Eye Health Central

Contact Lenses Basics

Things you should know about contact lenses

What You Should Know Before You Get Contact Lenses

Contact Lenses

Contact lenses are small thin lenses that are applied directly to the eye to provide vision correction. Today, they are one of the most popular ways to correct vision problems and they are worn successfully by an estimated 150 million people worldwide.

In most cases, modern contact lenses are manufactured from a special type of soft plastic called silicone hydrogel. This material is gas permeable, meaning that it allows oxygen to travel through the plastic and to the surface of the eye.

Contact lenses have been around longer than you think. The History of contact lenses can be an interesting topic to explore and while the technologies used to make corrective lenses today only go back around 50 years, Leonardo da Vinci was the first person to consider the idea of contact lenses in the 16th century.

Why Should I Choose Contact Lenses?

There are many reasons that people choose to wear contact lenses instead of eye glasses. This can include 

  • Contact lenses are easy to use and don't have an effect on the wearer's appearance. 
  • Contact Lenses are the safer option for those who lead active lifestyles, eye glasses can be a cumbersome and sometimes dangerous during sports, as the lenses and frames can break, causing damage to the eyes. 
  • Contact lenses don't fog up in cold weather like spectacles
  • Contact lenses offer an uninterrupted field-of-vision compared to eye glasses. 

If you don't want to wear spectacles, laser eye surgery is another option. But many are wary of this technology and the non-invasive nature of contact lenses can be a much more attractive solution.


What Kind Of Contact Lenses Are Available?

For many years, a person who wanted to wear contacts would buy a single pair and wear it for up to a year. They would be required to spend quite a lot of time and money keeping their lenses clean. 

Today, contact lenses can be used to treat a wide range of vision problems, including astigmatism, presbyopia, hypermetropia and myopia and most lenses are disposable, either monthlydaily or for extended wear versions offering a much wider choice. Your lifestyle and the time you want to invest in taking care of your lenses will help determine which is the best type for you.


Daily Contact Lenses

A great option if you are new to contact lenses, they are comfortable, healthy, easy to take care of and fit in with most lifestyles. Simply wear once and throw away.

Monthly Contact Lenses

Come in a wider variety of fitting options, suitable for almost every eye care need, often the lens of choice for people with high power prescriptions. Designed to be worn for up to 30 days during the day and removed at night for cleaning and storage.

Two weekly Contact Lenses

Very similar to the monthly disposable lenses, but healthier as they are designed to be replaced after 2 weeks they require removing, cleaning and storing every evening.

Continuous Wear Contact Lenses

Also called extended wear contacts lenses are probably the simplest of lenses to use, you simply put them in at the beginning of the month, and change them after approximately 30 days. No cleaning, disinfecting or removing your lenses. These are not for everyone though, because you wear the lenses 24 hours a day they need careful fitting by an Optician and follow up appointments to make sure the lenses are suitable for your eyes.

Continuous wear contact lenses can be used to treat a wide range of vision problems, including astigmatism, presbyopia, hypermetropia and myopia.

Even if you don't need your eyesight corrected, you may choose to wear coloured contact lenses to enhance your appearance as these are available in plano - meaning they have no power.


Can I buy Contact Lenses Without A Prescription?

All contact lenses, are medical devices, regulated by the government. Prescription contact lenses and cosmetic contact lenses all require a prescription from an Optometrist or an Eye Doctor, this is because even common complications such as infection and inflammation might lead to vision loss or blindness. 


Are Contact Lenses Safe?

When used correctly contact lenses are a safe, comfortable and convenient way of correcting your vision, used incorrectly they can cause complications, such as irritation, infection and more serious eye issues. 

According to a leading contact lens manufacturer, Coopervision, there are some simple steps you can to increase the safety of wearing contact lenses:

  • Buy contact lenses from a legitimate source. 
  • Keep your contact lenses well cared for and clean. 
  • Follow all the instructions around your contact lenses and lens products.
  • Stick to your wear and replacement schedule.
  • Talk to your Optometrist if you’re thinking about contact lenses.

Your eyes should be tested at least every two years, and those over 70 should get an eye test every year. Depending on your age and other circumstances, you may also be eligible for free eye tests on the NHS.

If you're looking to buy lenses, Contactlenses.co.uk offers a fabulous range of products to choose from, with affordable items to suit every requirement.


Author: John Dreyer Optometrist Bsc(Hons), MCOPTOM, DipCLP
Created: 3 Jun 2016, Last modified: 11 Sep 2020