Considering Contact Lenses? Here’s What You Should Know

Jan 12, 2023
Considering Contact Lenses? Here’s What You Should Know
If you’re considering contact lenses, it helps to know what you’re looking at — and through. Here’s what you need to know to get started.

Prescription lenses are an essential medical device for most of the population. Some 168.5 million Americans use some form of corrective lenses — that’s over half the country’s population.

However, some people find traditional glasses uncomfortable or cumbersome, while others don’t like the way they look. In both cases, there’s an easy solution — contact lenses.

At Precision Eye Institute, ophthalmologist Dr. Orest Krajnyk and optometrist Dr. Sean McLoughlin offer contact lens exams and fittings for their patients looking for an alternative to glasses. If you’re considering contact lenses, there are some things you should know going in that will help make the transition easier.

A brief history of contact lenses

Think contact lenses are a modern invention? Think again. Leonardo da Vinci first toyed with the idea of contact lenses in 1508. In 1801, scientist Thomas Young became the first to wear a contact lens, which he secured to his eye with wax! Not exactly comfortable or good for the eye.

Hard contact lenses were the norm until 1971, when the first soft contact lens was introduced. It was thinner and more comfortable than the hard lenses of the past, and it stayed in the eye better.

The next big breakthroughs came in 1988, with the introduction of the disposable lens, and in 1996, when daily disposable lenses were unveiled. Being disposable had the advantages of not attracting buildup on the lens and therefore not requiring stringent cleaning.

Now, silicone hydrogel lenses offer greater comfort and can be worn for longer periods of time than previous incarnations.

More about contact lenses

Contact lenses are so named because they’re small prescription lenses, worn in “contact” with the eye, floating on the tear film layer on the eye’s surface. Like glasses, they correct refractive errors and maintain ocular health. As we’ve already discussed, there are a number of different types.

Hard contact lenses

Yes, hard contacts are still around, with the most common type being the rigid gas-permeable (RGP) lens. They’re usually made from plastic and other materials and they hold their shape firmly, yet they allow oxygen through to nourish the eye.

RGP lenses are particularly helpful for people with astigmatism and those with keratoconus, an unevenly curved cornea. The latter is because they provide clearer vision than soft versions.

Soft contact lenses 

Most people choose soft contact lenses because they tend to be more comfortable, and there are many different options.

Daily wear contacts

You wear these when you’re awake and remove them to sleep. Many are disposable, so you toss the old pair and put on a new pair each day. Some lenses last longer than a day and only need to be replaced once a week, every two weeks, or every month.

Extended wear contacts

You don’t need to take these out when you sleep, but you have to remove them for cleaning at least once a week. Some eye doctors hesitate to recommend this type of contact lens because it increases the chance of getting a serious eye infection.

Toric contacts

These come in daily or extended wear and are used for people with astigmatism; they’re weighted on the bottom to ensure they fit the right way up. However, they’re not as effective as hard contact lenses. They also tend to cost more than other types of lenses.

Multifocal contacts

When you reach your early 40s, your vision starts to change, and most people end up needing reading glasses for close-up work. The condition is called presbyopia. If you fall into this category but still want to wear contact lenses, it’s no problem; just like you can get multifocal glasses, you can get multifocal contacts that serve the same purpose.

The contact lens eye exam

Contact lens exams are like regular comprehensive eye exams, but the Precision Eye Institute team includes some additional tests. We map your corneal surface to evaluate light refraction, and we measure your pupil and iris to determine the proper contact lens size.

If you have dry eyes, we also perform a LipiScan® test to ensure you’re able to wear contacts comfortably. After compiling all the information, we fit you with trial contact lenses that precisely meet your vision requirements.

We view your lenses under magnification to make sure you have a good fit and are comfortable before you leave. You wear the trial lenses for a week; if you like them, you can go ahead and fill the doctor’s prescription for new lenses.

Considering contact lenses but want to know more? Schedule your appointment with Precision Eye Institute by calling any of our locations — Edgewater, New Smyrna Beach, and Daytona Beach, Florida — or book online with us today. We also offer LASIK surgery if you want to go totally lensless.