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Most people experience eyesight problems at some point in their life. Some problems are minor and go away without requiring treatment. Some result in serious vision complications like blindness. One of the ways of correcting vision issues is by using contact lenses. Contacts are thin discs made of either glass or plastic. They sit directly on the eye surface. Contacts correct various vision problems like short-sightedness, long-sightedness, and astigmatism. They also correct presbyopia, a condition where the lens doesn’t focus as it should. Unlike glasses, contact lenses though convenient in many ways, need special care. They also provide temporary relief and need changing regularly. Contacts also shift easily and can lead to eye dryness plus a host of other complications. Wearing contacts also leaves you at a greater risk of infection. Common symptoms of eye infection include redness, blurry vision, and irritation. If not treated, these infections can lead to permanent vision loss.
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Types of Contact Lenses
Contact lenses are of different types. The most common are hard and soft lenses.
- Soft contact lenses
Soft contact lenses come in either daily or extended wear forms. Both are made from thin and flexible materials. You need to remove daily-wear soft lenses every day. They also need cleaning and proper storage to prevent damage to the eye and infections. Extended wear lenses can stay on the eye overnight. Due to that, the risk of infection increases. As such, wear such lenses for not more than the period your doctor advises.
- Hard contact lenses
These kinds of contact lenses help correct specific eye conditions. Most are bifocals and take longer getting used to than soft contact lenses. Due to the rigidity of hard lenses, they tend to slide out of place more. This is especially when you engage in vigorous physical activities. As such, they can leave you more prone to infections and eye damage than softer lenses.
- Daily-wear soft lenses
When it comes to comfort, daily-wear soft lenses are second to none. They are easy to adjust to and can be worn even when engaging in vigorous activities and sports. Such lenses come in a variety of colors. They, however, come with a few disadvantages. For one, clear vision is not a guarantee, especially, if you have severe conditions like astigmatism. They also need special cleaning as well as disinfection. On top of that, they tear easily and therefore require replacing after some time. Depending on the type of lenses, some need replacement every day or after a few months.
- Extended-wear soft lenses
These lenses offer the same advantages as daily-wear soft lenses but are worn for longer periods. This means that your risk of infection also increases. The only way to prevent that is by removing them at the end of the day and cleaning them well.
Problems Associated With Contact Lenses
Contact lenses are convenient and easy to use. Unlike glasses, they don’t get fogged and you never have to worry about breaking them. They are also not in your way when engaging in vigorous activities like sports. Contact lenses however pose their fair share of problems that include;
- Eye infections – Eye infections associated with wearing contacts occur due to germs and bacteria. The infection attacks the cornea leading to swelling. If an infection is not treated, it can lead to serious complications. These include deep scarring and in severe cases, vision loss. Antibiotic eye drops help clear most infections. Some infections caused by amoeba and fungus are much harder to treat. You may need to go through months of treatment. In severe cases, you may even need eye surgery.
- Conjunctivitis – Also referred to as pink eye, conjunctivitis refers to the swelling of the eyelid, sometimes accompanied by redness. Pink eye occurs as a result of an allergic reaction. When you wear contact lenses, the body assumes that the foreign object is an infection and works hard to fight it. The result is an allergic reaction that may cause mild or severe symptoms. If you have mild symptoms, you don’t need any treatment. If they are severe though, you will need anti-inflammatories and steroids. You may also need to stop wearing contact lenses for a while or switch to those made of different materials.
- Hypoxia – Oxygen flow to the cornea is vital. Contact lenses sit directly on top of the cornea. This ends up limiting the amount of oxygen that comes through. The resulting condition is hypoxia. Hypoxia symptoms include a swollen cornea and serious eye problems like cloudy vision. Hypoxia occurs mostly in people who don’t remove contacts when sleeping. It’s also a common problem for those who wear extended-wear contacts. In case of a hypoxia diagnosis, the doctor may ask you to switch to contacts that don’t limit oxygen flow to your eyes. Steroids are also used to manage the swelling and ensure that the problem doesn’t worsen.
- Cornea scratching – Contacts, unlike glasses, require you to touch your eye when putting and removing them. When doing that, you might end up scratching your cornea with your nails. Sometimes the contact lenses can do the scratching themselves. Other times dirt might build up in the contacts thus scratching the cornea when you wear them. Most of the time, a scratched cornea will heal in a day or two. If not treated, it could end up getting infected.
- Dry eyes – Blinking helps keep the eyes moist, removes dirt, and lowers your risk of eye infection. Dry eyes are a condition that develops when tears made are not enough to keep the eyes moist. Prolonged contact lenses-use can leave your eyes dry. Artificial tears or special eye drops will help.
How to Live With Contact Lenses
If you have vision problems but don’t want to wear glasses, you may have to wear contact lenses all your life. Infections, allergic reactions, pink eye, hypoxia are some issues you may have to deal with. Here are the best ways to live with contact lenses;
- Make sure that you get the right contact lenses. Contact lenses should fit the size and shape of your eye.
- Contact lenses need cleaning since you may end up with a nasty eye infection.
- When sleeping or swimming, remove your contacts to avoid infections and hypoxia.
- If you get an eye infection, see a specialist immediately. If left untreated, infections can lead to permanent eye damage.
- Does it hurt when wearing contact lenses? When you begin wearing them, it will feel a little uncomfortable at first. It shouldn’t hurt however if you are wearing them well.
- What should I do if I forget to remove my contact lenses for too long? Mistakes happen and sometimes, you may realize that you forgot to take off your contacts. When you realize this, take them off immediately and make sure you don’t wear them again for the entire day.
Healthier Me Today is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment, always consult with your healthcare professional. Stay healthy!