Contact lenses are another alternative to spectacles for correcting refractive errors. In some cases, contact lenses provide a better vision than spectacles. Properly prescribed contact lenses provide excellent vision and comfort; they can also be tinted to change the color of the wearer’s eye.
Whether you are already wearing contact lenses or considering it for the first time, we can guide you to what is best for your sight and eye health. We routinely manage contact lenses for astigmatism, disposable wear, 1 day disposable, color, bifocal and aphakic lenses for children after cataract surgery.
Many parents are surprised to learn that their child is indeed old enough for contact lenses; the doctor will analyze each case individually and decide on the best form of vision correction.
There are so many different lenses available for a wide variety of needs and preferences; you first need to have an eye examination to determine the most appropriate contact lenses. Often on the first day, you will be taught how to handle your trial disposable contact lenses and once you learn you can leave wearing your new contact lenses.
They must be individually prescribed to ensure that they fit the eyes correctly; poorly fitting lenses can lead to severe eye problems such as infections. Because contact lenses are placed in direct contact with the eyes they must be cleaned and disinfected regularly, and contact lenses wearers need more frequent eye examinations in order to prevent any problems developing.
TYPES OF CONTACT LENSES
Soft contact lenses are most commonly prescribed. They are made of soft flexible plastics known as hydrogels, which contain water. The water allows oxygen to pass through the lens to the eye. This is important, as the cornea obtains its oxygen supply directly from the air.
These lenses may be worn on a one day, biweekly or monthly replacement schedule depending on the lens type selected. Special toric contact lenses to correct astigmatism can be replaced every three months.
Rigid lenses are made of plastics which are less flexible than those used for soft lenses. The materials used are permeable to oxygen, which is why these lenses are most commonly referred to as rigid gas permeable lenses. Some of the newer materials allow almost as much oxygen to reach the eye as if no lens was being worn.
Rigid lenses provide better vision than soft lenses, as the optics can be better controlled, and are suitable for a wider range of refractive errors. In some conditions in which the front surface of the eye becomes distorted, such as keratoconus, rigid lenses are the only way of satisfactorily correcting vision.
Rigid lenses require some adaptation on the part of the wearer. Typically they are less comfortable than soft lenses for the first week of wear, but after that, they do not cause any discomfort. They are more durable than soft lenses, so they do not need to be replaced so often.
WHEN CAN MY CHILD START WEARING CONTACTS?
The biggest concern parents have about contact lenses for their kids is: “if my child is old enough to wear contact lenses?” There is no direct answer. Physically, the eyes can tolerate contact lenses at a very young age. What parents have to ask themselves is “Is my child mature enough to handle the responsibility of wearing contact lenses?”
If you are considering contact lenses for your child, take a look at how they handle other responsibilities. If children need frequent reminders for everyday chores, they may not be ready for the responsibility of wearing and caring for contacts. But if they handle such responsibilities well, they may be excellent candidates for contact lenses.
Also motivation, not age is a key factor in determining when to wear contact lenses.
Children are great contact lens wearers once they take on the responsibility. They adapt well to wearing the lenses due to their flexible personalities.
Contact lenses can do wonders for your child’s self-esteem. Many kids simply don’t like the way they look in glasses or are made fun of in school. Wearing contact lenses can often improve how they feel about their appearance, elevating their self-confidence.
Contact lenses are also a wonderful option for kids who are very active in sports, they do not have to worry about losing or breaking their eyeglasses.
Keep in mind that switching your child from glasses to contact lenses need not be a permanent decision. If your child does not adapt well or is not responsible enough for wearing and caring for contacts, he can always go back to his glasses.
WHICH TYPE OF CONTACT LENS IS BEST FOR MY CHILD?
At the present time as the technology has improved in the production of contact lenses, Dr. Warman recommends the following:
“any patient that their prescription and corneal curvature are compatible with one-day disposable contact lenses are encouraged to proceed in such fashion”. A new contact lens that is worn every day in contact with the eyes, avoids accumulation of natural protein and other deposits produced by eye secretions. This minimizes the risk of infections and a tight lens syndrome (which prevents oxygen to be delivered to the cornea). Also, it avoids storage in contact lens cases that are not cleaned properly or often enough.
Present contact lens solutions do not prevent all organisms from growing (in particular fungus) and by avoiding prolonged storage we believe the incidents of this very rare but severe infections may be decreased
The next best choice is a disposable contact lens that is removed daily and discarded every two weeks. There are a few unusual prescriptions which are available in soft contact lenses but due to the cost are discarded every three months.
Finally, there are some prescriptions and some medical conditions that clearly benefit from the gaspermeable contact lens and should be the first choice in these situations. These lenses take a longer time to adapt but eventually, children accept them and are easy to handle.
Our average patient to be fitted with contact lenses by our experience is age 11 but we have many patients much younger that are successful contact lens wearers.
WHAT IS THE PROCESS TO GET FITTED FOR CONTACT LENSES?
Once the ophthalmologist tells you that your child is a candidate for wearing contact lenses, your child will be evaluated by one of our trained certified contact lens technicians to see what type of contact lens is best suited for your child. Once you get fitted and trained in our office, you will be asked to come back in a week to make sure the cornea is tolerating the contact lenses even if your child’s vision is excellent and the lenses are comfortable. After that checkup, your child will need to be followed up every 6 months by the technician and every year after by the doctor. Remember your child has a foreign body in his eye that needs to be checked periodically to avoid any problems.
INSTRUCTIONS FOR CONTACT LENS WEARERS
Do not wear contacts while sleeping, napping or in airplanes. Even if the manufacturer says it is acceptable to do so. Our experience shows that most of the complications arising from contact lens wear occur when people sleep with their contacts which does not allow a good oxygen exchange in the tear because they are not blinking.
There are certain warning signals of potential problems if you experience any of these you should remove your contact lenses immediately and call our office. The signs include red eye, pain in the eye that doesn’t go away in a few minutes or discharge from the eye. If you notice anything irregular about your eyes contact the office immediately.
IF I GET CONTACTS DO I STILL NEED GLASSES?
Absolutely YES! Everyone who wears contacts must have a pair of glasses with their current prescription. This is important because contacts can’t be worn all the time. The eyes need to rest and glasses are necessary for those occasions. If you are ill, you may not want to wear your contacts lenses. Studying late at night is best done using glasses. If you happen to lose your contacts or are not able to replace the ones you are wearing you can wear your glasses until you get your contacts again. Sometimes the prescription for your contacts is expired and it can take a few days until you can see the eye doctor get it updated.
UV RAYS AND YOUR CONTACTS
When you are wearing contact lenses your eyes are not fully protected from the harmful UV rays of the sun as they are when wearing glasses. Therefore, it is best if you wear none prescription sunglasses over your contacts.