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Contact Lenses, an Alternative to Wearing Glasses

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Contact Lenses, an Alternative to Wearing Glasses

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Are you thinking about using contact lenses? Read the article to clear all your doubts about contact lenses, their types, advantages, and disadvantages.

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Preetha. J

Published At January 22, 2015
Reviewed AtJanuary 22, 2024

What Are Contact Lenses?

Contact lenses can correct refractive errors if a person is having vision problems. They are also frequently used to change the appearance of the eyes. Contact lenses are small thin lenses placed directly over the cornea (eye's surface) to improve a patient's vision.

Types of vision problems that require contact lenses are:

  • Nearsightedness (myopia).

  • Farsightedness (hyperopia).

  • Blurred vision (astigmatism).

  • Age-related loss of close-up vision (presbyopia).

Contact lenses are classified in many ways according to their material, primary function, wear schedule, and replacement schedule.

What Are the Types of Contact Lenses?

The two main types of contact lenses:

  • Rigid Contact Lenses - Rigid gas permeable lenses are used in certain medical conditions like keratoconus (an eye disorder in which the cornea attains a more conical shape than its normal curvature).

  • Soft Contact Lenses - Soft contact lenses are most commonly used nowadays and physiologically more suitable. They are made of silicone hydrogel. These are available in various commercial forms with slight modifications as daily disposable ones, weekly disposable ones, to monthly to yearly disposable ones.

What Are the Tips for Usage of Contact Lenses?

  • Contact lenses have to be carefully handled to get better results.

  • Wash your hands thoroughly before wearing the lenses.

  • Store the lenses in the recommended solution after use.

  • Clean, rinse and disinfect your lenses each time after use with lens solution.

  • If you notice any redness, burning sensation, or discharge from the eyes, immediately stop wearing the lenses and consult an ophthalmologist.

  • Use unexpired lens care solutions for storing lenses and discard the expired ones.

  • Keep the lens care solution bottle closed when not in use.

  • As a precaution, keep your eyes closed if aerosol products are being used while wearing lenses until the spray has settled.

What Are the Advantages of Contact Lenses?

Contact lenses have some distinct advantages over spectacles:

  • Contact lenses are cosmetically more acceptable, especially in high refractive errors where people need to wear thick glasses.

  • They give a wider field of vision.

  • No prismatic effects are present, as seen with glasses.

  • No minimization or magnification of images.

  • It can be used even in high anisometropia (high difference in power in both eyes).

  • It can correct the vision in irregular astigmatism (example: keratoconus).

  • It gives better vision in unilateral or bilateral aphakia (absence of the lens of the eye).

  • Contact lenses are preferred in athletes and sports persons who have very active outdoor living.

  • The appearance of the color of the eyes can be changed to suit your needs. This can also be used to mask the scars in people having corneal scars.

What Are the Uses of Contact Lenses in Other Ocular Conditions?

Contact lenses are used in several ocular conditions:

  • To bandage a small perforation.

  • To cover the cornea after suturing.

  • To prevent symblepharon (adhesion of eyelids to the eyeball) after chemical injuries.

  • In dry eye syndromes.

  • To prevent irritation from lashes in case of entropion (a medical condition involving inward folding of the eyelid - mostly the lower eyelid).

What Are the Disadvantages of Contact Lenses?

In spite of having considerable advantages, they are not free of side effects. Most of the side effects are reduced due to newer and well-designed recent developments. A few to mention are:

  • Contact lenses need good maintenance. Hygiene during wearing and removal is a must. It has to be stored in contact lens solutions.

  • Some people may be allergic to contact lens material. They may develop allergic reactions like conjunctival congestion, itching, watering, immune response keratitis, and conjunctivitis.

  • Chances of developing conjunctivitis and a corneal ulcer (acanthamoeba) are higher.

  • It may cause corneal opacities by constant microtrauma.

  • Contact lenses cause peripheral corneal neovascularization (excessive ingrowth of blood vessels into the cornea).

  • It may cause acute and chronic corneal hypoxia (low levels of oxygen).

How to Wear Contact Lenses?

  1. Wash and dry the hands thoroughly with soap and a clean towel, as discussed earlier.

  2. Rinse the lens with a solution to remove any dirt or debris.

  3. If it is a new lens or a daily disposable lens, then no need to rinse with the lens care solution.

  4. Always apply and remove the lens from the right eye first.

  5. Place the lens on the tip of the index finger, which is correctly oriented (inside and outside).

  6. Use the other hand to hold the upper eyelid so it will stop the eye from blinking.

  7. Pull down the lower eyelid with the help of the other fingers of the applying hand.

  8. Lift the head up and gently place the lens on the lower part of the eye.

  9. Slowly release the eyelids and gently close your eyes and roll your eyes in a complete circle to allow the lens to settle and then blink. Check by looking at the mirror to make sure the lens is centered on your eye. If the lens has been appropriately settled, it will be comfortable, and the vision will also be clear.

  10. But, if the lens feels uncomfortable, remove it and inspect for damage or debris. If it is damaged, discard it. Otherwise, rinse with more solution and reapply.

How to Remove the Contact Lenses?

Do not forget to wash your hands with soap and dry it with a clean towel. Tilt the head towards the ceiling and pull down the lower eyelid.

