There must be someone you know who wears contact lenses on a daily basis. Wearing contact lenses is an ubiquitous habit for many reasons – whether it’s for cosmetic purposes, convenience or vision correction.
The lens wearing struggle is real. Anyone?
Contact lens hygiene behaviors are therefore important to the success of wearing contact lenses and also the reduction of risk for infections. However, study showed that contact lens users in Malaysia lack the awareness of basic lens care and contact lens hygiene. Read on to learn more about contact lenses and how you should take care of your contact lens. You may be surprised by just how many things you have been doing it wrong!
While the prescription glasses are mainly made of just, well, glasses; there are in fact many types of contact lenses in the market! The two most common categories of contact lenses are soft and rigid gas permeable (RGP) contact lenses.
Image credit: CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=514486
Soft contact lenses are made of soft, flexible plastics that allow oxygen to pass through to the cornea. Soft contact lenses may be easier to adjust to and are more comfortable than rigid gas permeable lenses. Newer soft lens materials include silicone-hydrogels to provide more oxygen to your eye while you wear your lenses.
Image credit: Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=862085
Okay no, we didn’t just pull up an image of a soft contact lens and pretend it is a RGP contact lens. Indeed they both look very similar, but when you hold them together you will realise that RGPs are smaller than their soft counterparts.
RGPs allow your eyes to “breathe” better by letting more oxygen reach the front surface of your eyes. This is made possible by the silicone materials used in RGPs, which is more permeable to oxygen than many soft contact lens materials (although new “silicone hydrogel” soft lenses are comparable to RGPs in oxygen transmission).
RGPs are also more durable and resistant to deposit buildup, and generally give a clearer, crisper vision. They tend to be less expensive over the life of the lens since they last longer than soft contact lenses. They are easier to handle and less likely to tear. RGPs hold their shape and move on the eye with each blink.This movement pumps oxygen-containing tears under the lens.
Will RGPs work in Tenet’s world? It’s hard to know.
Hence, RGPs are usually recommended to contact lens wearers who find soft contact lenses too dry. However, they are not as comfortable initially as soft contacts and it may take a few weeks to get used to wearing RGPs, compared to several days for soft contacts. Also, because of their smaller size, RGPs can dislodge from your eyes during contact sports or when you rub your eyes aggressively.
RGPs are also commonly used to correct visions and control nearsightedness (myopia).
Extended wear contact lenses: These are soft contact lenses which are available for overnight or continuous wear ranging from one to six nights or up to 30 days.
Disposable contact lenses: These are soft contact lenses that are used once and discarded. Not a habitual contact lens wearer but still fancy a makeover with no specs on? You may consider a pair of disposable contact lenses.
Prescription contact lenses used for vision correction
Decorative/cosmetic/colored contact lens
You can read more about each type of the contact lense with this side by side comparison.
Colored contact lenses are also called decorative contact lenses or cosmetic contact lenses.
You may want to have the perfect look for a night out or bump up that iris size to look like your favorite movie star in a party, but choosing to change the look of your eyes with contact lenses could cause a lot of damage to your eyesight if you get them without the input of your eye care professionals.
Wearing cosmetic contact lenses can be risky, just like the contact lenses that correct your vision. It can cause serious damage to your eyes if the lenses are obtained without a prescription or not used correctly. That goes without saying that you should always be careful when you shop for contact lenses, online or offline – but especially pretty colored lenses that are sold at an unbelievably low price online.
Always purchase your contact lens, colored or not, from eye care professionals who can be trusted.
Wearing contact lenses and caring for them require a contact lens care system and solution.There are a variety of solutions that can be used for the various types of contact lenses. But these solutions can also cause serious problems if not used correctly.
Image courtesy of https://www.cdc.gov/contactlenses/care-systems.html
Multipurpose solution is the most commonly used care system by many lens wearers. It is an all-in-one care system used to clean, rinse, disinfect, and store soft contact lenses.
If you develop eye allergies to the ingredients or preservatives in multipurpose solutions, your eye care professional may recommend a hydrogen peroxide solution to you. This is because unlike multipurpose solution, hydrogen peroxide solution is preservative-free. They are not risk-free, however, and should be used with appropriate cautions.
