Seunga (Jasmine) Han, PharmD Candidate
Did You Know…?
Did you know that despite what the name may suggest, contact lenses don’t actually touch your eyes, but instead sit on a cushion made of tears? Over the years, contact lenses have gained popularity more the many advantages they offer:1
- A more natural look
- No fogging from temperature changes, perspiration or weather
- No annoying reflections or peripheral obstructions
With the sheer number of products available in the market, it can be quite overwhelming to choose which contact lenses to use. To get started on this, let’s first take a look at the different types of contact lenses:1
- Soft lenses: are made from silicone hydrogels and are the most common type of contact lenses used by Canadians. While they offer the most comfort, they come with more maintenance cost, are more fragile, and are more likely to increase the risk of microbial keratitis (infection of the cornea).
- Rigid gas-permeable (RGP) lenses: also known as hard lenses, offer increased oxygen flow and comfort while maintaining quality optics and durability. While they‘re associated with fewer complications and offer long-term clear vision, they’re less popular as they’re often perceived as uncomfortable.
How Often Should I Replace My Contact Lenses?
This depends on the replacement schedule you choose to follow and the type of contact lenses you purchase. Luckily, based on your preference, you have various options to choose from:1
- Conventional: replace after one or more years.
- Planned replacement: replace every two weeks, one month or three months. If you’re worried about eye infections and cost, but wanting something that offers convenience and comfort, planned replacement programs may be something to consider.
- Daily: use brand new soft lenses every day. This is the ideal option for occasional users who wear contact lenses but don’t want to deal with maintenance.
What About Eye Infections?
This is a common concern that many prospective contact lens users have. While it’s a common risk associated with contact lens use, it can be minimized by following these tips:
- Always follow your optometrist’s instruction on how to wear, clean and store your contact lenses2-4
- See your optometrist regularly for contact lens and eye exams3
- When cleaning, rub your contact lenses with your fingers, then rinse the lenses with solution before soaking them. Use the “rub and rinse” method even when the solution is labelled as a “no rub” solution4
- Don’t go to sleep with your contact lenses. Studies have shown that this can increase the chance of eye infection by 6-8 times2
- Always use fresh and correct contact lens solution.1-4 NEVER reuse old solution or use water2,4
- Don’t shower or swim with your contact lenses2,3
- Wash your hands and dry them well before handling contact lenses3,4
- Don’t wear contact lenses for more than 24 hours1
- If you’re ever given medications for your eyes, talk to a healthcare provider regarding its use with contact lenses in place. Additionally, keep an eye out for other classes of oral medications that may affect your eyes including sedatives, hypnotics, antihistamines, and muscle relaxants to name a few.
Also, if you notice any of the following symptoms, it’s likely that further investigation is warranted. So, make sure to pay close attention to the different symptoms you experience and seek help from an optometrist:1
- Pain when inserting or wearing the lenses or after wearing them
- Burning sensation that causes excessive tearing
- Difficulty keeping your eyes open, severe or persistent haze, or fog while wearing the lens
- Redness, irritation or itching
- Poor vision
The Bottom Line
As you can see, various factors could play a role when determining whether you should use contact lenses or not. Additionally, it’s important to take responsibilities when caring for your eyes and contact lenses to prevent complications. If this was something that interested you, stay tuned for the next article on various contact lens solutions!