If you wear contact lenses, you’ll most likely agree that it’s easy to get complacent about them. You may forget that you have them because of how comfortable they can be! However, there are a few things that you need to know when wearing them.
Here are answers to 10 common questions we typically come across regarding contact lenses:
1. How Safe are Contact Lenses?
In general, contact lenses are safe to wear for everyone. Certain types of contact lenses are even used as bandage lenses after corneal surgery to provide therapeutic effects. However, all contact lenses require wearers to properly use them to avoid any risks and injuries.
Researchers discovered that many cases of contact lens contamination were due to improper use of these medical devices. The eyes are especially sensitive, and when dirty contacts are worn, it can lead to infection. Common causes of contamination include:
Having poor hygiene
Using incorrect contact lens solution
Exposing contacts to non-sterile water
Skipping rubbing and rinsing steps for cleaning or disinfecting the lenses
Using a dirty or old lens case
Wearing damaged contacts
Sleeping with contacts
2. Are Children Allowed to Wear Contact Lenses?
A common misconception about contact lenses is that they are designed for adults. There is no minimum age for wearing contact lenses. That said, it is still important to consider whether contact lenses will be appropriate for children. Children will need to be mature enough to handle contact lenses in a way that keeps their eyes and vision healthy. A thorough examination with the optometrist is vital during this process.
But don’t fret. When appropriately trained, children are quite disciplined in handling and wearing contact lenses (perhaps even more so than grown adults). There’s always the risk of losing contact lenses, though. It happens to adults and kids alike. This is why daily disposables are recommended for children. They are more hygienic and less of a problem if the child loses a lens.
Some kids prefer contacts over eyeglasses because they can help improve their self-image. Additionally, children who play sports such as basketball or football not only find eyeglasses bulky but also a safety risk. Broken glasses need replacement, which may not be a cost-effective solution for parents with active kids. This does not discount the need for protective goggles. Certain sports also require extra precaution, even for kids who wear contact lenses.
3. How Do I Put Contact Lenses Without Touching My Eyes?
We understand how some people find inserting contact lenses tricky and sometimes scary. Though rare, there are individuals with ommetaphobia, which is the fear of touching the eyes. This initial fear is not only common but also justifiable. But don’t worry; it gets better with practice. The first time you place contacts over your eyes can make you teary-eyed for a few moments. The feeling is comparable to putting in eyedrops.
And if it makes you feel better, the contact lenses are not touching your eyes directly. There is a layer of tears between them, giving your eyes a good amount of protection.
Contact lenses are lightweight and comfortable. Sometimes, you won’t even remember they are there throughout the day.
4. Can I Wear Contact Lenses If I Have Astigmatism?
The short answer is yes! However, the contacts should be specifically designed for your case. If not, it’s possible to experience increased irritation of the eye surface. Some people with astigmatism do better with contact lenses compared to eyeglasses. That’s because contact lenses offer a more unhindered, broader range view with less distortion.
The most important thing you should do is to see your optometrist. That way, you will have the correct type of contact lenses for your astigmatism. Although technology has dramatically improved, not every lens design may be suitable for your unique situation. For example, if you have keratoconus, you will need a special type of contact lens. Keratoconus is a form of astigmatism where the eyes have a cone-like shape. As a result, you cannot wear standard contacts to correct your vision. Instead, we will need to consider specialty options, such as mini sclerals, rigid lenses, and hybrid lenses like Synergeyes, which are available at E Eye Place.
5. Are Contact Lenses Suitable for Me If I Have Presbyopia?
If you’re over 40 and you start feeling that you need a longer pair of arms to read a book or a menu, you probably have presbyopia. If you’re diagnosed with it, it means objects close to you appear blurry. Correcting presbyopia with contacts is now possible, thanks to a wide variety of multifocal contact lenses available today.
Multifocal contact lenses, just like contacts for people with astigmatism, will need to be fitted appropriately. Multifocal lenses allow you to see objects clearly, whether they’re near or far. Current multifocal lenses come in different materials and lens designs and the performance differs from one wearer to another.
Corrective contacts for presbyopia have improved over the years. They have become more comfortable, allowing you to wear them for longer, and the lens design has become more and more sophisticated. Although some people wear multifocal contact lenses full time, it is an alternative vision correction option and does not replace a set of well-prescribed eyeglasses. This is especially the case in certain occupations where the environment may not be suitable (such as dusty situations), lighting can’t be optimised, or when precise vision (such as lengthy screen-based work) is critical.
6. What Should I Do if I Have Dry Eyes?
Although some contact lens wearers experience dry eyes from contacts, dry eyes are not always a concern for people who wear contact lenses. Patients with severe dry eyes are recommended to wear contacts as a bandage. However, your circumstances may be different. If your eyes only start feeling dry when you have your contacts on, you may want to ask the following questions:
Are the lenses suitable for your eyes?
