There are some people who enjoy making a fashion statement with eyeglasses while others prefer their appearance without them. Contact lenses offer you the ability to be glasses-free without having to resort to expensive vision surgery. They also provide a wider field-of-view than glasses, which is very usefully practical for sports.
Contacts have been around for more than 100 years. With advancements in contact lenses technology, today just about everyone can wear contact lenses, including those who couldn’t have in the past. There are now more convenient and healthy contact lens choices than ever, including many contact lenses specifically catered to the correction of astigmatism.
If you are interested in getting contact lenses, then your first step should be to see an eye doctor for a comprehensive eye exam and contact lens fitting. In the U.S., contacts are considered medical devices, meaning that they have to be prescribed and properly fitted by an eye care professional (ECP). The ECP will assess your visual needs, the structure of your eyes, and your tears to help determine the perfect contact lenses for you.
The plethora of contact lenses available can be grouped according to:
- The material(s) that they’re made of
- How long you can wear them without having to remove them
- How long you can use them before they should be thrown away and discarded
- The design of the lenses
Contact lenses are a means of vision correction. Your ideal contact lenses depend on your vision and comfort. There are a plethora of contacts that suit almost anyone and everyone and they’re very easy to wear. Types of contact lenses include:
Contact Lens Materials
There are 4 different types of contact lenses as sorted by their materials:
- Soft lenses – thin lenses that are made of gel-like, water-containing plastics. More than 9 out of 10 of the contact lenses that are worn today are soft lenses. Adapting to them is easy. They cover the entire cornea (the clear front surface of your eye).
- Gas permeable lenses – AKA GP, RGP or rigid gas permeable lenses, these are smaller lenses made from rigid, waterless plastics. Some GP lenses may provide better visual acuity than soft lenses do.
- Hybrid lenses – lenses with a central GP zone and are surrounded by a border made of a soft lens material. These lenses provide similar sharpness of vision as that of GP lenses, and a comfortability that would rival that of soft lenses.
- Hard lenses – these are similar in appearance to GP lenses, but are instead made of rigid plastic that is not permeable to oxygen. Hard lenses have become outclassed and virtually replaced by GP lenses and are thus rarely prescribed today.
1998 saw the introduction of new soft contact lenses called silicone hydrogel lenses. These lenses have become the most popular type of soft lens prescribed today because of their greater permeability to oxygen than what conventional soft lenses has.
Contact Lens Wearing Time
There are 2 types of contact lenses based on the classification of wearing time:
- Daily wear contacts
- Extended wear contacts
“Continuous wear” describes an instance in which contact lenses are worn for 30 consecutive nights, which is the maximum wearing time that the FDA has approved for certain brands of extended wear lenses.
Disposal Intervals for Contact Lenses
Contact lenses, especially soft contacts, should be frequently replaced to prevent the accumulation of lens deposits and contamination that increase the risk of eye infections.
Soft lenses have several general classifications based on the frequency of their discarding:
- Daily disposable – these should be discarded after a single day of wear
- Disposable (used for overnight wear) – these lenses should be discarded after having been worn for a week
- Disposable (used for daytime wear) – these should be discarded after a wearing period of two weeks
- Continuous wear (used for 30-day wear) – these lenses should be thrown away after having been worn for a month
- Planned replacement – these should be discarded on a monthly basis or less frequently, depending on the circumstances
GP contact lenses have a greater resistance to lens deposits and thus do not need to be discarded as frequently as soft lenses do. Often, GP lenses have longevity of as long as being able to last at least a year before they have to be replaced.
Contact Lens Designs
There are many different lens designs that specifically correct various types of vision problems:
- Spherical – the most common design of contact lenses. Spherical soft contact lenses can correct both myopia and hyperopia, whereas spherical GP lenses can treat myopia, hyperopia, and astigmatism.
- Toric – soft and GP lenses that possess multiple lens powers to correct astigmatism.
