Get tips for making the transition from eyeglasses to contact lenses a smooth one.
If you have been wearing eyeglasses for some time, you might be thinking of making the switch to contact lenses. If so, there are some important factors to consider when making your decision and it's important to include your eye-care professional in the process.
Going from glasses to contacts is a relatively easy affair and you can always switch back if you feel it’s not for you. It pays to know why you want to make the switch in the first place. Glasses can get in the way or fog up during sports and other activities. If you want to switch to a better solution for your eyes if you’re into these activities, contact lenses are your best bet.
Are Contact Lenses for You?
Eyeglasses and contact lenses are the two most popular methods of correcting common vision problems, including myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), astigmatism (blurred vision due to changes in the shape of the eye), and presbyopia (trouble reading or seeing objects close up due to an aging, rigid lens).
With the advent of contact lens technology, there are many options available for eye issues. Soft lenses, rigid gas permeable, disposable and even extended wear lenses are readily available. The key question becomes, can your eyes tolerate it? While most people don’t have any issues wearing contacts after an adaptation period, people susceptible to dry eyes find it hard to tolerate wearing a pair. Have your eyes checked for any problems before making the switch.
Contact Lens Fitting
If you decide to give contact lenses a try, your eye-care professional can help fit your contacts and educate you on wearing and maintaining them properly. That person can also diagnose and treat any eye conditions that might make it difficult for you to wear contact lenses.
During your comprehensive eye exam, your visual acuity will be tested using an eye chart, and a number of tests will be performed to determine your eye health and whether prescription eyewear is required to correct refractive errors.
After this testing has been completed, your eye doctor will gather additional information so you can be fitted with contact lenses.
Adjusting to Contact Lenses
Contact lenses provide flexibility eyeglasses cannot give to those with vision issues. There are a variety of lenses manufactured for a variety of sight problems, as well as for cosmetic purposes. Almost everyone is now a candidate for some type of contact lens. Getting used to wearing contacts after you have grown accustomed to glasses can be somewhat difficult but a few simple measures can making wearing lenses comfortable quickly.
Make sure the contact lens and your hands are clean. Wash your hands before inserting a new or cleansed lens to avoid getting debris on it, which could make wearing it uncomfortable. It is much easier to get used to wearing lenses when they are completely clean.
Wear your contact lenses for short periods of time when you are first getting used to them. All lenses take getting used to, but hard lenses tend to be the most uncomfortable and wearing them for short adjustment periods can help. Don't keep extended wear lenses on your eyes overnight while adapting to wearing them.
Keep your contact lenses hydrated to make them more comfortable. Use prepared drops that are made for the type of lens you're wearing. Follow the directions on the label for how many drops to insert and how frequently you can apply the product.
Reinsert a lens if it does not "feel" right the first time. Wash your hands again before touching the lenses and re-wet the lens with wetting solution or all-in-one solution before trying it on your eye again. Never use plain tap water when inserting or re-inserting lenses.
Center the lens on your iris to make it more comfortable to wear and easier to get used to wearing. Close your eyes and gently massage the lens into place if it is not centered when you first insert it. You will be able to feel when it is in the proper position.
Where can I get contact lenses?
Since contact lenses are medical devices, your initial pair of lenses must be obtained by a licensed eye care practitioner authorized to dispense contact lenses in your state. Replacement contact lenses may be obtained, with an appropriate prescription, from any source of your choosing.
When choosing contact lenses, the health of your eyes is the most important consideration. You want to select a professional who is thoroughly trained and capable. When your vision is at stake, you want the very best. Your eye care practitioner should be able to evaluate your eyes to determine whether it is safe for you to wear contact lenses. He or she should also be willing to discuss all the issues and explain the options to you. You must feel comfortable enough with your professional that you won't hesitate to call if there's a problem. Think of the relationship with your eye care practitioner as a partnership.
Your eye care practitioner will examine your eyes, help you make the right choices, and then fit you carefully. After fitting the lenses, your practitioner will teach you how to handle and care for them and will provide checkups on a regular basis. Then, it's up to you to use your new lenses safely. Before you leave, make sure you know how long to wear your lenses, (daily, extended, or continuous wear), when to replace your lenses with new ones (replacement schedule), how to care for them (lens care instructions and recommended care solutions), and when to come back for your next checkup (ongoing follow-up care). Don't hesitate to call your eye care practitioner if you have questions or a problem.
Problems to Watch For
So if you are interested in contacts — or you already wear them and want to have your contact lens prescription updated — make sure you say so when you schedule your appointment for an eye exam. This will ensure your exam includes extra time for your optometrist or ophthalmologist to perform additional tests needed for a proper contact lens fitting or prescription update.
Also, be aware that it's usually more convenient and economical to have your general eye exam and your contact lens exam performed by the same eye care professional (ECP). If you have these exams performed by different ECPs at different locations, the practitioner performing your contact lens exam may want to repeat certain tests already performed during your general eye exam, and this might entail additional fees.
When you are wearing contact lenses, it is important to work closely with your eye-care professional to make sure that the lenses aren't causing any problems for your eyes.
Remember that most contact lenses require a bit more work to care for than glasses, and there are important safety concerns with contact lenses that cannot be ignored. However, following your eye care practitioner's instructions carefully will go a long way toward assuring that your contact lens wear is safe and happy. Contact lenses provide excellent vision for millions of people. Properly worn and cared for, they can be safe, effective, and fun!
This means that if you experience any pain, redness, light sensitivity, achiness, tearing, or any other worrisome symptoms, you should see your eye-care provider immediately.