Getting started with contacts
Contacts can take some getting used to, but they can be a serious quality of life improvement for patients in need of visual correction. With the newest contact lens designs and materials available today, our doctors are able to fit patients who may not have had success wearing contact lenses in the past. Whether due to poor vision, astigmatism, comfort issues, or dry eyes there are many more choices in contact lens materials to meet those challenges. But how does one get started on their contacts journey? Let's break it down!
The initial doctor visit for contacts
In an initial exam, the eye doctor will examine your eyes to determine if you can wear contact lenses. Your prescription and the curvature of your eye are measured and the doctor will discuss any special needs you may have. The doctor will then determine the type of contact lenses that best fit your eyes and provide you with the most accurate vision while ensuring that your eyes remain healthy with the lenses. If trial lenses are available in the office, you may be able to go home with lenses the same day. However, if your prescription or curvature warrant, contact lenses may need to be ordered and a contact lens fitting appointment scheduled when the lenses arrive.
The lens fitting appointment (optional)
When the lenses are ready, a fitting examination is scheduled as a practice session for you to try your new lenses and to become adept at lens insertion and removal. The doctor will also look at the lenses on your eyes and determine if any changes need to be made. If the lenses fit well and you are seeing well with them, a checkup exam is scheduled 1 week after the practice session. If new lenses are ordered, we will schedule a dispensing appointment when those lenses arrive.
Follow up visits for contacts
A regular contact lens exam isn't just for seeing 20/20. Since the eye is a sensitive organ, it is susceptible to irritations that may be caused by contact lens wear. Problems that are undetectable to you can develop into more serious conditions. It is vital to your eye health to make sure that your contact lenses fit properly and are allowing enough oxygen to reach the cells of the cornea. During the annual contact lens exam, your eye care professional evaluates the condition of the lenses and can tell if any changes are warranted in the lens fitting. We want to keep your eyes in optimal shape!
Can I swim or shower with contact lenses on?
There are two main reasons why you should not swim or shower with your contact lenses - possible loss of the lenses and, most importantly, contamination of the lenses. Underwater, contact lenses may be washed out of your eye, or above water a small wave or splash may take the lens with it. Contact lenses, especially the soft variety, will absorb any chemicals or germs in the water. They will then stay in or on the lens for several hours, irritating the eyes and possibly causing infection.
What's the difference between soft and hard contact lenses?
- Hard lenses were the original contact lenses made several decades ago from a plastic called PMMA. For a long time they were the only kind of lens but they are seldom used anymore as they have several drawbacks. Rigid, or gas permeable, lenses are similar to hard lenses in design and appearance, however as the name suggests, the material they are made of is permeable to gases.
- Soft lenses are slightly larger and more flexible than rigid or hard lenses. Soft lenses are made of materials which soak up water, and it is this uptake of water that allows oxygen to transfer to the cornea. Soft lens material itself is impermeable, so the oxygen is transmitted via the water.
Can I safely wear extended-wear contact lenses overnight?
Extended lens wearers may have an increased risk for corneal infections and corneal ulcers, primarily due to poor care and cleaning of the lenses, tear film instability, and bacterial stagnation. Corneal neovascularization has historically been a common complication of extended lens wear, though this does not appear to be a problem with silicone hydrogel extended wear. The most common complication of extended lens use is conjunctivitis, usually allergic or giant papillary conjunctivitis (GPC), sometimes associated with a poorly fitting contact lens.
Can Children wear contact lenses?
The deciding factor for whether a child should wear contact lenses should be that child's maturity level. Children of all ages can tolerate contact lenses well, but they must be responsible for the care of the lenses. Parents should make that judgment based on the child's personal hygiene habits and their ability to perform household chores.
Got more questions about contacts?
Call us anytime! We can't wait to hear from you and assist you with your contact needs.