Contact Lens 101

Glasses begone! Contact lenses are like godsend to people with glasses, providing the freedom of movement, convenience and improved appearance.  Not only does contact lenses makes people look younger and more ‘modern’, it also gives wearers the chance to change their eye colour!

Despite its many virtues, contact lens users need to adhere to strict regulations with regards to cleaning and caring for their lenses. Abusing these regulations can lead to serious repercussions, such as eye swelling, infections and other problems.

Urban Health speaks to Raymond Song, Senior Professional Service Manager of Bausch and Lomb, for some must-know facts about contact lenses:

CHOOSING THE RIGHT PAIR

Contact lenses are not a ‘one size fits all’ product. Everyone has a different curvature of the eye ball, thus you need to find one that fits your eye curvature.  Although contact lenses are worn on the surface of the eyeball, there is still a high risk of complications such as eye infections.

There are 2 main types available in the market:

  1. Rigid Gas Permeable Contact  Lens (RGP)
  2. Soft Contact Lens (SCL)

Most contact lenses in the market now are disposable lenses which can be used daily, biweekly or monthly. Seek advice from a qualified eye care practitioner to decide what suits you and your lifestyle best.

DO THEY COME IN DIFFERENT SIZES?

Contact lenses are mass produced, thus the size (curvature, diameter) available are manufactured according to standard sizes. A majority of users will fit into these but there may be some with eye curvatures that are unable to fit into standard sizes.  These people will need contact lenses that are customised.

CAN EVERYONE WEAR COLOURED CONTACT LENS?

Coloured contact lenses are used just like clear contact lens. All users need to be assessed by a qualified eye care practitioner on suitability of a contact lens.

I AM SPOILT FOR CHOICE!

In the recent years, contact lenses can be purchased anywhere and not just at optical stores. However, consumers are recommended to purchase approved lenses from reputable companies. Be wary especially if you have never heard about the brand or type of lenses.

Do not purchase contact lenses from stores that do not have certified practitioners (e.g. from night markets or cosmetic stores). These lenses are of questionable quality and may even be dangerous for your eyes.

HOW LONG CAN I WEAR THEM?

Recommended time is 8 to 10 hours, depending on the individual. If you need to wear beyond 12 hours, always consult your eye care practitioner. Silicone hydrogel soft contact lens or high oxygen transmissibility RGP lenses are recommended for extended use of more than 12 hours.

ARE THERE SIDE EFFECTS OF CONTACT LENS USAGE?

Contact lens is generally safe if you follow proper contact lens hygiene, wearing schedule and regular assessments by eye care practitioners. Misuse of contact lenses might lead to eye inflammation or infections.

THEY’RE ON SALE! CAN I BUY IN BULK?

There is no harm stocking up disposable contact lenses, as long as the packaging is sealed and has a valid expiry date.

Once they are opened, the usage cycle begins. A monthly disposable contact lens DOES NOT mean that you can use it for 30 times! The day the pack is opened is Day 1 and you must dispose them on Day 30, even if you do not use them at all.

CLEANING AND STORING:

Step 1: Wash your hands with a fragrance-free soap and dry them with a lint-free cloth.

Step 2: Place the lens in the centre of your palm. Rub both sides of your lenses carefully for 20 seconds with a multi-purpose solution.

Step 3: Rinse each side of the contact lens with the multi-purpose solution to disinfect the lens.

Step 4: Place your lenses in a lens case and fill it with a multi-purpose solution. Soak for 4 hours and do not use tap water.

DO

  1. Wash your lens case every week and change your lens case every three months.
  2. If a foreign object enters your eye, you should first remove your contact lenses, then use multi-purpose solution to clean your lenses.
  3. Visit a certified optometrist or optician for an eye check up every 6 months.

DO NOT

  1. Scrimp on multi-purpose solution.
  2. Use tap water, mineral water or saline to soak or clean your lenses.
  3. Use expired multi-purpose solution.
  4. Wear your contact lenses to sleep unless recommended by your eye care practitioner.
  5. Swim with your lenses on unless you are wearing goggles.
  6. Store your contact lens case in the bathroom. Storing your lenses in your bathroom carries a high risk of airborne contamination.
  7. Touch the tip of your solution bottle with your fingers, eyes or lenses.
  8. Barbeque wearing your contact lens because they may melt from the heat.

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