Contact lenses can provide a welcome change from glasses for a wide range of people. The youngest person we have fit in contact lenses is one year old. The oldest is 86! Some people like contact lenses for cosmetic advantages: maybe glasses don’t look for feel right, or slide around too much playing sports, or perhaps the person wants to wear regular sunglasses on summer days. Other people wear contacts because they have an eye condition where glasses can’t provide optimal vision.
Today’s contact lenses are very advanced compared to lenses of past; they can correct most spectacle prescriptions, they are designed to hold water and prevent drying out, and they are much healthier for the eyes because they are made out of breathable silicone polymers instead of plastic (HEMA). That said, there are risks associated with contact lens wear that should not be taken lightly.
Near-sightedness, far-sightedness and/or most astigmatism can be corrected with contacts. There are also options for people who need bifocals, such as monovision or multifocal contact lenses. Monovision is when we correct one eye to see far and the other eye to see close range. The brain learns to pay attention to the clear image of what you are trying to see.
About 75% of those who try this system like it; some will even have laser surgery to make it permanent! Multifocal contact lenses, instead of being built top-to-bottom like spectacles, generally hold the strongest power in the center of the lens and gradually decrease to the edges. They take advantage of the way your pupils naturally work—smaller for seeing close and bigger for seeing far—so you get proportionally more power depending on your pupil size. As you might imagine, this also means that proper lighting is essential. Reading a menu in a dim restaurant will be difficult with these lenses, as will trying to read highway signs when driving into the sunset.
All contact lenses are considered medical devices by Health Canada. Consider a contact lens for what it is: a foreign body that you are inserting into your eye. Lenses that are improperly fit can cause discomfort and abrasions. Contact lenses can induce dry eye in susceptible individuals. There is certainly the risk of infection, and when severe, infections can cause permanent vision loss. Proper fit, hygiene, and adherence to wear schedule are critical in reducing the risk of complications.
No one should be in contact lenses 100% of the time. If your vision is not good enough to go without correction, you need to have a back-up pair of glasses to wear in case of emergency (eye infection, for example).
Do you feel lucky? The risk of eye infection goes up 20x any time you sleep in contact lenses. Some lenses are approved for overnight wear, however, and others are absolutely not. If this is an important consideration for you, please let the doctor know and she will prescribe a lens to reduce the risk of damage.
You are under no obligation to buy contact lenses from this office, just as you are under no obligation to buy glasses from us. Please be aware, however, that our main concern will always be with the health of your eyes. I doubt big box stores will make the same commitment.
If you wish to pursue contact lens wear, Dr. Laurie would strongly recommend having the initial fit and training done here. If you wish to shop around on pricing once an appropriate lens has been prescribed, you are more than welcome to do so and we will provide you a copy of your contact lens prescription.