Choosing to use glasses or contact lenses to have clearer vision is most often personal preference. Your lifestyle, the convenience and your budget are factors that can help you decide which option to choose.

Reasons to switch from glasses to contacts

Contacts give you a full field of focused vision
Contact lenses are available in the same prescription strength as glasses, but they often give wearers a full field of focused vision wherever they look. Contacts move with your eyes and help you track action with sharp, direct, and peripheral vision.

Reflections
Switching to contacts means you can say goodbye to the reflections you sometimes get with glasses.

Don’t steam up or get water spots

Freedom to lead an active lifestyle
If you lead an active lifestyle, contact lenses give you more freedom and flexibility to enjoy these activities. Lenses are lighter and less obtrusive than glasses, which means you can run and move with greater ease. And if you participate in contact sports, contact lenses won’t interfere with protective headgear.

Contact lenses won’t bounce up and down or slip off

Contacts can give you more confidence
Some people love the way they look in glasses, but others don’t so much.

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What are the different types of contact lenses?

Soft contact lenses
These are the most popular option.

They allow oxygen to pass to your eyes. There are daily replaceable and extended-wear versions available.

The benefit of soft contact lenses is that they are usually comfortable to wear almost immediately. They are also difficult to dislodge and great for active lifestyles.

They are more fragile and can tear if handled incorrectly.

Hard contact lenses
Also known as rigid gas permeable (RPG) lenses – are made from durable plastic and allow the transfer of oxygen to the eye.

Their rigidity means that often these type of lenses provide sharper improvements to vision than soft lenses.

They are fairly durable, which can make them a more cost-effective option, but can be more easily dislodged than soft contact lenses.

RPG lenses are smaller than soft lenses and are designed to move around on the eye. This means there is a greater chance of dust and debris getting caught beneath the lense.

Single vision lenses
These lenses have one prescription across the entire lens. Usually prescribed to improve your vision for a specific task, for instance long distance vision difficulty.

Sometimes people are prescribed a different single vision lens for each eye. One will be for distance vision and the other for near vision. This is known as a monovision solution.

Multifocal Lenses

Multifocal lenses help with close and distance vision problems.

Multifocal contact lenses have a few advantages that progressive glasses may not have:

  1. No blurry side vision: When focusing on close objects, progressive glasses can cause blurred side vision, whereas multifocal contacts provide clear side vision.
  2. Easy to use: To read while wearing progressive glasses, you may need to angle your head downwards. Multifocal contacts allow you to read comfortably without dropping your head and offer a bigger reading area.
  3. Reading above your head: With multifocal contact lenses, reading text that is above head level is significantly easier.
  4. No fingerprints: Contact lenses may be easier to care foron a daily basis than glasses, especially if you don’t like fingerprints on your lenses. Contact lenses only need to be cleaned twice a day, whereas glasses need to be cleaned several times per day.
  5. No distortions: Straight lines can sometimes appear curved when wearing multifocal glasses. Multifocal contact lenses rarely cause vision distortion.
  6. Computer work: If you use a computer, multifocal contact lenses may be more comfortable than progressive glasses since you can view the screen while maintaining a natural head and neck position.
  7. Lifestyle and sports: Multifocal contact lenses, rather than spectacles, may be better suited to an active lifestyle, especially if you enjoy contact or extreme sports.

Traditionally multifocal glasses have been the solution for older people, but younger people who may be suffering from digital eye strain could be prescribed multifocal contact lenses as part of the treatment solution for digital eye strain.

The adjustment period can range anywhere from a week to two months. Your eyes will adjust faster if you wear your lenses as much as possible. While adjusting to the lenses, some individuals have eye strain and headaches, so talk to your optometrist about any symptoms you’re experiencing.

Both multifocal glasses and multifocal contact lenses have advantages and disadvantages, and your optometrist can help you determine which is best for your eyes and lifestyle.

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How long can I wear my lenses?

We recommend that the maximum number of hours to wear daily wear contact lenses is between 10-14 hours a day.

It’s important that your eyes receive oxygen from the environment. While contact lenses permit some oxygen transfer, it is far less than if you didn’t wear contact lenses.

Sleeping in lenses

Did you accidentally leave your lenses in overnight?

Even if you fall asleep for only a short while with your lenses in, you may find they have become stuck to the surface of your eye – especially if you are dehydrated, eg after drinking alcohol.

