) wear lenses which are not encouraged by International Vision Direct.
6. Is a Doctor or Eye Care Practitioner required by law to release my contact lens prescription?
The law varies from place to place, but in most areas the practitioner is required to release your prescription once the fitting is complete. Your practitioner is not required to release an expired prescription. Some practitioners are more willing than others to give your prescription to you. Your prescription is also found on the box in which your contact lenses were supplied.
7. Can I use bifocal lenses for far (distant) and near (reading) vision?
Presbyopia develops in later life and means that the eye cannot focus properly on objects close-up. This makes it difficult for middle-aged people to read easily without wearing spectacles. A good new development is the bifocal soft contact lens. It allows the wearer to focus on both distant and close-up objects. Such lenses have been much more expensive in the past but recently Johnson and Johnson has released their new Acuvue Bifocal lens which is a disposable bifocal lens that is reasonably priced and becoming very popular.
8. Can colored contact lenses be fitted on dark eyes?
Yes. They are called opaque contact lenses as opposed to enhancer tints which work only on light colored eyes. Year-long daily-wear opaque contact lenses are available in many different colors and shades but there is currently only one brand that offers a 2-week disposable opaque lens.
9. Is a prescription needed to wear contact lenses to change my eye color and not to correct my vision?
Yes. You still need to be fitted for the lenses even if you don’t need vision correction. This is because contact lenses are medical devices and wearing them can affect the health of your eyes.
10. Daily-Disposable lenses are produced to be discarded after a single day’s use. Can they be used for another day?
No. These lenses should not be worn for longer than one day. They obviate the need to clean and disinfect the lenses in a storage case saving time, effort and expensive disinfecting solutions.
11. Can patients with ‘dry eye’ problems wear soft contact lenses?
Yes. However, you are less likely to have less success with contact lenses than someone who does not have this condition. This does not mean that you cannot wear contact lenses at all. It simply means you may have a shorter contact lens wearing period than normal or that you may choose to wear your lenses only occasionally. You can increase the comfort of your lenses by inserting eye lubrication drops. As always, it is best to consult your eye care practitioner for the best advice regarding whether you should wear contact lenses and what type of lenses may be suitable.
12. Which type of soft contact lens is best for occasional wear once or twice a week?
It is best to use a daily-disposable soft lens so that there is no need to disinfect the lens between intermittent wearing sessions when contamination can occur. D
13. Can contact lenses be worn while traveling by aeroplane without discomfort?
No. The low humidity in an aircraft cabin contributes to dry eye symptoms and contact lens discomfort. It may help to put lubrication drops in your eyes before you enter the airplane or during flight. If symptoms persist or become severe, it will be easier and more comfortable for you to wear spectacles.
14. Can contact lenses come out of the eye with blinking?
No. With normal use, and with a proper prescription, contact lenses will stay firmly in position. However, they can come out under certain conditions. High winds can cause the eyes to water and pull the eyelid tight against the eye, increasing the chance of lens loss. Rubbing your eye carelessly may result in a lost lens or it may move under the eyelid.
15. Is it OK to play sports while wearing contact lenses?
Yes. Wearing soft contact lenses for sports is more flexible and stable than use of spectacles. If your sport involves vigorous exercise, the soft contact lens is the best choice. If contact lenses are not worn apart from sports, then use of a daily-disposable lens is the simplest and safest way.
16. Which type of lens care system is best?
Recently, the ‘one-bottle’ systems have become popular. These ‘All-in-One’ solutions are the easiest and quickest ways to ‘rinse-and-rub’ and then store and disinfect your soft lenses. However, if you are particularly sensitive to chemicals, it may be better to use a hydrogen peroxide-based system.
