Contact lenses are the most preferred alternative to eyeglasses. None is necessarily better than the other one. But contacts provide a wider field of view because they conform to your eye curvature and don’t cause obstructions. Also, some brands are engineered to block up to 90% of harmful UV rays, making them a good addition to your designer glasses.
Before trading your prescription eyeglasses for contact lenses, there are a couple of things to understand. Let’s talk about the top five.
Not Everyone is a Candidate
Let’s start by clarifying that there’s no age limit when it comes to wearing contact lenses. As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) points out, contacts are a safe and convenient way of correcting vision for kids, teens, adults and even seniors above 60.
The user’s ability to use the contact lenses safely and care for them is crucial, though. In fact, several eye care providers may be reluctant to recommend contact lenses for kids below eight years. Some younger users may not be responsible enough to use and take care of the lenses according to the instructions, thus increasing the risk of side effects and eye infections.
Let’s assume that you’re motivated to use contact lenses as required. In that case, the chances are high that you’re a good candidate if you wear glasses regularly. On that same note, contact lenses may be an effective alternative if you participate in activities where eyeglasses can be a nuisance. You may be a fit candidate for contact lenses if you have astigmatism, presbyopia, myopia and hyperopia.
However, we recommend discussing this further with your optometrist if you suffer from the following conditions,
- Have severe allergies
- Experience regular eye infections
- Suffer from severe dry eyes or
- Are exposed to constant fumes, smoke or dust
There are two main ways of categorizing contact lenses: construction material and replacement schedule.
You’ll find two major types of contact lenses from a material perspective: soft lenses and hard contacts. Soft contact lenses use soft, flexible materials. This flexibility lets them drape nicely over the eyes, making them comfortable to get used to. But soft lenses have a shorter useful life, impacting their cost-effectiveness.
Hard contacts – also known as Rigid Gas Permeable (RGP) contacts- are made of a harder plastic material than soft lenses. These contacts are designed to be more permeable to oxygen to provide nutrition to the cornea and keep the eyes healthy. Although they require a longer break-in period, hard contact lenses tend to stay precisely focused without slipping around.
There are three types of contact lenses under this category: daily, weekly and monthly. Daily lenses are soft contacts designed for single-use, meaning you discard them after a day’s use. This means that you start every day with a fresh pair. Also, one-a-day contacts are much more convenient because they don’t require daily cleaning.
Weekly and monthly contacts are slightly thicker than dailies. You can wear weekly contacts for up to a week and monthly lenses for a month before having to dispose of them. Because they are thicker, weekly and monthly contacts don’t dry out quickly. Their durability also means better value for your money. Weekly, bi-weekly and monthly contacts should be removed, cleaned, disinfected and stored according to instructions daily.
No two contact brands are the same, even from the same manufacturer. On top of not achieving the expected vision correction results, wrong contact brands can cause serious eye complications making lens wearing frustrating and regrettable.
When comparing different contact lens brands, ensure you only use US FDA-approved brands. Don’t fret over it, though. You’ll discuss the best contact lens brand for your needs with your doctor during the consultation.
Here are some of the best contact brands on the market today:
Acuvue contact lenses– based in Jacksonville, Florida, Acuvue is a globally recognized brand and arguably the top-recommended today. This brand is popular for its various options of high-performing contacts and cutting-edge technologies.
Biofinity- is another highly recommended vision correction contact brand. Biofinity is owned by Coopervision- a Pleasanton, CA-based manufacturer. With over four decades in business, it’s not surprising that Biofinity contact lenses are among the best brands for superior comfort.
Prescription is Necessary
All contact lenses are considered a medical device- at least in the USA. As per federal law, you cannot buy contact lenses without a valid prescription from an ophthalmologist, optometrist or a dispensing optician.
This is the law whether they are vision-correcting or not and regardless of where you buy them- online or from a brick-and-mortar store. And while they both serve the same purpose, you can’t use your eyeglasses prescription to get contact lenses.
Likewise, it’s illegal to purchase contact lenses from unauthorized retailers and other non-optical outlets, including beauty parlors, convenience stores and flea markets.
Most eye care experts may suggest where to buy contact lenses, but you are free to shop anywhere, depending on your preferences.
After receiving your up-to-date prescription, most online stores allow you to email or fax it for convenience and faster services. If you don’t have a copy of the prescription, some popular companies like Webeyecare can obtain it from your doctor’s office if you provide their contact information when ordering.
Safety and Possible Side Effects
FDA-approved contact lenses are a safe and effective method of correcting vision. When used correctly, they protect the eye and correct refractive errors. This helps the cornea focus light on the retina (the back of your eye), leading to sharp and clearer images.
But that doesn’t mean that they are risk-free. Even the best quality contact lens brands can have unwanted side effects. The most common contact lenses side effects include;
- Red eye (conjunctivitis)
- Dry eye – happens when the contacts block tears from reaching the cornea
- Corneal ulcer- occurs when the contact lens injures the thin, outermost layer covering your iris
- Allergies- characterized by symptoms such as excessive watering, itchiness, burning sensation and prolonged discomfort.
It’s normal for contact lenses to feel uncomfortable and weird at first. Also, you may experience mild eye irritation when starting. But the contacts should start feeling comfortable and almost undetectable after wearing them several times. It takes around 10-12 days to adjust to your lenses. Always contact your doctor if you feel something is not alright.