New to Contact Lenses? | Here are some basic Q&A’s
How long does it take to get used to them?
It depends on the type of contact lenses you choose. Most people get used to soft (hydrogel or silicone hydrogel) contact lenses immediately or in just a few days. If you choose rigid gas permeable (RGP or GP) lenses or hybrid contact lenses, it might take a couple weeks or longer for your eyes to fully adapt to the lenses. In rare cases, a person might not ever feel comfortable wearing contact lenses or be able to wear them safely.
Are contact lenses difficult to care for?
There are certain steps you need to take to ensure that your eyes stay healthy and your contacts last as long as possible.
Risk of infection varies somewhat depending on the type of contact lens. Single-use daily disposable lenses are the safest type of soft contact lens, in terms of reducing the risk of infection. Rigid gas permeable lenses are a safer alternative than any type of soft contact lens. Your optometrist can help you decide which type of lens is right for you.
Regardless of the type you decide on, proper care of the lenses is essential to eye health.
- Before handling contact lenses, wash your hands with soap and water, then rinse and dry them with a lint-free towel.
- Minimize contact with water, including removing lenses before going swimming or in a hot tub.
- Contact lenses should not be rinsed with or stored in water (tap or sterile water).
- Do not put your lenses in your mouth to wet them. Saliva is not a sterile solution.
- Do not use saline solution and rewetting drops to disinfect lenses. Neither is an effective or approved disinfectant.
- Wear and replace contact lenses according to the schedule prescribed by your eye care professional.
- Follow the specific contact lens cleaning and storage guidelines from your eye care professional and the solution manufacturer.
- During cleaning, rub your contact lenses with your fingers, then rinse the lenses with solution before soaking them. This “rub and rinse” method is considered by some experts to be a superior method of cleaning, even if the solution you are using is a “no-rub” variety.
- Rinse the contact lens case with fresh solution — not water. Then leave the empty case open to air dry.
- Keep the contact lens case clean and replace it regularly, at least every three months. Lens cases can be a source of contamination and infection. Do not use cracked or damaged lens cases.
- Handle your contact lens solution with care:
- Do not re-use old solution or “top off” the solution in your lens case.
- Do not transfer contact lens solution into smaller travel-size containers. This can affect the sterility of the solution, which can lead to an eye infection.
- Do not allow the tip of the solution bottle to come in contact with any surface, and keep the bottle tightly closed when not in use.
- If you store your lenses in the case for an extended period of time, consult the instructions for the lenses or the contact lens solution to determine if re-disinfecting the lenses is appropriate before you wear them. In no case should you wear your lenses after storage for 30 or more days without re-disinfecting.
- Some experts recommend that if you use contact lenses sporadically you consider using single-use daily disposable lenses.
Soft Contact Lens Care
Daily disposable contact lenses and some extended wear contacts that are discarded every time they’re removed. With these, you throw them out when you’re done wearing them, so there’s no care regimen at all.
Can a contact lens get lost behind my eye?
No. At worst, you might have trouble finding it under your upper eyelid if you rub your eye and dislodge the lens from its proper position. If necessary, your eye care practitioner can help you locate and remove the lens.
How old must children be before they can wear contact lenses?
That depends on how responsible the child is. This decision is best made jointly between you, your child and your eye doctor.
What kinds of contacts are available
Contact lenses come in various material types, replacement schedules and wear schedules. Many wearers find disposable contact lenses and extended wear contacts are the most convenient.
Your optpmetrist will prescribe your replacement schedule. It depends on the contact lens material and design, as well as your lifestyle and the condition of your eyes. Conventional soft contacts can last up to a year; conventional rigid gas permeable (RGP) contact lenses can last even longer.
Frequent or planned replacement contact lenses last one to several months.
Disposable contacts last from one day (daily wear) to up to two weeks (extended wear).
Daily wear contact lenses must be removed before sleep. Extended wear contacts can be worn continuously (day and night) for up to a certain number of days, usually seven to 30 days.
Special contact lenses. Special contact lenses include bifocal contact lenses, colored contacts, orthokeratology contact lenses that correct your vision while you sleep, theatrical contact lenses, contact lenses for astigmatism and UV-blocking contacts.
Are disposable contact lenses worth the extra money?
Many opticians highly recommend disposable contact lenses. They are an excellent choice health-wise, because there is less opportunity for protein and bacteria to build up on them. Also, if you wear daily disposable contact lenses, which are discarded at the end of the day, you won’t need to buy contact lens solutions to clean and disinfect them after each use. Extended wear contacts let you start your day with clear vision.
Is there really a big difference between daily wear and extended wear contact lenses?
Yes. Extended wear contacts are made of special materials that allow more oxygen to reach your eye, which makes them safer for wear during sleep. Some brands are approved for up to seven days of continuous wear; others can be worn for up to 30 days.
Very important: Always make sure you discuss and make decisions about your eye care based upon a formal appointment with your optician.