17. Is it necessary to use protein remover tablets in addition to my normal daily cleaning procedure?
Only if you are wearing a ‘yearly-replacement’ lens. The need to use protein remover tablets depends on the amount of protein deposits your eyes produce. Protein deposits are normal but they change in chemical composition with age. These deposits contribute to discomfort and poor vision or toxic allergies. If these deposits become a problem, your eye care practitioner can recommend types of contact lenses for you that are replaced more frequently, either on a daily, two weekly or four-weekly basis. Daily cleaning should be performed with your multi-purpose solution as recommended by the manufacturer. Those wearing yearly-replacement lenses may also need to purchase a separate protein-removing enzyme cleaner to remove deposits from their lenses.
18. Can a contact lens be “lost” behind the eye?
No. A thin strong membrane, called the conjunctiva, lines the inside of your eyelids and curls back on itself to cover the white part of the eye. Lenses cannot pass through it. However, your contact lenses may slide under your eyelids or become displaced. If this occurs, try looking in the direction of the lens to move it back to the correct position. Soft contact lenses tend to center automatically on the cornea.
19. Can contact lenses block ultraviolet light?
Yes, but only partially. Some manufacturers have added UV blocking properties to some lenses but none block all of the harmful UV light. Health organizations state that contact lenses are not a substitute for UV absorbing eyewear such as UV absorbing sunglasses in part because contact lenses cover only a portion of the eye. It is recommended you wear UV absorbing sunglasses over your prescription contact lenses, even if they contain UV blocking properties.
20. Can contact lenses be fitted after refractive surgery?
Yes, but the refractive surgery will have altered the contour of your eyes, requiring a more specialized lens than normal. It is best to consult your eye care practitioner who will have details of your specific history and requirements.
21. How often should contact lenses be changed?
The recommended life of soft contact lenses varies, depending on the type of lens, from 1-day, 1-week, 2-weeks, 1-month, and longer up to 1-year. With any contact lens, you should follow the prescribed wear and care instructions given by the manufacturer.
22. How do I know if my contact lenses are ‘worn out’?
Typical signs that a lens is approaching the end of its life are hazy vision, discomfort, and lens discoloration and deposits. These can lead to allergies and other complications. Today, frequent replacement lenses (daily, weekly or monthly) are often prescribed to prevent these problems before they occur.
23. Can contact lenses be worn if the eyes are sensitive or tender?
No. It is not advisable to wear contact lenses if your eyes are bothering you, particularly if the discomfort is related to contact lens wear. If you experience discomfort related to contact lens wear, consult your eye care practitioner.
24. What are contact lenses made of?
Today’s contact lenses are made from a number of different materials called polymers. These polymers ensure comfortable lens wear by allowing the eye to absorb oxygen from the air and maintain their shape on the eye. Modern soft lenses offer excellent comfort and are soft because they contain water. Typically, the water content of lenses varies from about 40% to 70%. If the lenses are worn on an extended (overnight) wear basis, then the eye can become short of oxygen (hypoxic)and its surface may become swollen reducing vision.
25. How long can a contact lens be stored after it has been removed from its package?
This varies according to the frequency of wear and the cleaning and disinfection routine that you use for storing the lens. For specific details consult the package insert of your lens care system.
26. Can my contact lenses be worn on a continual day-and-night basis?
No. This is called extended wear and has a much greater chance of causing you to have an infection. It can also damage the front of your eye (the cornea). International Vision Direct does not recommend wearing your lenses on a continual or extended wear basis. You should take your lenses out of your eyes each night, or when you sleep.
27. I am currently 7 months pregnant and experience reduced and blurry vision with my daily wear contacts.
The high hormone levels in pregnancy may have an effect on tear function and can result in reduced and blurry vision. This can occur because of excessive protein depo sition on your contacts with pregnancy or breastfeeding. The most likely reason for your satisfactory use of Daily Disposable lenses during your pregnancy is that there is not sufficient time for a build up of a protein coating on them. Daily Disposable lenses should be thrown away each night – you do not then need to buy any disinfecting solutions! There is also no problem then with protein deposition. If however you find that you have reduced or blurry vision with both types of contacts, or without contacts, then you should consult your optometrist or eye care doctor at once as they will need to examine the back of your eye (the retina) for hormonal effects of pregnancy on it.