Everything You Need to Know About Contact Lenses (By An Eye Specialist)

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The Evolution of Vision Correction

Throughout history, people have experimented with various methods to improve their vision such as using polished gems or glass. The idea of using contact lenses for vision correction took a significant leap forward in the 14th century with the invention of spectacles.

These spectacles were not just functional but were a symbol of wealth and status.

Leonardo da Vinci then came up with the idea of contact lenses in the 16th century but only became a reality in the late 19th and early 20th centuries with advancements in materials. Contact lenses were initially made from glass and later from a plastic called PMMA.

A new material called Silicone Hydrogel introduced in the late 20th century has become the standard for modern contact lenses as it makes contact lens use more comfortable and healthier for users.

Types of Contact Lenses

  • Soft contact lenses, primarily composed of silicone hydrogel, offer excellent oxygen permeability. They are available in various modalities, including daily disposables, bi-weekly, and monthly disposables. Daily disposables are worn once and discarded for hygiene and convenience. Bi-weekly and monthly lenses are replaced accordingly and require regular cleaning and maintenance.
  • Rigid Gas Permeable (RGP) Contact Lenses are made of hard plastic with good oxygen permeability. They offer excellent vision correction, especially for specific issues soft lenses may not address. However, they require a longer adaptation period and more maintenance. The choice between these two types depends on individual preferences, lifestyles, and vision needs.

Contact lenses also come in various designs including toric correction for people who require their astigmatism corrected and multifocal designs for people with presbyopia.

Pros of Contact Lenses

Contact lenses offer several advantages.

They provide enhanced vision quality compared to glasses, offering a wider field of view and reducing distortions, particularly in peripheral vision for a higher prescription.

Their compatibility with an active lifestyle makes them ideal for sports and physical activities, providing freedom of movement without the constraints of glasses.

Furthermore, contact lenses come in various colors and designs for aesthetic purposes. Beyond aesthetics, contact lenses can boost confidence by providing vision correction without visible eyewear, improving self-image and overall quality of life.

Cons of Contact Lenses

While contact lenses offer numerous benefits, they also come with several considerations.

One of the main considerations is the need for consistent maintenance and hygiene practices. Users must be compliant with daily care routines and hygiene practices to prevent infections, which can arise from poor lens care.

Additionally, users tend to wear their contact lenses for a prolonged period which can give rise to discomfort and dryness.

The risk of eye infections and complications can vary from inflammation of the inner surface of the eyelid to more severe conditions that require constant medical attention and in rare cases corneal transplant.

Regular check-ups with an eye care professional are essential to monitor eye health and promptly address any potential problems.

Risks Associated with Contact Lenses

Contact lenses can pose risks of infection and microbial contamination if not handled properly. Microbes such as bacteria and fungi can accumulate on the lenses and cause infections if they come into contact with the eyes.

To minimize these risks, it’s crucial to maintain proper hygiene practices, including:

  • Washing hands thoroughly before handling lenses
  • Regular cleaning and disinfection of lenses
  • Replacing them as recommended.

Avoid sleeping in lenses and limiting water exposure while wearing lenses can also help reduce the risk of microbial contamination.

Allergic reactions can be a concern for contact lens wearers, with common allergens including components of lens solutions and debris that can accumulate on the lenses. Managing allergies while using contact lenses may involve switching to preservative-free solutions or using daily disposable lenses to reduce the risk of irritation.

Additionally, practicing good hygiene, such as washing hands before handling lenses and cleaning lenses regularly, can help minimize allergen exposure.

If allergies persist or worsen, consulting an eye care professional is recommended to explore alternative solutions.

Costs of Contact Lenses

Contact lenses can come with various costs that wearers should consider.

Initial costs include the price of the lenses themselves, which can vary depending on the type and brand of lenses. There may also be additional costs for an eye exam and fitting.

