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

It’s a choice each person needs to make for themselves but generally people get contact lenses because they’re sick of wearing glasses all the time and aren’t keen on the idea of eye surgery. You will need to book an eye appointment with an optometrist to see if you qualify for lenses. If your eyes are not naturally well lubricated enough, you may not be an ideal candidate for lenses, but only a qualified eye care professional can tell you that. The optometrist will also measure the curvature of your eyes so they can recommend the best lenses for your needs. It’s important to visit a qualified optometrist to ensure you get the best advice and care for your eyes.

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.’

Contact lens case

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. 

Bupa Optical

At Bupa Optical, your eye health is our priority. That's why we start with assessing the health of your eyes, what you can see and what we can do to keep you looking great. 

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