What are some of my choices for contacts?
Although the standard “hard lens” introduced in the 1950’s are still around, newer materials developed have made these lenses virtually obsolete. Two types of contacts are fit today, Soft and Rigid gas permeable (RGP) Soft contact lenses, first introduced 30 years ago, are made of flexible, water-absorbent plastics – In fact, these contacts are anywhere from 38% water and up. Some soft lenses are designed to be thrown away daily, weekly, bi-weekly, monthly or quarterly, depending on your eye care professional’s instructions. Others can be used for up to 1 year. Many people enjoy the comfort of soft contact lenses. They’re easy to insert, and fit securely on the eye. RGP lenses are made of special, firmer plastics suited for the transmission of oxygen and other gasses necessary to maintain eye health. These lenses are very durable and typically last longer than soft lenses, sometimes more than 2 years. RGP lenses offer crisper vision than soft and are often preferred by people with high myopia, astigmatism or other hard-to-fit contact lens patient’s. While they may take a little longer to get used to, regular wearers find them comfortable and the visual acuity outstanding.
Can Contact Lenses be Prescribed to clear Distance and Near vision?
Many doctors prescribe contact lenses to clear user’s far vision. Patients over 40 may notice a progressive decrease in the ability to view near images, like medicine bottle labels or small print, through their distance contact lenses. This may appear suddenly and leave the patient wondering what is wrong with their lenses. The condition that causes this is called Presbyopia and affects everyone over 40 years of age. A contact lens fitting process called Monovision, where the doctor underprescribes the non-dominant eye, is the most common way of getting around the effects of Presbyopia in contact lens wearers. In the past few years, great advances have been made in contact lens technology allowing the user to “get their young eyes back” – these technologies include soft and RGP bifocal contact lenses and progressive contact lenses. People who have tried these technologies unsuccessfully in the past may now find them more accommodating, as science has greatly improved the functionality of the lens. The most effective “multifocal” contact lens is a RGP aspheric design. An eye doctor experienced in fitting these modalities should evaluate your eye to see if you are a candidate for a multifocal contact lens option. In almost all multifocal contact lenses, night vision can be slightly decreased. This can be remedied with a simple pair of night-driving glasses you put on over the contacts and leave on the visor of your car for such situations. Fine print may be very clear and readable, but for extended near work such as reading a book or an entire newspaper, a small near prescription over the contact may help to prevent fatigue.
What’s the difference between daily wear, and extended wear?
Daily wear contact lenses are designated to be removed each day for cleaning and taken out before closing your eyes for extended periods of time. Extended wear lenses can be worn continuously for up to 7 or 30 days, depending on the recommendations of the Food and Drug Administration. Extended wear lenses can also be removed each day for cleaning and slept in occasionally when special circumstances arise. Eye care professionals consider many variables in deciding between daily wear and extended wear lenses for each patient’s needs. The latest technology in extended wear are the Silicone Hydrogel Soft Lenses. These lenses are the safest lenses to date for extended wear. While the risks of extended wear still exist in Silicone Hydrogel, they have demonstrated lower levels of complications than previous technologies. Be sure you visit an experienced eye doctor to be fitted with Silicone Hydrogel. Your doctor should recommend a quarterly eye check up to ensure the lenses are compatible for your eyes health and well being.
Technology Advances in Eye care Examinations.
The autorefractor provides the doctor with a starting point on the eyeglass prescription and provides a detailed analysis on the shape of the front of the eye. Glaucoma may be tested by one of several methods, including the “Air-Puff” machine (known as a Non-contact Tonometer, or NCT), Applanation Tonometry, or a Tono-pen (a form of Applanation Tonometry). The NCT “Air puff” is somewhat annoying and inaccurate, so you may request your doctor test your eye pressure with standard Applanation Tonometry. This test requires an eye drop that will not blur your vision, but may have a slight sting. There is no shocking “puff” with Applanation Tonometry. It it absolutely necessary to have this test for anyone with a family history of eye disease, especially glaucoma. A sophisticated computer now allows doctors to provide a more thorough medical analysis of the visual system. The Frequency Doubling Perimeter (FDP) assists the doctor in early detection of many disorders of the vision system and visual field not evident through eye examination testing. It is especially important for people who have regular headaches, see spots in their vision, have a history of diabetes, high blood pressure or cholesterol or have a family history of eye disease, specifically glaucoma. Dilation of the eye is a method of enlarging the pupil so the doctor can use technologically sophisticated methods to view the back of the eye. This procedure is helpful in evaluating for glaucoma, macular degeneration, diabetes, retinal detachment and many other diseases.
How to prepare . . . . (OK)
Baby Boomers Battling Bi-Focals
If you are on the far side of 40, you are probably finding that reading the phone book or newspaper is suddenly a chore. Welcome to middle age, and a condition called Presbyopia. Presbyopia, a type of farsightedness inevitable with aging, is caused by the gradual changes in the lens within the eye. It becomes less able to change shape, preventing us from focusing on close objects. Most people become aware of deteriorating close vision in their mid-40’s. Many people turn to inexpensive reading glasses, but it’s important to have regular eye exams. Prescription reading glasses and bifocals allow a close-up correction giving the best possible vision for close, but many are bothered by the tell tale line in a bifocal. Bifocals also don’t assist those who spend a lot of time on the computer, as you have to tilt your head way back to get the benefit of the power for near that is below the line in the lens. You may opt for progressive eyeglass lenses which correct distance, intermediate and near, without lines. Many people who have tried progressive lenses comment that they were difficult to get used to, that is why it is imperative that your first pair of progressive be an “optically proper” lens, not a generic lens with poor optics. You can ask your doctor to recommend a specifically optically advanced progressive to ensure your first experience is a pleasant one. Contact lenses offer several options for the correction of Presbyopia, including Multi-focal contact lenses, Bifocal contact lenses and Mono-vision. Multi-focal and Bi-focal contact lenses generally are without lines, and there is very little adaptation, unlike multi-focal and bi-focal eyeglass lenses. They are exceptionally difficult to fit from the doctor’s standpoint, so be patient as you may visit your doctor several times during your fitting to achieve maximal vision. Most patient’s are extremely pleased with their multifocal contact lenses if fit properly, and leave the office seeing better at near immediately. These lenses are even good for people who have never worn contacts before, so be sure you find a qualified eye doctor to prescribe them.
Corneal Refractive Therapy (Orthokeratology)
An alternative to LASIK and other surgical methods of correcting vision, Corneal Refractive Therapy (Orthokeratology or Ortho-K) offers people a non-surgical method of achieving vision without contact lenses or glasses while awake. A special lens is fitted for the eye which the patient sleeps in, and upon awakening removes. Most people are able to go for at least one day without contacts or glasses after sleeping in the lens. Doctors should be careful not to offer this therapy as a solution to vision problems, it is only a temporary non-surgical alternative to glasses and contact lenses. Not every doctor fits Ortho-k, so be sure to ask. Ortho-K is gaining in popularity in the US and is already popular overseas.