Making Contact With Better Vision
By Krista Elliott
When you have poor vision, there are a few options to correct it. Glasses are stylish, comfortable, and are extremely useful if you need an unassuming journalist alter-ego. Laser surgery can restore your vision and free you from wearing corrective items. Another option is to just walk into things and go through life in a slightly pleasant blur (mind you, there are other ways to achieve that end). Lastly, you have contact lenses. These thin discs fit over the corneas, adjusting the light before it enters the eye, so that it focuses on exactly the right spot, providing crisp and clear vision.
Who Shouldn't Wear Contact Lenses
- People who can't bear the thought of touching their eyeballs, someone else touching their eyeballs, or eyeballs altogether (some people get really freaked out by eyeballs).
- People who work in a dusty or gritty environment. They can wear contacts at home, but would likely have difficulties with them at work.
- People with severe dry eye syndrome will likely find contact lenses too uncomfortable.
- Children are not good candidates for contact lenses as their eyes are still growing and sensitive. Adolescence is the earliest time in which one could be considered for contacts.
There are two major types of contact lenses: Soft lenses and Rigid Gas Permeable (RGP) lenses. The RGP lenses have been around for decades now, and while they provide crisp and clear vision, especially for people with astigmatism, they're not the most comfortable and can pop out easily. Soft lenses are thin and flexible plastic, and can feel completely undetectable when worn. They're less durable, though, and can dry out if you're in an arid environment.
Besides material, you have contacts that have to be taken out every night (daily wear) versus ones that can be worn overnight for up to seven days (extended wear). The American Academy of Opthamology, however, frowns on any overnight use of contact lenses, claiming that it greatly increases the risk of ulcerative keratisis. And ulcerative keratisis is NOT something to fool around with (seriously, it can melt your corneas).
If you take proper care of your contact lenses, though, they can safely provide great vision correction and freedom from glasses. What is the proper care, though?
- Always, always, always wash your hands thoroughly before removing, inserting, or adjusting your contact lenses.
- Never let anybody else borrow your contact lenses (yes, people have done that and yes, it's gross).
- Only use commercial contact lens solution for cleaning, rinsing, and disinfecting your lenses. Do not use tap water, bottled water, or the plentiful tears of your vanquished enemies.
- Remember to keep your contact lens case clean.
- Remove your contact lenses every night (remember, ulcerative keratisis is nasty) and put them in solution to disinfect.
- Replace your lenses as directed. Some are to be replaced daily, some weekly, and some monthly or more.
- If your lens is torn or damaged, discard it and insert a new one.
By following your optometrist's advice and using good hygeine, you can enjoy the freedom that contact lenses bring for years to come!