04 December 2008

Your questions about contact lenses answered

Whether you're worried about changing from soft lenses to oxygen permeables, or simply want to know what presbyopia means, here are the answers.

Whether you're worried about changing from soft lenses to oxygen permeables, or simply want to know what presbyopia means, here are the answers.

Q. Is it possible to get contact lenses that will change my eye color?
A.Tinted Lenses are available to enhance or change eye color.

Q. Disposable lenses are supposed to be discarded after a single use. Can I continue to wear my lenses if they are still comfortable after the recommended wearing period?
A. Lenses should not be worn for longer than the recommended wearing period. The purpose of replacing contact lenses on a frequent basis is to prevent discomfort, dryness, blurred vision and allergic reactions that can result from a build-up of protein and lipid deposits on the lenses. As the deposits age and chemically change on the lens, they contribute to these irritations. The changes in the chemical composition of the deposits also increase the probability that bacteria may adhere to a contact lens, increasing the health risk even without any subjective deterioration in comfort. Check with your eye care practitioner for the lenses and lens replacement frequency that are most appropriate for you.

Q. I wear contacts only occasionally, at most once or twice a week. Which type of contact lens may be best for me?
A. Adapting to contact lens wear is more difficult when lenses are worn only occasionally. Generally, however, a soft (hydrophilic) lens is more appropriate for occasional wear. Comfort is better from the outset and adapting is easier. Ask your eye care practitioner about lenses that best meet your specific requirements.

Q. My doctor told me I couldn't wear regular contact lenses for presbyopia. Why not?
A. Presbyopia as a vision condition in which the eye cannot focus on near objects. In most cases, reading glasses or bifocal glasses are prescribed to correct presbyopia. But contact lenses can be prescribed also. Special bifocal contact lenses are available, but success rates can be variable, and bifocals are generally more expensive. As an alternative, many practitioners prescribe a system called monovision where one eye is fitted with a distance lens and the other with a reading lens. Approximately two-thirds of patients adapt to this type of contact lens wear, with the brain automatically switching to the eye more clearly in focus.

Q. Wearing contact lenses while traveling by plane can be uncomfortable. Why, and what can be done to lessen the discomfort?
A. The low humidity in aircraft cabins 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 is probably easiest and best to wear eyeglasses when flying.

Q. Can contact lenses be "blinked" out?
A. With normal use, 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. A sharp blow to the head may dislodge rigid gas permeable lenses. And rubbing your eye carelessly may result in a lost lens. Describe to your eye care practitioner all of the circumstances in which you are likely to wear your contact lenses. This will help him or her prescribe a type of lens that is less likely to be dislodged given your activities.

Q. Is it OK to swim while wearing contact lenses?
A. Only if you're wearing goggles with a firm seal. If you don't wear goggles, the contact lenses may float from your eyes and/or they will absorb the pool water, one consequence of which may be that they adhere quite 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 contacts to pool water also places you at risk of discomfort due to chlorine and infection from bacteria or other microorganisms.

Q. Is it OK to play sports while wearing contact lenses?
A. Wearing contact lenses for sports is a more flexible and stable form of eye correction than eyeglasses. If your sport involves vigorous exercise, a soft contact lens is an appropriate choice. Your eye care practitioner can help determine the best type of lenses based on your sport or activity.

Q. Which type of lens care system is best?
A. Recently, there has been a strong movement to "one-bottle" systems. These all-in-one solutions are the easiest and quickest to use. However, if you are particularly sensitive to chemicals, it may be better to use a hydrogen peroxide system. In most countries, lens care systems go through rigorous testing to meet government regulations to ensure that they are safe and effective. Your eye care practitioner will recommend the care system most appropriate for you. You should not make your own lens care solutions, nor should you mix different brands of solutions unless instructed by your eye care practitioner.

Q. Is it necessary to use protein remover tablets in additions to my normal daily cleaning procedure?
A. The need to use protein remover tablets depends on the amount of protein deposits your eyes produce and how often you replace your lenses. Protein deposits are normal. But as they age, they can change in chemical composition, contributing to discomfort and poor vision or leading to allergies. If these deposits become a problem, your eye care practitioner may recommend a type of contact lens that you replace more frequently. Depending on the replacement frequency, using a protein remover in addition to your daily cleaning regimen may not be necessary. Regardless of your lens replacement schedule, however, daily cleaning is important for eye health. Consult your eye care practitioner for the best advice regarding your replacement and cleaning schedules.

Q. Can contact lenses block ultraviolet light?
A. Although some manufacturers have added UV blocking properties to some lenses, 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 to wear UV absorbing sunglasses over your prescription contact lenses, even if they contain UV blocking properties.

Q. Can contact lenses be fit if I have had refractive surgery?
A. 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.

Q. How often should contact lenses be changed?
A. The recommended life of contact lenses varies depending on the type of lenses, from 1-day, 1-week, 2-weeks, 1-month, and longer. With any contact lense, you should follow the prescribed wear and care instructions that include guidelines for replacement.

Q. How do I know if my contact lenses are 'worn out'?
A. 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,are prescribed to be replaced before problems can develop rather than after as sometimes these complications are difficult to reverse. It is important that you replace your lenses according to the product labeling or your eye care practitioner's directions.

Q. Can I wear my contact lenses if my eyes are bothering me?
A. 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.

Q. What are contact lenses made of?
A. 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 breathe normally 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%.

Q. How long can you store a contact lens after it has been removed from its package?
A. This varies according to the cleaning and disinfection routine that you use before storing the lens. For specific details consult the package insert of your lens care system.


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