Do you have underlying eye issues?
Are your dry eyes a result of environmental factors, such as pollution and temperature?
It’s important to get advice from the optometrist, particularly regarding aftercare. A consultation with the optometrist is necessary so that we can advise possible strategies or solutions. It can be something as simple as changing your current solution into a more suitable one. In some cases, there may be a need to change the type of lens you’re wearing.
7. Should I Buy Contact Lenses Online?
Unless you get contacts from a certified optometrist, buying online through uncertified vendors can be a huge no-no. Halloween, coloured, and cosmetic lenses are interesting and quirky, but they are not regulated most of the time. You do not want to risk your eyes and vision for the sake of saving money. Here are the reasons why you should avoid purchasing these contacts online:
Not all contact lenses available online go through robust safety testing.
Some contacts available online are made from older, outdated technology and can cause discomfort and eye irritation.
Research has shown some online cosmetic lenses are poorer in quality with low oxygen permeability, making it difficult for oxygen to reach the eyes. The colour matrix may be printed on the back of the lenses. The way these Halloween or cosmetic contacts are constructed makes it easy for bugs and bacteria to thrive in your eyes. Using them can cause serious injury to your eyes.
There have also been multiple reports of counterfeit lenses and non-sterile lenses which can cause nasty infections with devastating consequences.
There are safer options if you want cosmetic or coloured lenses. It always starts with knowing the proper way of caring and wearing the lenses. You should never wear lenses that are not measured for your eyes. Many unprescribed contacts are tight-fitting, which can lead to eye redness, irritation, and inflammation. Daily wear contact lenses are more suitable for most people. You don’t need to clean them. Just throw them away after use.
8. Why Do I Need to Consult with an Optometrist for My Contact Lenses?
An optometrist is an eye health professional who will give you advice, so you correctly use contact lenses. The optometrist will check your eye health first to determine if you’re suitable for the device. If there are any risk factors, including dry eye disorders, you will know right away. You can rest assured that the contacts that you will wear will be fitted to your eye shape, size, and needs.
Consulting with an optometrist before being prescribed contacts will also help find the best lenses that will work for your lifestyle and eye care requirements. If you need correction, the optometrist will make the necessary calculations so you can see clearly with your contact lenses. Even if you have perfect vision, you should still visit an optometrist to learn what you should and shouldn’t do when wearing your contacts.
Aftercare should be done regularly, usually each year. You need to go back to your optometrist, especially if you’re developing lens intolerance. This condition is typically due to untreated complications.
By talking to the eye professional, you see clearly with your contacts and ensure your eyes remain healthy.
9. Can Contact Lenses Help Control Myopia?
Yes! There are two main types of contacts used for managing progressive myopia.
● Soft Myopia Control Contact Lenses such as Misight, Naturalvue and Mylo
● Hard Myopia Control Contact Lenses using OrthoKeratology for Overnight Vision Correction
Significant research has been conducted for both types in managing myopia or near-sightedness and reducing progression A comprehensive consultation with the optometrist is necessary to determine the most appropriate option for you or your child’s needs. This is also where having the full suite of equipment to take non-standard eye measurements such as full eye surface maps and eyeball length is important.
10. Can I Wear Contacts When Taking a Shower, Swimming, or Sleeping?
There are contacts specifically for overnight wear. However, if you’re wearing the wrong type and you choose to keep them in whilst sleeping, you’re risking the health of your eyes. Overnight wear increases the risk of infection due to lack of tear exchange. Contact lenses that are not prescribed for extended and overnight wear can potentially increase the risk as they can cause more tear stagnation, and lack of oxygen supply.
When it comes to showering whilst wearing contacts, we highly recommend you remove them first. Doing so protects you from infections that bugs in the water may cause. The lenses have sponge-like qualities, which allow germs to cling to. One of the most severe eye infections, Acanthamoeba keratitis is an infection you can get if exposed to non-sterile water. It’s not only difficult to treat but can also result in pain and vision loss.
The risk of wearing contacts when going swimming is pretty much the same when you shower at home. The safest way to prevent microbes from adhering to your contacts is to remove them. In cases where you need to see when underwater, watertight goggles over your contacts is a possible option. However, this method is not without risk. We advise you to get prescription goggles instead. Give us a call, and we can help you with your contact lenses and prescription goggles requirements.
Stephanie is an owner optometrist, researcher and educator. She has held clinical, teaching and research roles in Australia and overseas, and has extensive training and clinical experience. Stephanie is also the head optometrist at E Eye Place, on top of this, she is also currently a PhD candidate at UNSW. Dr Stephanie Yeo Optometrist BOptom (HC1) GradCertOcTher DOPT (Merit) CO Ophthalmic Medicines Prescriber.