Contact lenses 101: A beginner's guide
There’s a lot to consider when using contact lenses. Here are some top tips to take care when trying out or using your lenses.
Deciding to get contact lenses
Types of lenses
There are many different kinds of contact lenses but there are two main categories, soft lenses and hard lenses. Soft lenses are the most commonly used, with soft disposables being far more popular than the older-type conventional, or non-disposable, lenses. Disposable lenses are either daily wear or extended wear.
Daily Wear lenses
Daily wear lenses are made of a soft malleable plastic that allows oxygen to pass through to your cornea. They are sometimes available in a variety of tints. Each brand and type will have their own shelf life but daily wear lenses can last days or weeks but they need to be replaced as often as the package indicates. Daily wear lenses come in daily, fortnightly or monthly options.
Extended Wear lenses
Some extended wear lenses can be worn for up to 30 days without removal, which is excellent for people who don’t like the maintenance of daily wear contacts. The lenses carry more risk of infection. This is because they’re inserted for long periods of time and also need additional monitoring, so that means more frequent trips to the optometrist. Even though you can wear extended wear contacts to bed, this doesn’t mean you should. If your eyes react to this routine, it’s best to revert to taking them out before bed each night.
Bupa Optometrist Karen Makin says ‘The current trend in lens prescriptions is leaning more towards daily disposable brands. This type of lens is worn all day and then removed and discarded at night. They don’t require cleaning, the wearer gets a fresh pair every day, they’re convenient and there’s always spares available for emergencies.’
Caring for your lenses
Here are some extra tips to take care of your eyes, when using contact lenses:
- Always wash your hands before handling contact lenses.
- Follow the advice of your optometrist, not another contact lens wearer. Different brands and types have different requirements, so always consult a professional first.
- Clean and disinfect lenses every time you remove them.
- Never re-use solution. Always pour it fresh from the bottle.
- Clean your lens case daily and allow to air dry.
- Replace your lens case regularly, usually monthly.
- Get regular checkups to make sure your eyes are handling the contact lenses well and that they’re a good fit for your vision problems.
- Always have a second pair available if something happens to the first pair. This will prevent irresponsible emergency solutions like cleaning them with water.
- Get a replacement schedule and put it in your calendar so you never miss a replacement cycle
Bupa has developed an exclusive range of contact lenses, named Visual, available online or in-store from Bupa Optical. This range has been developed with industry experts and professionals, providing optimal care for your eyes.