- Bifocal and multifocal – soft and GP contact lenses with different zones for near and distance vision to correct presbyopia.
- Orthokeratology – GP lenses that were designed solely to reshape the cornea during sleep, which provides lens-free, daytime wear.
More Contact Lens Features
Colored Lenses – soft contacts are available in a plethora of different colors that can enhance the natural color of your eyes, such as making your green eyes even greener. There are some colored soft lenses can change the color of your eyes entirely, ex. from brown to blue
Special-Effect Lenses – these types of lenses are AKA theatrical, gothic, Halloween or costume lenses. These soft lenses take the coloration effect further by allowing you to look like anything you want to be, whether it’s a dog, a vampire, or something else
Prosthetic Lenses – these are colored contact lenses that are usually used for more medically oriented purposes. These can be used to help those people who have disfigured eyes due to accidents or disease by applying a custom-colored soft lens to mask the defect and match the appearance of their normal eye.
Soft Contact Lenses:
Soft contact lenses are the most frequently prescribed because of their tremendous comfort. They are usually prescribed for those patients with astigmatism or dry eyes and can even change the color of your eyes. Their features include:
- Daily wear – they can be worn up to 12 hours at a time, but they have to be removed and cleaned at night
- Extended wear – they can be worn more flexibly than a daily wear schedule
- Disposable – they are meant to be worn for a short time before then being discarded
- Color changing – they may change the your eye color even if your vision doesn’t have to be corrected
Hard Contact Lenses:
These are also referred to as rigid or gas-permeable lenses (GP lenses). Hard contact lenses provide better visual acuity and can treat nearsightedness (myopia) or astigmatism. However, hard contact lenses may have a longer adjusting period than that of soft contact lenses.
Advantages of gas permeable lenses
- GP lenses allow your eyes to “breathe” better.
GP lenses are more permeable to oxygen, allowing more of it to reach the cornea. This reduces the risk of eye problems caused by hypoxia, which denotes reduced oxygen supply. GP lenses provide a greater oxygen supply than most soft lenses do because:
- The silicone-containing lens materials of GP lenses themselves are more permeable to oxygen than many soft lens materials. Nowadays, the new silicone hydrogel soft lenses are comparable to GPs in their ability to transmit oxygen.
- GP lenses have a smaller diameter than do soft lenses, so they will cover up less of the cornea.
- GP lenses hold their shape and move on the eye with each blink. This movement helps pump oxygen-containing tears underneath the lens. Soft lenses conform to the shape of the cornea and thus have only minimal movement with blinks, so little or no tears will circulate under soft lenses.
- GP lenses provide sharper vision.
Since GP lenses are custom-machined to a smooth surface and maintain their shape on the eye, they provide better visual acuity than do soft lenses, whose shape and clarity tends to fluctuate if they start to dry out. GP lenses also provide a far more stable and accurate correction of astigmatism.
- GP lenses last longer.
Due to the rigidity of GP lenses, there’s no worry about ripping or tearing them. It’s also easier to keep them clean and they don’t need to be replaced as frequently as soft lenses. With proper maintenance, a single pair of GP lenses can last at least a year, making them more cost-efficient in the long run.
- GP lenses may slow the progression of nearsightedness.
In addition to their other advantages, some studies have suggested that wearing GP lenses may retard the progression of myopia in some children. GP contact lenses are also used for orthokeratology, in which specially designed contacts are worn during sleep in order to reshape the cornea and thus improve vision.
The Downsides of GP Contact Lenses
There are some potential disadvantages of GP lenses that make it impossible for everyone to want to wear them, which include:
- Need for adaptation.
Unlike soft lenses, which are comfortable right from the get-go, you may need a few weeks before you can wear GP lenses comfortably all day. Initially, you may only be able to wear the lenses for a few hours daily before your corneas can fully adapt to them. But if you can bear the wait for those first few days, you may be pleasantly surprised at how comfortable the GP lenses feel. Many people who switch from soft lenses to GP lenses say GP lenses are more comfortable than soft lenses after their eyes have fully adapted and that they have experienced conspicuously better visual clarity.
