New To Contact Lenses? 5 Common Questions Answered
If you have never worn contact lenses before, then chances are you’ll find buying them online daunting.
In the last year, our Clinical Team has received hundreds of questions on how to get started with buying contact lenses online. We believe the process should be as easy to understand as possible, so we’ve written up answers to five of the most commonly asked questions.
1. I currently wear glasses. Do I need a special prescription for contact lenses? How do I tell the difference between the two?
If you already wear glasses, you’ll need a separate prescription for contact lenses. Glasses and contact lenses are different, and you shouldn’t buy contact lenses with a glasses prescription.
Contact lenses have extra measurements such as diameter, base curve, etc. Everyone’s eyes are unique, so a contact lens prescription ensures you have lenses which are comfortable and of the right fit.
Here are the measurements you’ll find in a contact lens prescription:
- Brand: The brand of contact lenses you have been fitted with will always be on your contact lens prescription.
- Base Curve: This measures the curve of the lens to your eye. Usually measured in millimetres but also as flat, median or steep.
- Diameter: This is the diameter (width) of your lens, measured in millimetres.
- Power/Sphere: This tells you how strong your prescription is, and if it is for near or far vision. It is measured in dioptres.
Astigmatic wearers will need the extra measurements of cylinder and axis. Presbyopic wearers will need the extra measurements of addition and dominant.
Since each person will have individual measurements, all of this makes it essential to have a proper fitting if you are considering wearing lenses.
2. What are the different types of contact lenses? Which ones are best for me?
Everyone’s eyes are unique. There are many different types of contact lenses to suit each individual’s requirements. Here are some of the most common lenses you can ask your optician about:
- Daily Disposables: These types of lenses are often the most convenient, great for occasional wear and sports. This makes them ideal for wearers with busy lifestyles. Daily lenses can be the most convenient and hygienic because you only wear them once.
- Monthly Disposables: Designed for monthly wear, these lenses are great for the regular wearer. Depending on your personal wearing schedule, they may work out cheaper to daily contact lenses, but require care and cleaning.
- Extended wear: Designed for overnight or continuous wear (usually up to 6 nights), these lenses are ideal for particularly busy lifestyles. Ask your optician if this lens is suitable for you.
- Toric: Designed to correct vision for those suffering from astigmatism. The strength of astigmatism varies from person to person, so no ‘one lens fits all’ solution exists. This is a type of prescription. They are available in daily disposables, monthly and other lens types.
- Multifocal: Due to aging we tend to become deficient in near and distance vision. Multifocal lenses are ideal for wearers with many prescriptions. They are designed to provide a gradual transition in vision. This is a type of prescription. They are available in daily disposables, monthly and other lens types.
- Coloured: Ideal for the fashion conscious, these lenses allow you to change your eyes’ appearance and colour. Contrary to what some may think, coloured lenses need fitting just like regular contact lenses. These lenses are available in daily and monthly disposables.
Do note that only an optician who has examined your eyes can prescribe lenses for you. This will take into account several different factors such as your prescription, health of your eyes, eye shape, lifestyle and wearing preferences.
3. Can I switch from daily to monthly lenses?
Because of how unique everyone’s eyes are, it is essential that you see your optician before purchasing a different type of lens. Even if they are of the same brand, you’ll need a new contact lens fitting before switching. Ask your optician about trialing a new type of contact lens, as they will be able to select which ones will be most suitable for you.
It’s quite common for a friend or a family member to recommend the lenses they wear, because they find them comfortable. As everyone’s eyes are different, a lens which is suitable for one person may not be suitable for another.
4. Can I extend the life of or reuse my contact lenses?
You can run into a serious risk of infection if you reuse or extend the life of lenses beyond what they were designed for.
Once removed from the eye, you must discard daily disposable lenses and never reuse them again.
You can wear monthly lenses daily for up to a month, dependent on your optician’s advice. Similarly, you can wear lenses suitable for extended wear continuously for up 6 nights (again, only under the supervision of your optician). However, you must replace them with fresh new lenses after the recommended wear period is over.
Let’s say, for example, you were to wear a pair of monthly contact lenses for only 15 days that month. You will not be able to wear them again for 15 additional days the next month. Once opened, monthly lenses are only safe for 30 continuous days. You must replace your monthly lenses with a fresh pair at the end of a 30 day cycle from the day of opening.
5. How do I care for my contact lenses?
It is important that you take care of your contact lenses. Incorrect care is often the cause of serious eye infections. Therefore, it is very important that you always follow the proper care guidelines for your contact lens set by your optician.
When handling contact lenses, hygiene is crucial. Always wash and dry your hands before handling lenses or touching your eyes. This helps to avoid any dirt or foreign bodies from coming in contact with your eye, potentially causing irritation or infection.
Daily disposable contact lenses require no cleaning as they are disposed of immediately after use.
Monthly and extended wear lenses require proper cleaning and storage:At the end of the day you must carefully remove your lenses one by one and clean them with a cleaning solution (a disinfectant solution used to clean contact lenses) recommended by your optician.
- Rub your lens on the palm of your hand.
- Rinse the lens again to remove any dirt or bacteria.
- Take a clean case and place your lens in. Next, fill the case with fresh cleaning solution.
- Disinfection time will vary from lens to lens. You’ll find the recommended time on the package.
- Repeat the process for your other lenses.
This is a guide for multipurpose solution lenses only. The guidelines for hard lenses and hydrogen peroxide solution lenses will be different. Ask your optician what cleaning and storage regime to follow for your lenses.