The first corneal contact lens was invented back in 1949. Today more than 150 million people around the world enjoy clearer vision thanks to these tiny plastic miracle workers.
For patients suffering from a refractive error (nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism, or presbyopia), contact lenses can provide a desirable alternative to eyeglasses, but they’re not for everyone. Like any medical decision, you should consider the contact lenses pros and cons before deciding how to manage your vision care.
Contact Lenses: Pros
Contact lenses have come a long way since their beginnings. For most patients, soft, comfortable lenses made of pliable plastic have replaced the traditional, rigid gas-permeable lenses of yesteryear. With options ranging from daily wear lenses that last months and are taken out and cleaned each night to disposable single-use lenses that never require cleaning or other maintenance, there are contacts to fit nearly any lifestyle.
- Contacts offer more natural vision correction than eyeglasses. Since the lens sits directly on your eye and moves along with it, the correction is constant across your eye’s full range of motion, without the distortion at the periphery that some eyeglass wearers experience.
- Contacts don’t fog up when it’s cold, rainy, or humid – and in Middle Georgia, we experience any of those three conditions pretty much year-round.
- Contacts don’t get in the way or fall off your face when you’re playing sports, working in the yard, or engaging in other physical activities.
- Contacts don’t put pressure on your nose, ears, and temples like eyeglasses do.
- Contacts offer effective vision correction for people who don’t like the way they look in glasses.
Contact Lenses: Cons
While contact lenses are an effective means for correcting a refractive error in your vision, they’re not for everyone. While there are significant advantages to choosing contacts, there are some potential disadvantages to be aware of:
- Contact lenses require significantly more maintenance than glasses. Special cleaning solutions and eyedrops are required to keep the lenses clean and sterile, and failure to properly maintain your lenses can lead to serious eye infections and other complications.
- For patients with astigmatism, contact lenses are more complex and may cause blurry vision if they shift when you’re wearing them.
- Contact lenses aren’t as easy to remove and replace as eyeglasses, so they’re impractical for patients who only need correction in certain conditions (ie, you only need glasses when you’re driving).
- Contacts require you to touch the surface of your eye, which is a non-starter for many patients.
- If you work in certain fields or have certain hobbies like woodworking or machining that expose you to high concentrations of dust or other particulates, contacts should be avoided. (Contrary to the popular urban legend, however, contacts are safe for welders!)
Contact Lens Alternatives
If the above drawbacks have you rethinking contact lenses as a choice, don’t worry! There are plenty of alternatives to contacts that can work for you:
- Eyeglasses are an easy, low-maintenance option. Today’s glasses come in a dizzying array of styles and colors and offer hundreds of lens options to fit any type of vision and match any style.
- Corrective surgery is an option for many refractive errors. While more expensive up front than glasses or contacts, the long-term savings on frames and lenses may make it worthwhile to explore surgical options.
When it’s time to select corrective lenses, visit Eyesight Associates.