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Contact lenses: What to know before you buy
Specialized contact lenses
Depending on your vision needs, you might consider specialized contact lenses, such as:
- Hybrid contact lenses. Hybrid contact lenses feature a hard (gas permeable) center surrounded by a soft outer ring. Hybrid contact lenses might be an option if you have an irregular corneal curvature (keratoconus) or you have trouble wearing traditional hard lenses.
- Bifocal or multifocal contact lenses. These lenses, which are available in both soft and hard varieties, can correct nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism in combination with age-related loss of close-up vision (presbyopia).
- Tinted contact lenses. Some contact lenses are tinted, either for cosmetic or therapeutic purposes — to enhance color perception or help compensate for color blindness, for example. Avoid costume or decorative contact lenses, though. These lenses can damage your eyes and cause potentially serious eye infections.
Getting the right fit
If you decide you want to try contact lenses, consult your ophthalmologist or other eye care specialist for a thorough eye exam and fitting.
Schedule follow-up exams as recommended by your eye care specialist. You might need a follow-up exam after one week, one month and six months, and then once a year.
Avoiding eye infections
Wearing contact lenses of any type increases the risk of corneal infection, simply because contact lenses reduce the amount of oxygen that reaches the corneas. Eye infections aren't inevitable, however.
To prevent infections:
- Practice good hygiene. Wash, rinse and dry your hands thoroughly before handling your contacts.
- Remove your contacts before you go to sleep. This applies to extended wear contacts, too. Although extended wear contacts are designed to be worn overnight, continuous wear significantly increases the risk of eye infections.
- Minimize contact with water. Remove your contact lenses before you bathe, swim or use a hot tub.
- Don't moisten your lenses with saliva. Resist any temptation to put your lenses in your mouth to wet them.
- Take care with contact lens solutions. Use only commercially prepared, sterile products designed specifically for the type of contact lenses you wear — not water or homemade saline solution. Discard the solution in the contact lens case each time you disinfect the lenses, and don't "top off" old solution that's already in the case.
- 'Rub and rinse' your lenses. Gently rub your lenses while you're cleaning them, even if you choose no-rub solution.
- Keep an eye on the expiration date. Don't use contact solution that's past the expiration date.
- Replace contact lenses and cases as recommended. Follow manufacturer guidelines for replacing your contact lenses — and replace your contact lens case every three to six months.
Even with proper use and care, dry eyes can be an issue for contact lens wearers. If your eyes are itchy or red, remove your contact lenses and use lubricating eyedrops.
If your vision becomes blurry or you experience eye pain, sensitivity to light or other problems, remove your contact lenses and consult your eye care specialist for prompt treatment.Previous page
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- Medical devices: Types of contact lenses. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. http://www.fda.gov/MedicalDevices/ProductsandMedicalProcedures/HomeHealthandConsumer/ConsumerProducts/ContactLenses/ucm062319.htm. Accessed Oct. 1, 2012.
- Proper care of contact lenses. American Academy of Ophthalmology. http://www.geteyesmart.org/eyesmart/glasses-contacts-lasik/contact-lens-care.cfm. Accessed Oct. 3, 2012.
- Lipson MJ. Overview of contact lenses. http://www.uptodate.com/index. Accessed Oct. 1, 2012.
- LeBoyer RM, et al. Complications of contact lenses. http://www.uptodate.com/index. Accessed Oct. 1, 2012.
- Contact lens types. American Academy of Ophthalmology. http://www.geteyesmart.org/eyesmart/glasses-contacts-lasik/contact-lens-types.cfm. Accessed Oct. 3, 2012.