Did you know that 66 per cent of Australians wear prescription glasses, compared to 13 per cent wearing contact lenses? So why aren’t more people giving contacts a go?
August 17 - 21 marks Contact Lens Health Week, a national awareness week designed to educate the public on healthy contact lens wear and hygiene practices - so here we’ve taken the opportunity to talk about the benefits of contact lenses.
According to Optometry Australia’s 2020 Vision Index, the main barrier for people wearing contact lenses is the idea of putting something on their eye and the perceived difficulty in application, with 32 per cent of Australians believing they will be uncomfortable to wear.
In most cases however, properly fitted contacts are not hard to put in at all. All it takes is a little practice and patience, and they become very easy to apply and remove from the eye.
There are many benefits of wearing contact lenses. They are excellent for sport and other physical activity, they don’t get muddy or foggy (a big advantage at the moment with mask wear) and when applied correctly can be very comfortable to wear. Because contacts sit directly on your eye and not on top like glasses, your peripheral vision remains unobstructed.
By following professional guidance from your optometrist and practicing proper hygiene habits, wearing contact lenses can become an easy and efficient part of your daily routine.
Choosing the right contact lenses for you
Contact lenses cater for a huge range of prescriptions, making them accessible to everyone. As manufacturing technology continues to improve, many people who had been told in the past that contact lenses did not come in their prescription (especially those with astigmatism or who need bifocal or multifocal correction) can now access this option for enhanced vision free from spectacles.
Likewise, advances in material technology mean that lenses are softer than ever, and much more resistant to drying out than those available even a few years ago. Contact lenses come in soft and gas permeable (rigid) designs, with wear periods spanning from daily disposables, fortnightly, monthly or yearly options.
Choosing the right contact lenses for you can hinge on a range of lifestyle factors such as whether you’re planning to wear them every day or just for special occasions. Or perhaps you’ll only wear them whilst playing sport or at work. There are many other types of specialty contact lenses available including lenses to change the colour of your eyes, prosthetic lenses for damaged eyes and even contacts which have a light activated ‘sunglass tint’ built into them.
Orthokeratology lenses are rigid lenses that a patient wears at night which gently reshape the cornea (the clear window at the front surface of the eye). These are then removed during the day enabling a patient to have clear vision without wearing spectacles or contact lenses! Orthokeratology contact lenses and new soft disposable lenses with specially designed optics are also now being used by optometrists to assist in slowing down the progression of myopia in kids.
The three main categories of contact lenses:
- Daily disposables are ideal for individuals with sensitive eyes or those who only wear contact lenses on occasion. Daily contact lenses are a hygenic and convenient option as there is no cleaning required and your eyes get a fresh pair each wear.
- Fortnightly wear contact lenses are available in a greater range of prescriptions and materials than dailies and may be also more economical (but require cleaning each night).
- Monthly wear contact lenses are also available in a greater range of prescriptions and materials than dailies and may be also more economical than fortnightly and daily lenses (but also require cleaning each night).
How to care for your contact lenses
When properly fitted by your optometrist and worn and looked after as instructed, contact lenses provide a very safe and effective means of vision correction. However, poor hygiene practices can result in a build-up of microbes and bacteria which can seriously affect your eye health, potentially even causing blindness.
Below are some hygiene do’s and don’ts when it comes to keeping your contacts clean and your eyes healthy.
How to keep your contact lenses clean:
- Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water before inserting or removing them
- Don’t wear contact lenses in the shower and avoid contact with tap water
- Don’t swim in contact lenses
- Don’t wear contact lenses while sleeping unless directed to do so by your optometrist
- Do replace your contact lenses as often as recommended by your optometrist
- Do soak your lenses in solution for a minimum of four to six hours to effectively disinfect them
- Use only fresh contact lens solution – never mix fresh solution with old or used solution
- Replace your case regularly (monthly if possible) and let it dry out during the day while you are wearing your contact lenses
- Stop wearing your contact lenses if you are unwell.