Never attempt to remove the lenses if they do not come out easily. Instead, blink and apply lens comfort drops (if you have them) until your eye surface becomes moister. You may have to leave your lenses in for a while until they rehydrate. The lenses will then become mobile again and you will be able to remove them.

Once you get them out, avoid cleaning and reinserting them. Put them in their case with solution and use your glasses for the rest of the day. This will give your eyes a chance to restore their moisture balance.

If nothing works and you’re still struggling to take your contacts out, call your optometrist.

If you have any persistent discomfort or redness see your optometrist as soon as possible.

Wearing your contacts to bed on a regular basis can be dangerous to your eyesight. Contacts can get dirty and harm your eyes, no matter how careful you are. Bacteria can multiply and cause an inflammation of the eyes known as keratitis.

Continuous wear lenses

If your work or lifestyle requires you to wear your lenses for long periods – and even to sleep in them – there is a lens type that is designed to be worn this way – the continuous wear lens. Ask your optometrist whether this type of lens is suitable for your eyes.

These lenses are thinner than daily use lenses and allow more oxygen through to your eyes.

Continuous wear contacts do have to be taken out – they cannot be worn 24/7.

It’s a good idea to sleep without them at least once a week. Allowing your eyes to breathe without any barriers can give you more comfort and less chance of infections.

Costume contact lenses

Costume contact lenses can alter the look of your eyes without correcting your vision. The lenses can change the colour of your eyes or provide a frightening appearance for a Halloween costume.

But, costume contact lenses can cause serious and permanent eye damage.

Also known as cosmetic or fashion lenses, costume lenses are typically sold by businesses that don’t specialise in eye care. Contact lenses are medical devices that require a proper lens fitting and should only be obtained with an optometrist’s prescription.

Costume (or fashion) contact lenses can cut, scratch and infect your eye if they don’t fit correctly. They can cause corneal abrasions, corneal ulcers and potentially blinding, painful bacterial infections like keratitis.

Costume contact lenses also let less oxygen through to the eye because the paints and pigments used to add colour make the lenses thicker and less breathable.

Dry eye contact lens solution

Scleral contact lenses are an effective solution for patients with dry eyes.

Standard contact lenses sit directly on the cornea and can irritate already sore dry eyes, scleral lenses do not come in contact with the cornea at all and are designed to keep the eyes hydrated throughout the day, providing comfort, and improving dry eye symptoms.

What is dry eye syndrome?

It’s a common condition that results from insufficient tear quantity, or inadequate tear quality.

Your tears are responsible for lubricating and protecting the surface of your eyes. When your tears cannot adequately hydrate your eyes, dry eye symptoms can result.

Dry eye syndrome can be caused by a variety of eye or medical conditions, irritants in your environment, fluctuating hormones, certain medications, and even long term contact lens use.

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Common myths

Myth: Contact lenses aren’t for all ages

Fact: Contact lenses can be worn by anyone over the age of 8. The age a child can start wearing lenses is dependent on their motivation to wear lenses, responsibility, and maturity.

Myth: Contact lenses can get lost behind your eye

Fact: It’s physically impossible for a contact lens to get lost behind your eye. The lens can’t move behind your eye as there is a thin membrane that covers the outside part of your eye and connects to your eyelids. If your lens slips out of place, a few forceful blinks will usually reposition it, or cause it to fall out.

Myth: Contact lenses can get stuck on the eye

Fact: Contact lenses should not stick to your eye if you follow your optometrist’s instructions for wear, care, and removal.  Soft contact lenses can temporarily stick to your eye if they dry out, or if you fall asleep with them in. Usually a few drops of contact lens solution will loosen them, allowing you to remove them.

Myth: Contact lenses can pop out of the eye

Fact: Contact lenses that are properly fitted should never pop out of your eye.  If your lens has moved to another part of your eye, blink a few times or close your eyelid and lightly press on it and the lens should return to its original position.

Myth: Contact lenses are uncomfortable

Fact: Modern contact lenses are designed to be extremely comfortable to wear all day. When you first put lenses on, they may feel strange, but you will quickly get used to them.

If another issue, like dry eye, is making wearing lenses uncomfortable, there are ways to hydrate your eyes so that your lenses don’t irritate them.