- Inability to wear part-time.
You have to wear the GP lenses on a daily basis in order to fully adapt to and stay comfortable wearing them. If you stop wearing them for even a few days, then you will become more aware that the lenses are there on your eyes and you’ll have to re-adapt to the lenses.
- Increased possibility of dislodging.
Since GP lenses are smaller than soft contact lenses, they can dislodge from your eyes while you’re participating in contact sports or if you rub your eyes aggressively.
- Vulnerability to debris.
Because GP lenses don’t conform to the shape of your eye like soft lenses do, it’s possible for sand, dust, and other debris to get underneath your lenses on a windy day. Wearing wraparound sunglasses outdoors can minimize this risk.
- Higher lens replacement costs.
Because GP lenses are custom-made to the shape of your eye, they are far more expensive than soft contact lenses to replace if you lose them. Also, it may take up to a week to get the replacement lenses. It’s recommended that you purchase a spare pair and be safe rather than sorry in order to avoid the inconvenience of having to be without your GP lenses if you lose or break one.
Best of Both Worlds?
Because comfort is the primary disadvantage of the use of GP lenses, you may be interested in the innovation known as the hybrid contact lens. These lenses have a GP center, surrounded by a soft lens “skirt” of sorts. The hybrid lenses are custom-designed to provide the same visual clarity and acuity as GP lenses and a comfortability that rivals that of soft lenses.
Call for more information and a trial fitting
To see if GP lenses are the right contact lenses for you, call our office for more information and to schedule a trial fitting.
Toric Contact Lenses for Astigmatism
If you have astigmatism, which is a common eye condition in which the eye isn’t perfectly round, but rather more football- or egg-shaped, then you’ll need a special type of contact lenses called toric lenses for clear vision.
Toric contact lenses can come in both soft and rigid gas permeable (GP or RGP) lens materials. Most contact lens wearers who need toric contacts choose soft toric lenses.
How do toric lenses work?
When you have astigmatism, there are different meridians in your eye that need different amounts of correction for myopia or hyperopia. Imagine that the front of your eye is like the face of a clock: A line drawn from the 12 to the 6 is one meridian, a line from the 1 to the 7 is another, and so on.
Soft toric contact lenses have different powers in different meridians of the lenses to correct the astigmatism in the eyes. They also possess certain design elements that keep the lenses from rotating on your eyes, ensuring that the meridians of the lenses stay aligned with the meridians of your eyes.
Today, you can choose from a multitude of different brands and styles of soft toric lenses. So if Brand A is an inadequate fit or rotates too much, then Brand B may be a better fit for you with a better performance. And if soft toric lenses don’t sufficiently correct your astigmatism, then GP lenses will often do the trick.
Toric contact lens cost
It takes more time and requires more expertise to properly fit toric lenses than it does to fit regular soft contacts. Several office visits are compulsory. Sometimes, several different lenses must be evaluated in order to guarantee the best possible fit. Consequently, the fee for fitting toric lenses will be higher than our fee for a regular contact lens fitting. The lenses themselves also cost more than regular soft lenses. Call our office for more information.
Gas permeable lenses for astigmatism
If you have anywhere from a mild to moderate form of astigmatism, then you may want to consider GP contact lenses. GP lenses will usually provide greater visual acuity than do soft toric lenses. Due to the rigidity of GP lenses and its ability to maintain the shape on the eye, a toric GP design usually isn’t needed. Layers of tears that form in between your eyes and the spherical back surface of the GP lenses correct astigmatism that develops due to the unequal curvatures of the corneas.
If regular GP lenses fail to adequately correct the astigmatism, then customized toric GP lens designs are also available.
Many options in soft toric lenses
Today, there are many brands of soft toric lenses available and you have a choice of lenses approved for daily wear and extended wear. There are also soft toric lenses that can enhance or change your eye color and multifocal toric lenses if you have presbyopia.
