Choosing between glasses and contacts

Refractive errors are the most common treatable cause of visual impairment.

Published: 22nd August 2019 07:42 AM  |   Last Updated: 22nd August 2019 07:42 AM   |  A+A-

Contact lens

Representational Image

BENGALURU: Refractive errors are the most common treatable cause of visual impairment. These are optical imperfections that prevent the eye from properly focusing light, thus causing blurred vision. The primary refractive errors are near-sightedness (myopia), far-sightedness (hyperopia), astigmatism and presbyopia. These can be corrected with glasses or contact lenses, or can be permanently treated with laser surgery.

Eyeglasses

Eyeglasses are the most viable option. They also offer protection from environmental factors such as wind and dust. But at times, glasses can get scratched easily and fog under extreme hot or cold conditions. Some frames exert constant pressure on your nose and behind your ears, leading to headache and general discomfort. Thanks to contact lenses that provide a certain level of freedom and confidence.

Contact lenses

Contact lenses offer various advantages over spectacles. They provide a wider range of view, don’t get in the way while playing/exercising and the problem of fogging is almost eliminated. It also adds to the overall facial aesthetics. However, contact lenses should be avoided in people with severe dry eyes, chronic allergies and who can’t comply with the hygiene for maintenance. Contact lenses are available as daily wear/extended wear lenses.

Daily wear lenses should be worn for a maximum of up to 8 hours a day. On the other hand, extended wear lenses have better oxygen permeability and can be worn for extended periods of time but still it is advisable to remove them at night while sleeping. Every contact lens wearer should be aware of the following dos and don’ts:

  • Before touching your contact lenses, always wash your hands with soap and water and dry them with a lint-free towel
  • Lenses should be cleaned using the lens cleaning solution only. Never clean it with tap water/saline/saliva
  • Keep your contact lens case clean. Rinse it every night with disinfecting lens solution and keep it dry
  • Remove contact lenses before taking a shower/swimming or any other activities which allows the water to enter into the eye
  • Never sleep with contact lenses on unless prescribed by the doctor in special conditions
  •  Put on the lenses before you apply your makeup. Avoid glittery eye makeup as these can irritate and stain your lenses
  •  Using contact lenses for long duration reduces the oxygen supply to the cornea and predisposes to problems such and corneal vascularisation, edema, allergies and infections.

The author is a consultant ophthalmologist at Dr Agarwal’s Eye Hospital

DISPELLING MYTHS

 I will never be able to wear them comfortably. Initially it might seem a little difficult, but people adapt over a period of time and will be able to handle faster and better Contact lens will get lost behind my eye  A thin transparent layer called conjunctiva covers the white portion of our eye. This makes it impossible for the contacts to go behind your eyes. However, it can sometimes get stuck in the upper part of the eye behind the eyelid which can be safely removed.

Contact lens can permanently get stuck to my eyes. Never. A soft lens can get stuck to the eye when the eye gets dry, but re-moisturising it with lens solution/lubricant eye drop will get it moving again
I am too old to wear contact lenses. Multi-focal contact lenses offer the best of both worlds, providing good near and distance vision.

To safely wear contact lenses, you must be committed to comply with the hygiene and maintenance and replace them as and when required. For those who do not prefer wearing glasses or contact lenses, laser refractive surgery seems to the best option. Talk to your ophthalmologist regarding your visual needs and expectations who in turn can help you decide on the safest and the best option to correct your refractive error.

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