Eye Health

Contact Lenses, an Alternative to Wearing Glasses

Written by Dr. Anand and medically reviewed by iCliniq medical review team.

 
Image: Contact Lenses, an Alternative to Wearing Glasses

Contact lenses are medical devices used to correct refractive errors. They are also frequently used to change the appearance of eyes.

Types of Contact Lenses:

There are mainly two 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.

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.
  • Restrict the wearing of contact lenses to a maximum of 8 to 10 hours a day.
  • Avoid wearing the lenses during sleep.
  • Avoid rubbing your eyes while wearing contact lenses.
  • If you notice any redness, burning sensation or discharge from the eyes, immediately stop wearing the lenses and consult an ophthalmologist.

Advantages of Contact Lenses:

Contact lenses have some distinct advantages over spectacles:

  • Contact lenses are cosmetically more acceptable specially in high refractive errors where a person needs 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 the eyes).
  • It can correct the vision in irregular astigmatism (example: keratoconus).
  • It gives better vision in unilateral or bilateral aphakia (absence of lens of the eye).
  • Contact lenses are preferred in athletes and sports persons who have very active outdoor living.
  • Appearance of colour of eyes can be changed to suit your needs. This can also be used to mask the scars in people having corneal scars.

Uses of Contact Lenses in Other Ocular Conditions:

Contact lenses are used in a number of 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 (medical condition involving inward folding of the eyelid - mostly the lower eyelid).

Disadvantages of Contact Lenses:

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

  • Contact lenses need a good maintainance. 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 conjuctival congestion, itching, watering, immune response keratitis and conjunctivitis.
  • Chances of developing conjunctivitis and corneal ulcer (acanthameoba) become higher.
  • It may cause corneal opacities by constant micro trauma.
  • 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).
Last reviewed at: 07.Sep.2018

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