  1. Always remove the right side contact lenses first and follow them in the same order while applying and removing them.

  2. With the help of the index finger, touch the lower edge of the lens and slightly push the lens down to the lower white part of the eye.

  3. Now gently squeeze the lens between the thumb and the index finger and remove it.

  4. Remove the other lens also in the same procedure.

How to Avoid Eye Infections Due to Contact Lenses?

  • Wash your hands with soap before touching contact lenses or touching your eyes.

  • Avoid using fashion lenses like non-prescription color lenses or the over-the-counter contact lens unless an optometrist fits them.

  • Do not share your lenses with anyone.

  • Wear lenses on the schedule directed by your optometrist.

  • Restrict the wearing of contact lenses to a maximum of 8 to 10 hours a day.

  • Avoid wearing the lenses during sleep.

  • Avoid rubbing the eyes while wearing the contact lenses.

  • Do not use tap water to clean the lenses.

  • Replace the lens case every three months.


Even if handled with proper care, contact lenses wearers can end up with dry eyes. If you experience itchiness or redness, remove your contact lenses and use lubricating eye drops. If you experience eye pain or extreme sensitivity to light, see your eye doctor for immediate treatment.

Frequently Asked Questions


How Do Contact Lenses Work?

Contact lenses stick to the tears on the eye surface and are movable with eye movements. They are similar to glasses in correcting refractive errors of the eye. They refocus the light directed towards the retina, thereby restoring eye health.


Which Is Better Among Contact Lenses and Glasses?

Glasses are cheaper than contact lenses. They do not need a finger to eye contact, which reduces further eye irritation. Glasses provide mechanical protection to the eye from dust particles. Glasses with ultraviolet ray filters protect from sunlight, laptop, and mobile light. Contact lenses offer a wider field of vision due to their adaptation to the eye. They are also comfortable wearing and do not get away during physical activities involving head movements like sports, dance, etc. Hence it is based on individual needs and preferences.


Which Contact Lens Should I Wear?

Prior consultation with an eye physician is essential to check the eye vision based on which appropriate contacts will be suggested. It is applicable even if you want to wear colored lenses for cosmetic reasons. For example, soft contact lenses are best for people with allergies, bifocal contact lenses for presbyopia, toric lenses for astigmatism, orthokeratology for mild nearsightedness, and so on.


Who Cannot Wear Contact Lenses?

People with a dry eye problem, allergies, dusty or dirty work surroundings, frequent eye infections, inability to handle the lenses with care and hygiene are advised not to wear contacts as they may cause future eye problems.


When Should I Avoid Contact Lenses?

Suppose you experience pain or discomfort, sensitivity to light, redness or discharge in the eye, blurry vision, and itchiness of the eye; it is better to avoid contact lenses and seek an ophthalmologist’s help.


Am I Allergic to Contact Lenses?

Contact lenses by themselves often do not cause allergy as they are made of hypoallergenic material. But a build-up of dust particles, microbes, and products that trigger an allergic reaction can cause eye allergies and irritation. Sometimes the contact lens solution can also cause allergies. Eye allergy is characterized by redness, itching, swelling, excessive tears, discharge, pain, and blurry vision.


For What Amount of Time Can I Wear Contact Lenses?

Based on different people, eye conditions, and types of contact lenses, the wearing period differs. But in general daily wear or one-time use contact lenses can be worn somewhere between eight to sixteen hours a day. They should not be worn during bedtime.


Can I Wear Contacts Daily?

Contact lenses can be worn daily, but they must be removed during bedtime. Usually, 16 hours to 18 hours is the recommended time to wear a contact lens a day. Extended wear lenses are designed to wear even during sleep. However, it is advised to remove them to prevent eye problems.


How Do I Choose the Color of the Contact Lens?

People with fair skin tone can choose bright and dark colors like gray, blue, turquoise blue, purple, and aqua. Most colors suit. Caramel skin tone people can choose bright colors like green, hazel, gray, honey, navy blue, and sapphire blue. People with dusky complexions can choose warm tones like hazel, warm brown, honey, and two-tone violet.


How to Clean Contact Lens?

Rinse your hand thoroughly with soap and water and dry them with a clean towel before cleaning the contact lens. Next, rinse the contact lens with a lens cleaning solution with your fingers and palm gently to remove any debris build-up and an enzymatic cleaning solution to rinse off the protein build-up. Before transferring the lens into the lens case, make sure to empty the old solution and refill it with a new solution. Disinfect the case with a multipurpose lens solution before storing the lens.


How to Remove Stuck Contact Lens?

Look for the location of the lens in your eye in the mirror. Rinse your hand thoroughly and consider wetting the contact lens and eye with sterile saline or multipurpose contact lens solution. Next, close the eye and gently massage on the closed upper lid to move the lens. If the lens is stuck in the white part of the eye away from the center, do appropriate eye movements and blink to bring the lens towards the center. Repeat these steps until the lens rehydrates and moves, after which it can be taken out as usual.


What Is a Toric Contact Lens?

Toric contact lenses are for correcting astigmatism. In astigmatism, the light rays entering the eye may diverge into multiple foci due to abnormally shaped cornea. Toric lenses are donut-shaped lenses with differing focusing and refractive powers on the vertical and horizontal orientations. Different parts of this lens have different refractive strengths.
Dr. Anand Yattinamani
Dr. Anand Yattinamani

Ophthalmology (Eye Care)


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