Supporting your move to contact lenses
Thinking of trying out contact lenses? We spoke to our Contact Lens Optician Sam Culham to find out what to expect when you decide to explore whether lenses are the right option for you.
What’s the first step to trying out contact lenses?
The next time you are in for an eye exam, mention to the optometrist that you would like to try contact lenses and they will check your prescription to see whether it’s possible – in most cases it is. Alternatively, if you have recently had an eye exam just give us a call to check you are compatible.
You can then book a tolerance appointment where our contact lens optician will check everything is ok to put a pair of lenses in. We will then fit you with a pair of prescription lenses and you can go and have a wander for half an hour to see if they are comfy and test out how your vision feels. This appointment is free of charge.
What happens next?
If you decide they are for you, we will book you in for a further one-hour appointment where we will help you learn how to put the lenses in and take them out.
When you wear contact lenses there is an increased risk of eye infections, so we will take the time to talk through how to handle your lenses hygienically.
You will be given a short supply of your prescription lenses to try over the next few weeks.
How soon do I need to come back in?
We will book you in for a follow up appointment a few weeks later to check how you’re getting on. Then on average we see patients every six months if they are a frequent lens wearer or every 12 months if they wear them infrequently. For these appointments it’s important you come wearing your lenses unless you are having an issue with them. We will check the prescription and fit are working well and make sure the lenses aren’t causing any issues.
You will still need to have a regular eye examination as we just focus on the front of the eye at the contact lens appointment.
Are contact lenses suitable for everyone?
It’s possible to source contact lenses for most prescriptions – for example there are options available for people with astigmatism or those who need multifocal lenses for reading and distance vision.
However, there may be some medical conditions which make contact lenses unsuitable or situations where people just don’t like the feel of them. For example, if you suffer from dry eyes you may not be able to wear them as much as you would like.
Some people find they feel squeamish about using contact lenses, though we will take the time to help you learn how to put them in and take them out which can help in this case.
What contact lenses do you stock?
As an independent optician we can source contact lenses from any supplier. We regularly use the major manufacturers such as Johnson & Johnson, Acuvue, Coopervision and Alcon but can also source from smaller companies who can make more complex prescriptions and bespoke lenses.
Our most popular lenses are daily disposables. They are convenient as they need no cleaning – you wear them once and then throw them away. However other options are available including two weekly, monthly and yearly lenses. Each has different cleaning requirements, but we will talk you through this when you come to your initial appointment.
Can I switch between wearing contact lenses and glasses?
Absolutely! Many people we see choose just to wear contact lenses for social occasions or when they want to vary their look, while others who aren’t so happy in specs will wear their contact lenses most of the time.
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While enjoying sunnier days and warmer temperatures it’s important to remember to take care of your eyes.
Here is our quick guide to some of the ways you can protect your peepers during the summer months.
Sunglasses are a must, whatever your age
Wearing sunglasses offers your eyes protection against UV rays which, over the years, can cause significant damage to your eyes.
By wearing a good quality pair of sunglasses you’re not just protecting the eye itself but the skin around it, reducing the risk of skin cancer.
Most sunglasses offer full UV protection, cutting out UV to a level required by EU law. Look out for the CE mark to show they conform with legislation.
As long as there are no other sight issues children should also wear sunglasses on bright days. Most damage caused by UV light is accrued over a number of years, so protecting your eyes from a young age can be a real benefit.
Consider the colour of the lenses as well as the size and fit of the sunglasses around your face and go for a pair that cuts out as much light as possible without steaming up or causing inconvenient reflections.
Sand in your eye? Don’t rub it!
There’s nothing better than a sunny day at the beach – until the wind whips up and you find yourself with sand in your eye. If this happens there is one firm rule – don’t rub it!
By rubbing your eye, you are much more likely to scratch the front of it. Even if the sand comes out it will still feel like you have something in there and you open yourself up to infection.
Let your eye water as tears are the body’s natural defence mechanism. Try to let the tears flow and don’t rub them away as they will help to flush out any debris. You can also try very gently pulling the lower lid away from the eye slightly to let the tears flow and well up which should help wash the sand out.
If the irritation continues use an eyebath to soothe your eye, and if it still doesn’t ease then call your optician so they can take a closer look and recommend what you need to do next.
Contact lenses and swimming don’t mix
As a general rule wearing contact lenses while swimming is a no no. For serious swimmers or those who are in the water a lot, ideally opt for a pair of prescription goggles. Otherwise wear an old pair of glasses that you wouldn’t mind losing or damaging as a worst-case scenario.
Combating hay fever
Sadly, one of the downsides of summer for many people is hay fever.
Sufferers often find their eyes become red and itchy with swelling or puffiness around the eyes.
Over the counter treatments such as antihistamine eye drops are usually the best course of action to combat hay fever symptoms. If after a week there is no improvement and your eyes are still dry, itchy and red you should make an urgent appointment at your opticians to make sure you’re not suffering from a different eye condition.
If warmer weather tempts you to play more sport, it’s worth considering investing in eyewear that fits the bill.
