Frequently Asked Questions
There's a lot to know about contact lenses, so we've answered the most frequently asked questions on this page. You can read all of them or click only on the ones you particularly want to know about:
A. Contact lenses have proven to be a healthy vision option for millions of people. But only your eye care professional can determine if they are healthy for you.
If you follow all prescribed steps for inserting, removing, and caring for them, contact lenses will continue to be safe and effective. You also need to see your eye care professional regularly to ensure long-term corneal health.
A. The cost of contact lenses can vary greatly. If you have a difficult prescription or need correction for problems like astigmatism, your lenses will be more expensive. If you have no special requirements, your options will range from daily disposables (the highest cost) to GP contacts, which are thought by many to provide the greatest value. GP contacts, though initially more expensive, can last for years and are inexpensive to care for.
Consumer Reports called GP contact lenses a better buy "because they're more durable and cheaper to maintain." Fortunately, GP contacts can also accommodate any prescription, no matter how difficult, because they are custom-made for each individual wearer.
Learn more about GP contact lenses.
A. As soon as the need for vision correction is identified, contact lenses are a viable option. In fact, they have frequently been used in premature infants, who sometimes have vision problems. With proper care and lens maintenance, infants, young children, teens, and adults of all ages can wear contacts successfully.
If you're a parent, click here for more information.
A. Sports vision doctors agree that contact lenses are the best vision correction option for athletes. They can enhance visual skills like depth perception, peripheral awareness, and eye-hand/eye-foot coordination.
Unlike glasses, contacts offer athletes a competitive advantage because they stay in place under dynamic conditions, provide a wider vision field, and eliminate the risk of glasses-related injuries. Contact lenses also make it easy to wear protective goggles.
A. Many contact lens specialists agree that GP contact lenses, which are made of firm plastic, may slow the progression of nearsightedness (myopia). Myopia control is one reason why GP contacts are an excellent choice for many school-aged children and teens. Various eye care practitioners are continuing research in this area.
A. Yes. Astigmatism is distorted vision caused by an irregularly shaped cornea. Contact lenses for astigmatism are called toric lenses, and they come in both soft and GP contact lens materials.
GP contacts tend to work better for astigmatism, because they are custom-fit to your eyes' particular shape; also, their firm material keeps its original shape more when you blink. In addition, moderate amounts of astigmatism may be corrected with a regular, non-toric GP contact lens.
A. No. When they were first available in 1971, soft contact lenses were a giant leap in technology and comfort over old-style hard contact lenses.
But GP contact lenses, first marketed in 1978, are a next-generation advancement. New, recently developed materials and designs make them a state-of-the-art option for contact lens wearers, offering sharper vision, better corneal health, longer lens life, and greater ease of care than most soft contacts.
A. It differs from lens to lens:
- GP contacts, which last for years, need daily cleaning and disinfecting, but their slick surface resists deposit buildup.
- Daily disposable soft lenses are worn once, then discarded, with no maintenance required.
- Other disposable soft lenses are usually cleaned at the end of the day, then soaked in disinfecting solution until they're worn again, and may be replaced weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly.
- Soft lenses that are replaced quarterly or annually might require weekly enzyming in additional to daily care.
A. Soft contact lenses are available that will change the color of your eyes, even if you don't require vision correction. Costume lenses for Halloween or theatrical purposes are also available.
GP contact lenses sometimes have a color "handling tint" a light tint that makes them easier to see but GPs are not available in colors that will change the appearance of your eyes. A GP lens is smaller than the size of the iris, so GP color lenses would not look natural.
All color contacts are prescribed medical devices that must be fitted and followed up by your eye care professional. And remember, even though such lenses might provoke curiosity by your friends and family members, never share them with anyone. Sharing lenses can lead to dangerous health problems.
Learn more about soft colored contact lenses.
A. It is your choice:
- Optometrists (Doctors of Optometry, or ODs) perform eye examinations, treat eye disease, prescribe vision correction, fit contact lenses, and dispense eyeglasses.
- Ophthalmologists are medical doctors (MDs) who specialize in eyes. Many concentrate on eye surgery and treatment of disease, but some specialize in contact lenses.
- Also, in some states specially trained opticians or contact lens technicians are licensed to fit contact lenses. Since they must fit the lenses from an optometrist's or ophthalmologist's prescription, they often work with them in the same office.
A. Ask your doctor. It depends on the type of lens you're wearing, the composition of your tear film, your general eye health, and other factors.
GP contact lenses and certain soft lenses can be slept in, but never wear them while sleeping unless your eye care practitioner says you can.
A.This is a common and natural concern, more often experienced by males, since females are accustomed to touching the eyelids when applying makeup.
It helps to first get used to touching your eyes without applying a lens. One very successful technique is to place a warm (not hot) drop of water on your index finger and bring it up to the eye and actually touch your eye. The water has a numbing effect such that you may not even feel your finger against your eye. Your eye care professional may also decide to use a numbing drop immediately prior to applying contact lenses for the first time.
It's easier than you think to get used to lens application. If fact, often when people get used to inserting and removing lenses, they question why they did not make the commitment to contact lenses sooner.
[Page updated September 2009]