Special Uses of Contact Lenses Tips

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UV Light Blocking Contacts

Ask your eye care professional about contact lenses to block UV light, particularly if you are at risk for cataracts or spend large amounts of time outdoors.


Lenses for Camping, Long Trips or Other Excursions

If you plan to go camping, take a long trip or have an adventure planned ask your doctor about daily disposable lenses. Typically sold in packs of 30 lenses, these contacts require no cleaning and are thrown out after each use. They are wonderful for a trip or excursion where you may not have the ability to maintain your regular contact lens hygiene.


Do You Sleep in Your Lenses Once in a While?

If you want to occasionally sleep in your lenses ask your doctor about a “flexible wear” schedule. You may be prescribed extended wear contacts which are approved for overnight wear, but don’t have to be kept in every night. You may use these lenses as regular disposable contacts and sleep in them if needed. This way if you want to sleep in your lenses occasionally you can do so safely.

Can I sleep while wearing contact lenses?

Is Sleeping While Wearing Contact Lenses Safe?

The introduction of silicone hydrogel contact lenses, which allow for increased levels of oxygen to reach the cornea, has resulted in a resurgence of extended wear contact lenses that can be worn overnight. Many believe sleeping while wearing these types of contacts is safe but there is an increased risk of infection in those who sleep while wearing contact lenses. This even applies to contact lenses approved for extended wear. While there are some contact lenses which are approved for use for 30 days, your eye care provider may recommend a shorter wearing schedule. Following these recommendations can help to maintain overall eye health.

Can I wear contact lenses while swimming?

Swimming with Contact Lenses

Swimming while wearing contact lenses is not recommended. Many individuals who dip into a pool, river, lake or ocean to cool off on a hot day do not remove their contact lenses prior to doing so. However, removing contact lenses before swimming is recommended for a couple of reasons:

  • The chlorine used in a pool can be damaging to the surface of contact lenses.
  • Contact lenses can shift on the eye or be dislodged completely as a result of submersion or splashing.

Can I wear contact lenses if I work with chemicals?

Wearing Contact Lenses While Working with Chemicals

Currently, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) does not preclude those who wear contact lenses from working with chemicals, which may prevent an eye irritant or injury hazard. In 1978, NIOSH did propose a policy where it was recommended that contact lenses not be worn while working with chemicals. However, recent studies have caused them to retract the recommendation. Today, NIOSH allows the use of contact lenses when working with chemicals as long as proper eye protection such as goggles or respirators are also used.

Can I wear contact lenses if I work in a dusty environment?

Contact Lenses and Dust

Those who work in a dusty environment should avoid wearing contact lenses in the workplace. Although there are no laws against this, it is not recommended because the dust can adhere to the lenses and damage the health of the eye. Both the inner eyelids and the cornea can be damaged by debris which adheres to the contact lenses. These workers may wear contact lenses outside the work environment but wearing them on the job can result in discomfort and possibly even more severe problems.

Can I wear contact lenses if I require bifocals?

Bifocal Contact Lenses

Contact lenses are available for those who require different prescriptions for correcting distance vision as well as near vision. This condition is called presbyopia. The lenses often have one prescription on half of the lens and the other prescription on the other half of the lens. The prescriptions may switch abruptly or have a transitional section where the two prescriptions are blended. In the case of bifocal contact lenses the eye must learn to determine which prescription is required for viewing an object that is either near or far.

What should I do if I fall asleep while wearing contact lenses?

Removing Contact Lenses After Sleeping

Occasionally falling asleep while wearing contact lenses may not be harmful. However, care should be taken before removing the contact lenses because the lenses may become overly dry while the wearer is sleeping. In this case the use of rewetting drops may be necessary prior to attempting to remove the contact lenses. Without the use of rewetting drops the contact lens may be difficult to remove and may tear during removal.

How important is it to take care of contact lenses?

