How To Choose The Right Contact Lenses For You
There are many different types of contact lenses on the market. Harley Street ophthalmologist Steven Bailey explains the advantages and disadvantages of the different kinds of contact lenses that are available. Learn how to choose the right contact lenses for you.
Step 1: Type One - Soft Disposable Lenses
These are the most common type in use today and they come in a variety of types. There are the reusable sort that are disposed every year or so. There are monthly disposable lenses, and there are some lenses that are disposed of every two weeks or every day. The most economical are the reusable lenses whereas daily disposables are more convenient and great for travelling as you don't have carry a lot of solution, which can be very heavy. However it is the more expensive option, especially if used every day. With reusable lenses, make sure you stick to a rigorous cleaning and disinfection routine.
Step 2: Type Two - Extended Wear Lenses
These are soft lenses again, but instead of being worn merely for a day and having to take them out at night, they are intended for continuous night and day wear for a variable period, usually up to a month. The most modern of these types are called silicon hydrogels, which have a silicon material within them that has a high ability to transmit oxygen through the lens. They are capable of meeting the requirement of the surface of your eye for oxygen, even overnight. However, it appears from current evidence that they may be no safer then the continuous wear lenses from ten or fourteen years ago in respect of sight threatening, corneal infections.
Step 3: Type Three - Hard Contact Lenses
These were the first type of lens but they have largely been supplanted now by more modern materials. Back then, the problem with perspex lenses was that they didn't allow any oxygen through the lens, therefore they had to be made quite small to allow a good flow of tears underneath the lens to supply the surface of the eye with oxygen. Today they do still have their place, but are mostly for special needs.
Step 4: Type Four - Rigid Gas Permeable Lenses
These look like the hard lenses from decades ago, although they are usually slightly bigger. The difference is that they are now made of a material that allows oxygen to diffuse through the chemical matrix of the lens. They combine the best of many worlds. They give comfort over long periods, although they are generally not as good as soft lenses. And they are much more suitable for longer periods of wear. They still need very careful use and very careful cleaning and disinfecting, but overall they are the safest type of lenses around.
Step 5: Type Five - Coloured or Cosmetic Lenses
These usually have a pattern on the surface and the intention of them is to change the apparent colour of the person's eyes. They can also have optical power to correct vision, but they are mostly not used for that purpose. It is very important that they are still fitted by an ophthalmologist or a suitably qualified optician, as they have the same risk as any other type of contact lenses and need looking after in the same way.
Step 6: Type Six - Custom Lenses
These lenses fall into several different groups. There are custom soft lenses for treating and correcting vision. Most of the custom made lenses, at least for special purposes, are rigid. They are made of gas permeable materials and come in a wide variety of sizes and are mostly used for conditions of the cornea and after operations on the eye. There is also a group of lenses for medical purposes, such as to disguise a disfigured eye. These are mostly custom made and many are hand painted to match the fellow eye.
Always take the advice of your contact lens practitioner and do attend regular check-ups every year.