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.
People wear contact lenses to correct a range of refractive errors, including nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism, and presbyopia. Contact lenses may also be used to treat eye diseases such as keratoconus or damage to the cornea causes by infection or injury.
The important question is whether contact lenses are right for you. One way to help you decide is to ask your eye doctor for samples to allow you can try out contact lenses for a short period of time. You should also weigh the advantages and disadvantages of switching from glasses to contacts. This article is not exhaustive, but it does provide an overview of some of the top pros and cons of contact lenses.
Good Reasons to Switch from Glasses to Contacts
Contacts give you a full field of focused vision
Although contact lenses are available in the same prescription strength as glasses, they give wearers a full field of focused vision wherever they look. Because they move with your eyes, contacts help you track action with sharp, direct, and peripheral vision. Switching to contacts also means you can say goodbye to the reflections and distortions you get with glasses.
- Contact lenses don’t steam up or get water spots
- They give wearers a wider field of vision
- They don’t distort or reflect light
Contacts give you the freedom to lead an active lifestyle
If you lead an active lifestyle (or want to), contact lenses give you more freedom and flexibility to enjoy your favorite activities. Lenses are lighter and less obtrusive than glasses, which means you can run and move with greater ease. And if you participate in contact sports, such as football or lacrosse, contact lenses won’t interfere with protective headgear.
- Contact lenses won’t bounce up and down or slip off
- They don’t rub against your ear or pinch your nose
- They won’t slow you down or restrict your freedom of movement
Contacts can give you more confidence
There’s nothing wrong with wearing eyeglasses—in fact, some people love the way they look in glasses—but for others, contact lenses can improve how they see and feel about themselves. The CDC even mentions that some children and teens report feeling dramatically better about their appearance when wearing contact lenses.
- Contact lenses don’t obscure your face with frames, giving you a natural look
- They make it possible to show off eye make-up and lash extensions
- You can wear contacts with the latest style of fashionable, non-prescription sunglasses
Disadvantages of Wearing Contact Lenses
Contacts are more work than glasses
Cleaning and disinfecting contact lenses can be complicated and inconvenient. The lenses themselves also require more care and maintenance than eyeglasses. If you’re looking for an easy alternative to wearing glasses, contact lenses might not be the answer—but LASIK surgery might be.
- Proper contact lens care and hygiene does take some time and commitment
- Wearers open themselves up to complications if they don’t properly care for their lenses
- Lenses come with specific directions for use—far more than eyeglasses
Contacts carry more risk than glasses
Almost all complications are due to poor hygiene and maintenance, but the fact remains that contact lenses do carry more risk than eyeglasses. Oversights in lens care can cause irritation, conjunctivitis, dry eye syndrome, and other uncomfortable eye problems. The CDC reports the following statistics related to contact lens complications and risk factors:
- Serious eye infections that can lead to blindness affect up to one out of every 500 contact lens users per year
- Between 40%-90% of contact lens wearers do not properly follow the care instructions for their contact lenses
- Keratitis—a painful eye infection often linked to improper contact lens use—leads to one million doctor and hospital visits annually
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.
Switching from Glasses to Contacts: Pros and Cons, MARCH 13, 2018