Making the decision to move from glasses to contact lenses is a big one, there are many questions new contact lens wearers ask, from, “Will it hurt?” to “Which contact lenses are best for me?”
Before long you’ll be a pro and wonder what all the fuss was about, but before you get there let me answer a few of the most frequently asked questions.
1. What age can I start wearing contact lenses?
By the age of 11 most eyes are developed enough to wear contact lenses, however it’s not quite a simple as that as contact lenses do need some looking after, so a child’s sense of responsibility, willingness to handle contact lenses and their hygiene level should be taken into account. An optician will help you decide which lenses are best for you and if you are ready.
Parental consent is required for children under the age of 16.
Of course, contact lenses can be fitted to babies but this is generally only carried out in exceptional circumstance i.e if the baby has congenital defects, such as cataracts or other eye disorders.
Contact Lens Fitting
2. Do I need a special prescription for contact lenses?
The simple answer is yes, here’s why-
Your glasses prescription lacks vital information that is required for a contact lens prescription.
Just as with your glasses – the optician took fitting measurements such as pupil distance (PD) bridge width, and the length of arm needed. The same goes for contact lenses, because the lenses sit directly on your eye, the optician needs accurate measurements of the diameter (Dia) and the base curve of your eye (BC). You could also find the power of your lenses differ to those of your glasses.
This is also the time the optician makes the decision as to what type of lenses are best for you.
3. Will contact lenses hurt?
The insertion, removal and wearing of contact lenses does not hurt.
Some people are a little squeamish about inserting and removing contact lenses because it involves putting your finger in your eye, but in reality you don’t touch your eye at all, you just place the contact lens gently on the surface of your eye.
However, if the contact lenses are unclean, you have slept too long in your lenses or some foreign body gets in your eye then they can sting, but this is a good thing, it reminds you to remove your lenses, clean them and re-insert them. If the irritability continues then it’s best to have a word with your optician.
Contact Lens Insertion
4. Are contact lenses hard to look after?
Some are definitely more difficult than others.
With the introduction of daily disposable contact lenses in 1995, looking after them is simple, pop them in, pop them out , throw them in the bin.
There is a cost involved with daily disposable lenses and some are saying a greater environmental impact, so many people opt for 2 weekly or even monthly disposable lenses, but even these lenses, with multi purpose solution, only take a few minutes each day to maintain great hygiene.
5. How long will it take to get use to my contact lenses?
Many people are surprised at just how quick they get use to wearing contact lenses.
Once your optician has fitted your lenses, you’ll be given a wearing schedule advising you to gradually increase your wear time over a few days, your optician will probably make another appointment in 2 weeks to check everything is OK.
Initially it may seem odd having the lens in your eye and you may be constantly aware of their presence, although not painful, you are aware that they are there, but within a few days with a well fitting lens you can forget you are wearing them.
Daily Disposable Lenses
6. Will my contact lenses fall out?
A well fitted contact lens should not just fall out.
Your optician will have taken measurements of your eyes during your contact lens fitting so that your lenses fit perfectly, therefore it’s very unlikely they will just fall out.
Having said that it is true contact lenses can fall out, but not normally on their own, they need some sort of irritant or action to do so, such as a foreign body in the eye or excessive rubbing.
7. Can I wear my contact lenses for sport?
When your optician fits your contact lenses they will ask about your lifestyle as this may affect which type of lens is best for you.
If you participate in a contact or water sport, rugby, martial arts, swimming etc the optician may recommend daily lenses as should these become irritated and fall out then it’s a simple case of popping in another lens. If you want to keep the cost down on lenses then you can still opt for monthly lenses but maybe just have daily disposable contact lenses for sports use.
8. What type of contact lenses are best for your me?
This is a big question.
The main choices are between Daily disposable lenses and monthly lenses, there is a two weekly lens and even a continuous wear lens (once in your eye you leave it there for up to 30 days) all are great options, often it comes down to cost or lifestyle:
Daily wear contact lenses are a great option if you are new to contact lenses due to their simplicity of use.
Unlike reusable lenses, there is no cleaning and storing routine, you simply pop in a new lens each morning and throw out the lens each evening, because of this, most optical experts agree that daily contact lenses are the healthiest choice for contact lens wearers.
The materials used to manufacture daily contacts are also designed to make the lenses extremely thin and comfortable to wear.
Monthly contact lenses come in a wide variety of fitting options, and are suitable for almost every eye care need, they are often the lens of choice for people with high power prescriptions.
Monthly disposable lenses are designed to be worn during the day and removed at night for cleaning and storage.
After 30 days, they should be thrown away and a new pair used.
*Two weekly Lenses
Two weekly disposable contact lenses are very similar to the monthly disposable lenses, they require removing, cleaning and storing every evening, however as the name suggests they are only designed to last 2 weeks i.e 14 wears, before they need to be disposed of and a new pair used.
This wearing method prevents build-up of dirt, debris and minerals, helping to keep your eyes healthy.
*Continuous Wear Lenses
Continuous wear 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 at the end of the month (approx 30 days later), there is 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.
I’ve covered the basics here and will go into more depth in a later post.
First time contact lenses wearers will find this article really helpful What Are The Best Contacts Lenses For First Time Users?
Variety of Contact Lenses
9. Can I sleep in my contact lenses?
Advice from the Association of Optometrists (AOP) is “You should never sleep in them unless they are speciﬁcally designed for overnight wear”.
This can seem a bit severe when you have daily disposables, no solutions and you just want a short nap.
All contact lenses pose an increased risk of infection and irritability if worn overnight or whilst napping, but for many contact lens wearers a short nap appears to pose no significant threat, but be aware of your eye health after waking, if your eyes feel dry or irritable try comfort drops or remove the lenses and give your eyes a break.
If you regularly sleep in your lenses you could speak to your optician about extended wear lenses, and make sure you have your regular contact lens check ups.
Image by Matheus Ferrero
10. How much do contact lenses cost?
The cost of contact lenses differs depending on the type of contacts you wear, but big savings can be made by purchasing your lenses online and even more so if you by own brand lenses as opposed to big brand names.
Crystal 1 Day work out at just £186 for a years supply whereas 1 Day Acuvue Trueye cost around £575
Monthly lenses can appear cheaper Crystal Monthly only cost £30 for 12 pairs, but the cost of a premium lens such as Air Optix Aqua can be as much as £124.
However, it’s not quite that simple as you need to add on the cost of solutions, this could add approximately £110 based on Optifree Replenish Twin Pack.
Surprisingly continuous wear lenses can cost as little as £110 based on 12 pairs of Biofinity
A basic pair of prescription glasses can cost as little as £25 online but from £150 upwards if you go for designer frames.
It’s worth baring in mind that the price of your contact lenses are spread out over 6-12 smaller payments throughout the year, whereas with glasses it’s one large payment up front.
Contact Lenses or Glasses?
Image by Matheus Ferrero
Oh, and don’t worry about those scare stories, you can’t lose a contact lens behind your eye.