A lot of people have a misconceptions about contact lenses and how they are meant to work.
Here are some common conversations about contact lenses I have with people - family, friends and patients together with my explanations...
If you have a question not covered here, do feel free to post it in the comments below and I'll reply just as soon as possible; or if you'd prefer to keep it private, just email me.
"I don't wear my contacts that much because they are uncomfortable but I hear contacts are supposed to feel that way"
Guess what? Contact are not suppose to feel uncomfortable. There are some people who can wear certain contacts that they can not feel in their eyes.
"Well my opticians did give me an option - this is the only one they have for me to use"
At many high street opticians, they have a particular manufacturer the use a the "go to" lens and usually not based on patient comfort but on their profits on the lens. If you are not getting on with the contact lens you have been fit in then you have every right to ask to be fitted in another lens. You have every right to complain.
"What's the point of contacts when you are only allowed to wear them just a few hours a day?"
No manufacturer prints the exact number of hours you are to wear the contacts. A contact lens is designed to be worn from the moment you wake up until you go to bed. Now with some eye conditions such as dry eye and eye allergies, a patient may not be able to wear them all day. Some contact lenses are designed to be worn on a continuing basis - such as 30 day and night extended wear. With extended wear comes more maintenance and responsibility on the patient's part so it may not suit everyone. Daily replacement is the easiest and there is not cleaning process involved.
"I can't wear contacts. They don't make them in my prescription
Most all patient can wear contacts - just sometimes you may need a specialty lens not available at most opticians. And independent optometrist may be able to offer more options that a high street opticians. High street opticians normally stock and carry a limited range of contacts to keep the costs down.
"Can't I just order my contacts online - what's the point of having an EXAM for them?"
A contact lens is a medical device and in the UK can only be fitted and sold by a qualified professional. There are lots of online companies - some out of the country and some in the UK - that will let you order your own lenses without checking for the validity of the prescription. Many optometrists and hospital eye consultant see the results of poorly fitted contacts' damage to patient's vision. At the least, irritation could occur and at worst you could lose your sight due to corneal damage. A contact must be properly fitted, vision assessed and checked on a frequent basis to ensure optimum eye health and vision. Just because your lenses were fitted once doesn't mean they will always be the best ones for you.
"Kid's can't wear contacts - because their eyes are still growing"
I have fit toddlers in contacts for special visual needs in the past. Of course the responsibility of the parents falls on the parents to handle insertion, removal and disinfection of the lenses. Parents may be a good judge, but often times I find children do much better with the contact lens than their parents predicted. In some cases of myopic management (where I try to slow down the progression of short sightedness), a contact lens is the better option versus spectacle lens correction. There is no particular age requirement for contact lens use. And no age you should stop wearing them also!
"I don't need to wash my hands when removing my contacts
Yes, you do. Wash and dry your hands before inserting and removing your contacts.
Do you have a question about contact lenses and wonder if they're right for you?
Post your question in the comments below so everyone can benefit from the question and answer. Alternatively, if you'd rather keep your question private, then please do drop me an email. I'll get back to you as soon as possible.
Dr Valarie Jerome
Writing and sharing interesting topics affecting patients in their daily life, our practice news and the profession of optometry.