Call for more information
Call our office today to learn more about contact lens options for astigmatism and to schedule a contact lens consultation to find out which lenses are the best solution for you.
Bifocal and Multifocal Contact Lenses
Bifocal and multifocal contact lenses are devised to give you good vision once you reach middle age. Beginning at your 40s, you may need to hold any and all reading materials farther from your eyes in order to see it clearly. This indicates that you have the eye condition called presbyopia.
Both types of contact lenses are available in both soft and rigid gas permeable (GP) materials.
Bifocals, multifocals – What’s the difference?
Bifocal contacts lenses are similar to bifocal eyeglass lenses in that they have two powers – one that provides clear distance vision and one that allows clear near vision. Multifocal (describes all lenses with multiple powers, including bifocals) contact lenses are just like progressive eyeglass lenses and have a range of powers for seeing clearly both up close and in the distance and everywhere in between.
Types of multifocal contact lenses
Based on design, there are basically 2 different types of multifocals:
- Simultaneous vision lenses – Both near and distance zones of the lens are in front of your pupil simultaneously. Although this might sound unworkable, after a short period of time, your visual system will learn to apply the power you need and ignore the others, depending on what you are looking at. These lenses are the most popular type of multifocal contact lenses. In the overwhelming majority of the time, simultaneous vision lenses are usually soft lenses, and come in two designs:
- Alternating vision (or translating) lenses – These are GP multifocal lenses, designed similarly to bifocal eyeglass lenses. The top/bottom part of the lens has the distance/near power, respectively. When and as you look straight ahead, your eye looks through the distance part of the lens. When and as you look down, your lower eyelid holds the lens in place while your pupil moves, or translates, into the near zone of the lens for reading tasks.
- Concentric ring designs – bifocal lenses with either the near or distance power in the center of the lens, surrounded by alternating rings of distance and near powers.
- Aspheric designs –progressive-style multifocals with many powers mixed across the lens surface. Some designs will have the distance power in the center of the lens, whereas others have the near power in the center.
Will multifocal contact lenses work for me?
Most people who try multifocals are happy with them. But you will have some compromises to make when you wear these lenses. For example, your distance vision with the multifocals may not seem clear enough. There may be some cases in which you have troubles with glare at night or you may not even be able to see small print.
Sometimes, presbyopia can be better corrected with the usage of a (modified) monovision fitting of regular, AKA single vision, contact lenses.
Monovision involves you wearing a single vision contact lens on one eye for distance vision and on the other eye with a prescription power for near vision. With modified monovision, you will be wearing a single vision distance lens on one eye and a multifocal contact lens on the other eye to help you have clearer and sharper near vision.
In order to figure out the best contact lenses to meet your vision needs when you reach “bifocal age,” call our office for a consultation.
Which Contact Lens Is Right for You?
You will first need to schedule a comprehensive eye exam and contact lens consultation with your eye doctor. During this exam, the optometrist will measure the health of your eyes and assess your ability to wear contact lenses, and counsel you about what to expect when wearing contacts.
Next comes the fitting of the contact lenses itself. There will be detailed measurements taken of your eyes. You will also have to wear trial lenses in order to find the best possible fit and determine if you can comfortably wear contact lenses.
The fitting process takes more than just a single visit to your eye doctor. You will be asked to return for follow-up visits to make sure that the lenses are a proper fit and remain comfortable even after prolonged periods of wear. In some cases, the size and/or design of the lenses could be changed before the process is completed.
Your prescription for contact lenses is written only after the process has been completed and your ECP is satisfied with the long-term fit of your lenses and how well your eyes are able to tolerate contact lens wear.
Contact Lens Wear and Care
Caring for your contact lenses involves cleaning, disinfecting and storing them and has become much easier than it used to be. In most cases today, a single care solution is all it takes to clean, rinse, and store your lenses. If you choose to get daily disposable soft lenses, then routine lens care will be eliminated altogether since you’re going to discard the contacts at the end of the day.