Systems that use hydrogen peroxide solution require the use of a special case that comes with the solution when you buy it. The special case carries a neutralization disc, which reacts with the hydrogen peroxide, converting it to harmless water and oxygen over time.
Neutralization can be either a one-step or two-step process. The one-step process neutralizes your lenses during the disinfecting stage, while the two-step process neutralizes your lenses after the disinfecting stage.
Some storage cases have a neutralizer built-in, making it a simple one-step process. With other cases, a neutralizing tablet that comes with the hydrogen peroxide solution must be added. This is the two-step process. Leave contacts in the solution for at least 6 hours to allow the neutralizing process to finish.
Never use another type of case with a hydrogen peroxide-based solution, as the solution will not convert to saline and will cause burning, stinging, and redness upon inserting the contact lenses.
You only have a pair of eyes. Therefore, eye hygiene is so important, especially for contact lens wearers. A proper contact lens hygiene routine helps reduce your risks of developing the eye infections. Keratitis is the most common eye infection from wearing contact lenses. It is when the cornea—the clear, dome-shaped window of the eye — becomes infected by bacteria, fungus, virus or parasites (amoeba). Yikes!
When contact lenses are worn for too long or are not cared for correctly, the risk of getting keratitis increases. In some cases, keratitis can scar the cornea, affecting your vision or even lead to blindness. If the cornea is severely scarred, a corneal transplant may be needed to eliminate damage from the eye infection and have clear vision again.
In addition to keratitis, which is less common, you should also watch out for these more common eye problems related to contact lens wearing, such as:
Giant Papillary Conjunctivitis: bumps that appear underneath the eyelid
Corneal abrasion: a scratch or scrape on the cornea
Contact Lens-induced Acute Red Eye (CLARE): red, irritated eyes
Corneal infiltrates: irritation of the cornea indicating inflammation and possible infection
Neovascularization: new blood vessels growing into the cornea, sometimes causing eye redness
No that’s not true, Lisa. Eye care is every contact lens wearer’s concern.
If you have any of the symptoms below, remove your contact lenses. If the symptoms continue after a couple of hours, or if they get worse, call your eye doctor.
Irritated, red eyes
Worsening pain in or around the eyes
Sudden blurry vision
Unusually watery eyes or discharge
Image courtesy of https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2456169
These are the very obvious and basic measures you can adopt to properly care for your contact lens and eyes. We do not expect anything less from you.
If you want to step up your game in contact lens care (we bet you do), these are a few extra tips that will be helpful:
Always, always replace your contact lenses based on the recommended replacement frequency. Disposable lenses were created for a reason. Replacing your lenses on the recommended schedule is the single biggest recommendation you should follow. Although you can’t see it, bacteria will grow over time.
Change the solution that you soak your lens in according to the interval recommended by the manufacturer or your eye care professional.
When washing your contact lenses with a multipurpose solution, don’t “top off” the solution. Use only fresh contact lens disinfecting solution in your case—never mix fresh solution with old or used solution.
Clean your contact lens case by rubbing and rinsing it with contact lens solution—never water—and then empty and dry with a clean tissue. Store upside down with the caps off after each use.
Replace your contact lens case at least once every three months.
Not all eye drops can be used when you are wearing contact lenses. Use only eye drops that are approved for contact lens wear. You may consult a pharmacist when buying eye drops.
Put on soft contact lenses before wearing makeup and RGP lenses after applying makeup. Remove the lenses before removing makeup.
Avoid lash-extending mascara, which has fibers that can irritate the eyes. Also avoid waterproof mascara, which cannot be easily removed with water and may stain soft contact lenses. Replace mascara at least every three months.
Avoid applying eyeliner along the watermark of the eyelid.
Use hairspray before putting on your contacts. If you use hairspray while you are wearing your contacts, close your eyes during spraying and for a few seconds after.
Follow your doctor’s recommendations and take the care of your contact lenses seriously. A contact lens is an FDA-approved medical device, but it is still considered a foreign body in your eye, so proper care is essential for good eye health. See your eye doctor at least once a year for a comprehensive eye exam and contact lens evaluation.
This article is intended for educational purposes only. You should not take them as professional medical advice and instead see a doctor or eye care professional if you have any enquiries related to contact lenses. Always follow the manufacturer’s or your eye care professional’s advice on using the contact lenses and its solutions.
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