Poor Hygiene Can Result in Poor Eye Health

Germs travel fast, and good hygiene is very important to the condition of contact lenses as well as the overall health of the eye. It is important to wash hands thoroughly before handling contact lenses and to keep all cleaning instruments sterile. This is important because contaminants can be harmful to the lens and result in debris on the lens, which could damage the eye.

I am a triathlete; can I wear contact lenses while swimming?

Contact Lenses and Triathlons

A triathlon is a sport that involves swimming, biking and running in succession. Generally, contact lenses are not recommended for swimming, and that can create difficulty for many triathletes who require vision correction. Prescription goggles are available but switching to glasses for the bike and run portion of the race can be cumbersome. If you're participating in a triathlon and need your contact lenses, talk with your eye care professional beforehand for a list of precautionary measures. He/she will tell you how to care for your lenses immediately after the race, and offer some suggestions on caring for sports lenses. Don't forget to pack an extra pair of lenses in your gear bag before the triathlon. In the event you lose a lens in the water, you'll want to replace it immediately so you can finish the race.

What types of contact lenses are available?

Types of Contact Lenses Available

There are a wide variety of contact lenses available. The different types of contact lenses include different materials such as soft, rigid gas permeable and hard. Other variations for prescription contact lenses include the replacement schedule and the wear schedule. There are also contact lenses for specific vision problems. Toric lenses are used for those with astigmatism while bifocal contact lenses are used for those with presbyopia. There are even prescription and non-prescription contact lenses which can be used to change the color, shape or appearance of the eye. Talk to your eye care provider about the type of lenses that are right for you.

Are there contact lenses which allow more oxygen to reach the eye?

Silicone Hydrogel Contact Lenses

Contact lenses constructed of silicone hydrogel are considered to be much more gas permeable than those constructed of plastics. This is important because oxygen is essential for corneal health. Traditional plastic contact lenses relied on the water present in the plastic to transmit oxygen to the cornea. However, silicone is oxygen permeable meaning the cornea receives oxygen through the water as well as the silicone. As a result, these contact lenses can be worn for extended periods of time because the cornea receives so much oxygen.

Can an eye with astigmatism be reshaped?

Reshaping the Eye through Orthokeratology

The shape of the eye can be changed temporarily through the use of hard contact lenses. This process is known as orthokeratology and involves the use of progressively flatter lenses to reshape the cornea. Once the desired shape is achieved the wearer switches to a maintenance contact lens which keeps the cornea in the desired shape. The effects of orthokeratology are only temporary and if the user does not wear the contacts for a few days the cornea may return to the original shape.

Can I purchase unusual contact lenses?

Purchasing Novelty Contact Lenses

Many retailers offer a variety of theatrical contact lenses for purchase. These lenses may feature unusual colors or patterns. Novelty contact lenses can be a lot of fun but it is important to remember they can damage the eye if not used properly. The best way to ensure novelty contact lenses do not damage the eye is to have an eye care provider write a prescription for these lenses to ensure they fit properly. Return to your eye care provider after receivin your lenses to make sure the lenses fit properly. Theatrical contact lenses may not be used for vision correction but they still require a prescription to ensure they are sized correctly.

How do I clean my contact lenses?

Cleaning Recommendations for Contact Lenses

The cleaning methods for contact lenses vary from one type of contact lens to another and may also vary based on the needs of the patient. It is important to follow the cleaning recommendations provided by an eye care provider. These recommendations will likely include a specific brand of cleaning solution which should be used. The eye care provider makes these recommendations based on a number of factors including the overall health of the eye, lifestyle of the patient and type of contact lens. Failure to follow the doctor's recommendations may result in discomfort, pain or problems.

Can I wear my contact lenses as long as I want?

Duration Recommendations for Contact Lenses

Contact lens wearers should follow their eye care provider's instructions for the recommended duration they can wear contact lenses. This is important because wearing contact lenses for longer than recommended can result in damage to the eye. Following these recommendations will help the patient to enjoy the highest level of comfort. Exceeding this recommendation can result in eye strain and fatigue.

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