Your optometrist or other ECP will teach you how to safely apply, remove, and care for your lenses during your contact lens fitting consultation.
Eye Exams for Contact Lenses
For many people, contact lenses have been proven to be more convenient and satisfying in their capabilities for vision correction than eyeglasses have. Here’s what’s involved in a typical contact lens exam and fitting:
A comprehensive eye exam comes first
You will first need a comprehensive eye examination before you can be fitted for your contact lenses. This exam involves your optometrist determining your prescription for corrective lenses (which is just an eyeglasses prescription at this point) and checks for any problems with the health of your eyes, or any other issues that may obstruct successful contact lens wear.
If your eye exam finds that everything is good to go, then the next step will be the contact lens consultation and fitting.
What to expect during a contact lens fitting
The first step that comes in the process is the consideration of your lifestyle and your preferences regarding contact lenses. These considerations may involve whether or not you might want to change your eye color with color contact lenses, or if you’re interested in wearing daily disposable contacts or overnight disposable wear. Although most people tend to go with soft contact lenses, you may want to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of rigid GP lenses will before you make your decision.
If you are over the age of 40 and need bifocals, then your optometrist or ECP will discuss ways in which you can deal with this need, including the usage o multifocal contact lenses and monovision.
Contact lens measurements
Just as that well-known axiom that one shoe size doesn’t fit all feet, one contact lens size doesn’t fit all eyes. If the curvature of a contact lens doesn’t correspond to the shape of your eye, then you may experience discomfort or even damage to your eye. Measurements that will be taken to determine the best-fit contact lenses for your eyes include:
- Corneal curvature:
An instrument known as a keratometer is used to measure the curvature of your eye’s cornea. This measurement helps the ECP select the best curve and diameter for your contact lenses.
If your corneal curvature is found to be somewhat irregular due to astigmatism, then you may be obligated to wear toric contact lenses.
At one time, only GP contact lenses could correct for astigmatism. But evolutions in contact lens technology have made it possible for soft toric lenses to be able to treat astigmatism. These lenses are now available in disposable, multifocal, extended wear and colored versions.
In some cases, a detailed mapping of the surface of your cornea called corneal topography is needed. This procedure provides extremely accurate details about surface characteristics of the cornea, with different contours in the map being represented by varying colors.
- Pupil and iris size:
The size of your pupil and iris (the colored part of your eye) can be crucial in determining the ideal design for your contact lenses, especially if you’re interested in wearing GP contact lenses. These measurements may be taken with a lighted instrument called a biomicroscope, AKA a slit lamp, or even simply with a hand-held ruler or template card.
- Tear film evaluation:
In order to successfully wear contact lenses, you must have an adequate supply of tear film to keep both the lenses and your cornea sufficiently hydrated and moist. This evaluation may be performed with the application of a liquid dye to your eye so that your tears can be seen with the slit lamp. Another option includes the placement of a small paper strip under your lower eyelid to see how well your tears will moisten the paper. If you have dry eyes, then contact lenses may be out of the question for you. Also, the amount of tears that you produce may determine which type of contact lens material will work best for you.
In many cases, trial lenses are used in order to confirm the contact lens selection. These lenses will be placed on your eye, with the ECP using a slit lamp to evaluate the position and movement of the lenses as you blink and look in different directions. You will also be asked how the lenses feel in order to get a feeling of how comfortable they are.
Trial lenses will need to be worn for at least 15 minutes so that any initial excess tearing of the eye stops and the tear film can stabilize. If all goes well, then you will be given instructions on how to care for your lenses and how long to wear them for at a time. You will also receive instruction on how to handle, apply, and remove the lenses.
Follow-up visits confirm the fit and safety
The contact lens fitting process will involve a number of follow-up visits so that your ECP can confirm that the lenses are fitting properly and that your eyes are able to tolerate wearing the contact lenses. A dye may be used to evaluate if the lenses damaging to your cornea or making your eyes too dry.
