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contact lenses

Like LASIK and eyeglasses, contact lenses can correct your astigmatism, farsightedness, and nearsightedness.
Although there are some who like making a fashion statement by wearing eyeglasses, many prefer how they look without them. Contact lenses can give you this look without having irreversible refractive surgeries. In addition, they can provide you with an excellent field of vision that is clear and unobstructed. This is wonderful for those who play sports.
Contacts have been around for over 100 years. Since they were first created, there have been several advancements that allow almost everyone to wear them. Today there are healthier and more convenient options for contact wear than ever before.
If you are new to the world of contact lenses, the first step you should take is seeing your local Optipro member. In Australia, you must have a prescription to get contacts. They have to be prescribed and fit properly by your optometrist who will evaluate your needs and the structure of your eye to what lens type is right for you.
The many kinds of contact lenses that are now available are grouped in several ways according to the following:
• The lens design
• What the lens is made of
• How long you want to be able to wear the lens without removal
• How often you want to dispose of the lens


contact lens materials

Contact lenses are classified by the material that they are made of. There are three kinds of lenses:
• GP Contact Lenses: These are also known as oxygen permeable lenses, or RGP. They are rigid plastic that are waterproof and are an excellent choice for high astigmatism and presbyopia. GP lenses are also small in diameter and usually provide the wearer with a sharp visual experience.
• Soft Lenses: These contacts are made out of a gel like plastic containing a water substance known as hydrogel. When worn properly they will cover the whole cornea. Soft lenses allow more oxygen to be transmitted to the eye than other types of lenses.
• Hard Contact Lenses: These are made from PMMA which is a rigid plastic that does not allow the transmission of oxygen to the eye. This type of lens has been virtually replaced by the GP lens. It is hardly ever prescribed these days.

There are also hybrid contacts which have two parts; the middle is made of a GP material that's rigid and the outer zone is made of a soft lens material, to provide a more comfortable lens.

wear time for contact lenses

Up until the year 1979, people who wore contacts would take them out each night and clean them. When extended wear contacts were introduced people were finally able to sleep in them. Currently, there are two kinds of contact lenses that are classified by the amount of time that they can be worn.
Daily Wear: This kind must be taken out each night.
Extended Wear: This kind can be worn throughout the night and up to a week without having to remove them.
The term continuous wear means the ability to wear the lenses for up to 30 days. This is the maximum amount of time for which the FDA has approved lens wear for specific brands of contact lenses.

intervals of disposal

Even with the best of care, lenses (especially the soft ones) should be replaced as frequently as possible to prevent deposit buildup and lens contamination. These things can increase your risk of contracting an eye infection.
Soft contacts have the following classifications based on how often they should be disposed of:
• Daily Disposable Contact Lenses: disposed of after 1 day of wear
• Disposable Contacts Lenses: dispose of lenses every 2 weeks or more frequently
• Frequent Replacement Contact Lenses: Dispose of quarterly or monthly
• Traditional Reusable Contact Lenses: Dispose of 6 months or more depending on the instructions

Lenses that are gas permeable have a higher resistance to deposit buildup and do not need to be disposed of as much as soft contact lenses. GP lenses are often able to last for an entire year or more before replacements are needed.
eye with contact lens


design of contact lenses

There are several lenses out there that can correct many types of vision problems:
• Spherical lenses are the regular rounded contacts that can correct nearsightedness (myopia) and farsightedness (hyperopia).
• Bifocal and Multifocal lenses contain various zones for far and near vision correction in those with presbyopia.
• Toric lenses serve to correct astigmatism, hyperopia and myopia.
• Orthokeratology lenses are a special design that reshapes the cornea as you sleep and provides daytime wear that is lens free.

Each of the above lenses can be specially made to fit those with difficult prescriptions. Many other designs are also available as well. Generally these are not as common and made for use in special situations like keratoconus correction.

additional contact features

Lenses for Dry Eyes: Do you experience an uncomfortable dryness when you wear your contacts? If so there are designs specifically designed to lower the risk of dry eye symptoms due to contact wear.
Colour Lenses come in various colours to enhance your natural eye colour or change it altogether.
Special Effect Lenses, also known as theatrical, costume and novelty lenses, take the colour of the lens a step further to make you look like a vampire, a cat or any other "thing" or your choice.
Prosthetic lenses are coloured lenses that can also serve the purpose of medical use. Prosthetic lenses know as opaque soft contacts can be custom made for eyes that have been injured to match how the unaffected eye looks.
Custom Lenses can be used if conventional designs do not work well for you.
UV Inhibiting Lenses help keep your eyes safe from the suns rays which can cause cataracts and other vision problems. They do not however cover the whole eye so you should still make use of a good pair of sunglasses for optimal protection.
Hybrid Lenses feature a centre GP that has a softer outer skirt. This provides the wearer with the comfort of a large and soft lens, as well as the crisp optics that can only be provided by a rigid lens.
Scleral contacts are permeable lenses that are large in diameter. They are designed especially for treatment of keratoconus and other irregularities of the cornea. They also help treat presbyopia.

which lens is right for you?

The number one concern is getting contacts that address the problem that is causing you to need vision correction in the first place. The lenses you choose must give you good vision by correcting your astigmatism, myopia hyperopia or other vision problem. Second of all, the lens has to properly fit your eye. This is done by combining the curvature and diameter. Remember that not every type of lens comes in all sizes.
Your optometrist is skilled in evaluating the physiology of your eye, your sight and which lens will be the best fit. Finally, make a wish list of the features you would like in your contact lenses. For example, overnight wear and colour.
When you and your Optometrist choose the right contacts for you, you will be given a prescription.

wear and care

Contact lens care is much easier than it used to be. Care includes disinfecting, cleaning and storing. A few years back you would have had to use several types of cleaning products to care for your lenses properly. Multipurpose products are used more than anything else these days. This type of product both cleans and disinfects your lenses, and can be used to store them in as well. There are some people who are too sensitive to the preservatives in this type of solution so they may need to use a product that is free of preservatives and contains hydrogen peroxide.
If you would rather skip contact care then you can go with daily disposable lenses instead.

problems with contact lenses

Finding the right lenses for you may involve a bit of trial and error. Some people will have a different reaction to cleaners and contact materials. Keep in mind also, that the right parameters for your lenses (curvature, diameter and power) can become finalized only once you have worn the lenses successfully, especially when the fit is more complex such as with torics or bifocals for astigmatism.
If you experience poor quality vision or any discomfort while wearing your contact lenses, you may need a change of lens or adjustment.
These days there are so many choices for contact lenses that provide good vision, comfort and eyes that are happy and healthy. If your lenses or eyes are not comfortable, or you find that you aren't seeing well, take the lenses out and see your optometrist to look into other options.

purchasing contact lenses

All Optipro members are able to supply you with high quality contact lenses that suit your needs.
Book an eye test with your local Optipro member to get your contacts prescribed today!
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