The Modern Contact Lens

The Modern Contact Lens

There have been enormous improvements made to contact lenses in recent years, due to more advanced plastic materials being available for the manufacture of contact lenses. Previously, it was difficult for a soft contact lens to give all day comfort due to poor breathability and build up of proteins and other waste product on the surface, unlike the rigid gas permeable lens (i.e. hard contact lens) which was superior in these aspects. However, advance in the material of the soft lenses have closed this gap and soft lenses are far more popular of the two due to their ease of use and immediate adaptation to the lens, something that cannot be said for RGP lenses.

However, the RGP still has its place in modern contact lens practice as it can accommodate for a higher range of prescription and parameters. Also, many RGP users would argue that they are more comfortable once you have adapted to it. Most soft contact lenses are of the disposable type, which can be worn for a given number of days and is then disposed of, which varies from daily to a monthly depending on the type.

The modern materials are far more oxygen permeable (breathable), with the new silicone hydrogel materials for soft contact lenses being four to six times more permeable to oxygen than conventional materials. Improvements in surface treatment mean that it will remain moist and cleaner for longer. This has led to increased wearing time and reduced risk of long term effect to the eyes from contact lens wear.

Contact lenses are also able to correct for a wider variety of prescriptions too. Previously, soft contact lenses were mainly restricted to correcting short-sightedness and long-sightedness. Now there are a wider variety of brands and parameters available and therefore, most people can be fitted with contact lenses to correct for their refractive error including astigmatic eyes and in many cases, people in the older generation who may require distance and near correction can benefit from them too. Coloured lenses for changing your eye colour are also available.

However, it must be remembered that contact lenses, even the novelty coloured lenses, are a medical device, and incorrect use can lead to uncomfortable and potentially vision threatening disorder such as keratitis. Therefore, all contact lens users must have their contacts prescribed by an optometrist or ophthalmologist, follow their advice on the use of them and have regular check ups in order to minimise the potential for complications.

Also, note that we suggest all contact lens wearers to have an up to date pair of spectacles in case contact lenses cannot be worn due to irritated eyes or problem with the contacts. In some cases, a separate pair of reading glasses may be prescribed for those who require prescription for near too.

Are you suitable for contact lens wear? Here are some lifestyle questionnaires and criteria for suitability with wearing contact lenses.

Lifestyle Questionnaire:

  1. Do you find that your glasses inconvenience or hinder you at times? (e.g. slips down your nose while playing sport, sometimes end up looking over and under your glasses, etc)

  2. Do you play contact sports or any other activities which may potentially damage your spectacles?

  3. Do you enjoy aquatic activities such as swimming, scuba diving and water skiing?

  4. Would like to go out without glasses?

  5. Would like to wear fashion sunglasses which are normally unsuitable for prescription? (Visor type, or types with a large amount of curve in the lenses)

  6. Do you have a very high prescription in one or both of your eyes and are you bothered by visual distortions caused by your spectacles?

  7. Do you work in a dusty or wet/humid environment where your spectacles fog or foul up easily?

  8. Ocular health suitability:

    • Have good hygiene habits

    • Free from any active anterior (frontal) eye disease

    • Not suffering from excessively dry or weepy eyes

    • Not suffering from excessive sleep or stickiness around eyes (e.g. blepharitis)

    • Not excessively allergic or sensitive to chemicals

    • Look after your general health and well being