Ongoing costs include the cost of cleaning and disinfecting solutions, as well as replacements if the lenses are not daily disposables. These costs can add up over time and should be factored into the decision to wear contact lenses.

Alternatives to Contact Lenses

There are several alternatives to contact lenses, including eyeglasses and refractive surgery such as PRK, LASIK, ReLEx Smile, and ICL.

Eyeglasses offer advantages such as convenience, as they require minimal maintenance compared to contact lenses. They also provide protection against environmental factors such as dust and allergens.

Laser refractive surgery is a surgical procedure that reshapes the cornea to correct vision. Another option is implantable contact lenses (ICLs), which are surgically implanted lenses that can correct vision without the need to reshape the cornea.

However, not everyone is eligible for refractive surgery as factors such as age, eye health, and prescription stability need to be considered.

Each of these alternatives has its own benefits and considerations and it is important to discuss all options with an eye care professional to determine the most suitable choice.


  1. Can anyone wear contact lenses?
    1. Yes! Most people can wear contact lenses. However, factors such as eye health, the presence of certain eye conditions and lifestyle preferences can influence whether contact lenses are suitable for an individual.
  2. How long can I wear contact lenses in a day?
    1. Recommended wearing time will be about 6 to 8 hours a day, a maximum of 5 days a week.
  3. Are there age restrictions for using contact lenses?
    1. There are no age restrictions for wearing contact lenses. People of all ages, including children and older adults can wear them. However, fitting a child with lenses should be done under professional guidance with consideration of the child’s maturity level and ability to handle contact lenses responsibly.
  4. Can I sleep with my contact lenses on?
    1. It is not recommended to sleep with your contact lenses as they increase the risk of eye infections and other complications.
  5. How often should I replace my contact lenses?
    1. The frequency of replacement depends on the type of contact lenses you are wearing. Daily disposable contact lenses are to be discarded after each use. For bi-weekly or monthly contact lenses, they should be replaced accordingly as the term suggests.
  6. Are colored contact lenses safe for my eyes?
    1. Colored contact lenses are safe for your eyes if you get them from a reliable source using a valid prescription and with an appropriate duration of use.
  7. Can I swim or shower with contact lenses?
    1. It is not recommended to swim or shower while wearing contact lenses. Exposing your contact lenses to water can increase the risk of microbial infection.
  8. What should I do if I experience discomfort with my contact lenses?
    1. Remove your contact lenses immediately and seek medical attention.
  9. How do I clean and care for my contact lenses?
    1. Handle the contact lenses with clean hands.
    2. For biweeklies and monthlies, rub the lenses on the palm of your hand for 20 seconds with a few drops of contact lens solution to remove any debris.
    3. Rinse the lenses thoroughly with the contact lens solution and store them with fresh contact lens solution before the next use.
    4. Replace your contact lenses promptly based on their replacement schedule.
    5. Replace your contact lens case every 3 months, or immediately if it is damaged.
  10. Is LASIK a permanent solution for vision correction?
    1. LASIK can provide long-lasting vision correction by reshaping the cornea. However, it may not be permanent for everyone. Factors like age and eye health can impact results. Consulting with an eye care professional is key to understanding if LASIK is suitable for you.

Making an Informed Decision

Consulting an eye doctor is the first step in making an informed decision about vision correction.

They will evaluate your vision and eye health, and discuss your lifestyle and visual goals. Information about the risks, benefits, and potential costs associated with options suited for you will be shared, helping you make a decision tailored to your individual needs.


In conclusion, the journey of vision correction has evolved from ancient practices to modern innovations like contact lenses and refractive surgery.

Individuals now have a range of options to correct their vision, each with its advantages and considerations.

Making informed decisions about vision correction involves understanding these options, consulting an eye care professional, and considering individual lifestyles and preferences. Regular eye checkups and professional guidance are crucial for maintaining eye health and ensuring the best outcomes.

By staying informed and proactive, individuals can make choices that support their eye health and enhance their quality of life.