Often, the optometrist will be able to see warning signs before you are even aware that you are developing a problem with your contact lens wear. If any such warning signs are evident in your follow-up visits, then a number of solutions may be recommended, including trying on a different type of lens or lens material, using a different means of caring for the lenses, or adjusting the amount of time that you can wear your contact lenses for. There are some cases in which it may be necessary to discontinue wearing contact lens altogether.
Your contact lens prescription
After the ECP has found proper fit contact lenses that is comfortable for you and provides good vision, then your doctor will be able to write a contact lens prescription for you. This prescription describes the contact lens power, the curvature of the lens, AKA the base curve, the diameter of the lens, and the name and manufacturer of the lens. Additional specifications may also be included with GP contact lenses
Routine contact lens exams
Regardless of how often or for how long you wear your contact lenses, your eyes should be examined at least annually to ascertain that your eyes are continuing to tolerate wearing the contacts, and show no signs of ill effects from having worn the lenses.
Find Contact Lenses at Couture Optical
At Couture Optical, we offer all kinds and brands of contact lenses that are specifically tailored for your needs. It is crucial that your lenses are fitted according to your prescription, the shape of your eyes, and specific needs.
Besides the standard prescription eyeglasses and fashionable sunglasses that we have in stock, Couture Optical also offers the top brands of contact lenses for sale, such as Acuvue, Air Optix, PureVision, SofLens, Avaira, Biofinity and Proclear, which are just some of the contact brands that we have to offer. We offer a multitude of daily, weekly and monthly disposable contact lenses, all at competitive pricing.
If you have any queries regarding ordering contact lenses or just more information about contact lenses, then you should contact our customer service department at 718-975-4824, or visit our store for all your hard and soft contact lens needs.
The right lens, the right fit
Our optometrists are skilled with the fitting of contact lenses, adapting new contact lens users and assisting seasoned users alike with new choices. Regardless if you have or have not been able to previously wear contacts, we may be able to fit you successfully. The fitting process that we employ ensures that you will have the right type of contact lenses and prescription power before your supply is ordered.
- What are contact lens fitting fees?
- “Contact lens fitting” denotes the process that begins after the initial comprehensive eye examination and ends when a successful fitting has been achieved – or, in the case that a prescription is being renewed, the prescriber determines that the prescription doesn’t have to be changed. Reprinted from the Fairness to Contact Lens Consumers Act, the contact lens fitting fees include any and all services related to testing, fitting of the lenses, and the essential follow-up visits as are determined by the optometrist. Once the fitting period has ended, you will then receive a prescription for your contact lenses. After you have received your written prescription, there will be follow-up care done on a fee-per-visit basis.
- What is the difference between hard contacts and soft contacts?
- Hard contacts are more rigid, but more breathable than soft contact lenses, and provide clear, sharp vision and will address most common vision problems. Soft contacts are better able to match the shape of your eye and stay put well. They are comfortable to wear and come in several varieties such as daily wear, extended wear, and disposable.
- Can people with astigmatism wear contact lenses?
- The blurred vision that comes with astigmatism is caused by the improper focusing of a point/spot of light at two different planes. Special contact lenses known as toric lenses could help treat the astigmatism. Those cases of astigmatism that are minor can be corrected with the usage of soft contact lenses; moderate to major cases of astigmatism can be treated with hard contacts.
- What is the best way to care for contact lenses?
- You need to make sure your hands are clean and dry before you start handling contact lenses. When you’re cleaning your lenses, ascertain that you’re using sterile products that are specifically catered for this purpose. You also have to take care to remove your contacts at night before going to sleep. Regardless if you have extended wear contacts or another type of contact lens, you can help maintain the health of your eyes by intermittently removing the contacts. Lastly, you should replace your contacts as required.
- How do I insert contacts?
Although the process may be daunting at first, it’s actually quite simple. Our staff will train you on the process of contact lenses insertion during your appointment.