Contact Lens Choices - Page 2

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Contact lenses: What to know before you buy

Specialized contact lenses

Sometimes specialized contact lenses are best. Common options include:

  • Hybrid contact lenses. Hybrid contact lenses feature a gas-permeable center surrounded by a soft outer ring. Hybrid contact lenses may be an option if you have an irregular corneal curvature (keratoconus) or you have trouble wearing gas-permeable lenses.
  • Bifocal contact lenses. Bifocal contact lenses feature two prescriptions on one lens — one to correct distance vision and the other to correct near vision. Bifocal lenses may be used to correct age-related loss of close-up vision (presbyopia). Bifocal lenses are available in daily wear soft and gas-permeable materials.
  • Monovision contact lenses. With monovision contact lenses, one lens has your reading prescription and the other has a distance prescription. Monovision lenses might be helpful for presbyopia. You might also try modified monovision contact lenses, in which you wear a bifocal or multifocal lens in one eye and a single-vision lens in the other eye.

Some contact lenses are tinted, either for cosmetic or therapeutic purposes — to enhance color perception or help compensate for color blindness, for example. Avoid costume or decorative contact lenses, however. These lenses can cause pain, inflammation and potentially serious eye infections.

Getting the right fit

If you decide you want to try contact lenses, see your ophthalmologist or other eye care specialist for a thorough eye exam and fitting. Schedule follow-up exams as recommended by your eye care specialist — typically after one week, one month and six months, and then once a year.

Avoiding eye infections

Wearing contact lenses of any type increases the risk of corneal infection, simply because contact lenses reduce the amount of oxygen that reaches the corneas. Eye infections aren't inevitable, however. To prevent infections:

  • Practice good hygiene. Wash, rinse and dry your hands thoroughly before handling your contacts.
  • Minimize contact with water. Remove your contact lenses before swimming or using a hot tub.
  • Remove your contacts before you go to sleep. This applies to extended wear contacts, too. Although extended wear contacts are designed to be worn overnight, continuous wear significantly increases the risk of eye infections.
  • Take care with contact lens solutions. Use only commercially prepared, sterile products designed specifically for the type of contact lenses you wear. Carefully follow the directions given by the manufacturer. Don't use homemade saline solution, and avoid any type of contact solution that's discolored — which could be a sign that the product is out of date or contaminated.
  • Follow specific tips from your eye care specialist. Don't put your lenses in your mouth to wet them, for example, and gently rub your lenses while you're cleaning them — even if you use "no rub" solution.
  • Replace your contact lenses as recommended. If one or both lenses bother you before they're due for replacement, ask your eye care specialist to check them or try a new set.
  • Replace your contact lens case every three to six months. Discard the solution in the contact lens case each time you disinfect the lenses. Don't "top off" old solution that's already in the case.

If your eyes are itchy or somewhat red, remove your contact lenses and use lubricating eyedrops. If your vision becomes blurry or you experience eye pain, sensitivity to light or other problems, remove your contact lenses and consult your eye care specialist for prompt treatment.