Sports frames and prescription goggles really can make a difference to your performance and are much safer, too. To find out more about specialist sporting eyewear take a look at our blog. [link to Glasses, Goggles and Contact Lenses for Sports | Patrick & Menzies (patrickandmenzies.co.uk)]
Check out our selection of sunglasses online.
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Glasses, Goggles and Contact Lenses for Sports
If you play a lot of sport then your regular glasses may be driving you a bit mad – misting up when you get sweaty, shifting when you swing the golf club or getting knocked off in a tackle. You may feel you need to take them off if playing a racquet or more intense contact sport like rugby where an impact could mean serious eye injury. In fact, if you’re a sportsman or woman then wearing your glasses may well be affecting your performance. So, what can be done?
Get Special Glasses or Goggles…
Lenses in sports eye wear are usually made of polycarbonate as it’s an impact-resistant lens material that works well to protect eyes from fast-moving objects. Polycarbonate also has built-in ultraviolet protection – especially important for golfers, cyclists, cricketers and runners who may spend many hours in the sunshine. Untreated polycarbonate lenses can scratch easily, though and so most will include a scratch-resistant coating on both the front and back surface to keep them in shape for longer.
Sport frames are usually constructed of highly impact-resistant plastic and most come with rubber padding to cushion the frame around the temples and on the nose, but sports glasses and goggles are made in a variety of shapes and sizes. There are different designs for different sports and some are even designed to fit inside the helmets necessary for cycling or American football, for example.
Sports protective styles of frames are often contoured, wrapping slightly around the face. They also sometimes come with an elastic restraining strap that hugs the back of the head to keep them firmly in place and they often come in rimless styles or with vents to avoid misting.
If you’re a shooter or sailor, the choice of lens tint may be your ultimate priority and styles popular with those who practice these sports even boast interchangeable lenses to ensure 20/20 visibility in all conditions.
Swimming and ski goggles can be made with lenses that correct your spherical powers (sphere only) or your full prescription, just like a regular pair of glasses. Ski hybrids can come with foam surrounds or side shields to protect from the cold.
The possibilities really are endless, so come and discuss your specific requirements with us.
…Or Switch to Contact Lenses?
Often the most appropriate way of correcting the vision for sport is with contact lenses and we have lenses for every sporting lifestyle: Whether your concern is that you spend a lot of time in the sun and want lenses with UV protection to make sure your eyes are protected, or you’re just tired of glasses which fall off, mist up or impede your peripheral vision at crucial moments, we will find the contact lenses to suit. And that includes those who have varifocal prescriptions or indeed astigmatism.
So even if you have been told you’re not able to wear lenses in the past come and have a chat – chances are we can help. (And for less than you may think!)
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A Short History of Contact Lenses
Isn’t it something of an everyday miracle – pop a tiny little lens in your eye and suddenly, 20-20 vision! For many of us, contact lenses are a lifesaver, but did you ever think how they might have come about?
In 1508 Leonardo da Vinci recorded the idea that the optics of the human eye could be altered by submerging the cornea in a bowl of water in his work Codex of the Eye. Later, in 1636, after reviewing Leonardo’s work, the French scientist Descartes wrote an essay in which he discussed placing a glass tube filled with liquid in direct contact with the cornea to improve eyesight. These ideas, while visionary (do you see what I did there?) were sadly impractical and no significant advances were made for almost two hundred years.
In 1801 Thomas Young made ground-breaking advances in describing astigmatism, and also, the very bold move of gluing water-filled glass tubes to his eyes with wax, building on Descartes’ work. Unsurprisingly this didn’t catch on and it wasn’t until 1845 that another British scientist, John Herschel came up with the idea of casting a mould of an individual cornea and making corrective lenses for that eye. No-one could quite come up with a way of doing that until over 50 years later, when within a year of each other a German false-eye manufacturer called Mueller and a Swiss physician called Flick both made prototypes of glass lenses which fitted over the entire white of the eye. While huge steps forward, these lenses were heavy, uncomfortable and essentially ‘suffocated’ the eye of oxygen so could be tolerated for a few hours at most.
The Americans took over in the 1900s with Feinbloom combining the glass lenses that sat on the cornea with a plastic surround which was more permeable and therefore more comfortable. (This was possible because of advances made by the Hungarian Dr Dallos who had worked on Herschel’s theory of mould-casting and perfected a method of doing so.) Later Kevin Touhy, in a happy accident, broke off the plastic surround of his lens and discovered that his vision was still corrected by using only the part that sat on his cornea. This meant the white of the eye could be left to breathe and so lenses could be tolerated for longer.
After this breakthrough the advances in lens technology came thick and fast: Leonardo’s insistence on the importance of water was borne out by the invention of the hydrogel lens: In 1958 Czech chemist Wichterle, together with his colleague Lim, created the first ‘soft’ lenses that were permeable, pliable and much thinner than glass lenses.
By the 1970s and 80s lenses were becoming more comfortable and could be worn for much longer periods. Today of course we have disposable lenses and even lenses that can be worn overnight or for weeks at a time, with better oxygen permeability and water content, making them a safe, comfortable and convenient option for many people.
Why not come and have a chat with one of our knowledgeable team to find out which type of contact lens may be best for you!
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