Northwest Eye Clinic

ph: (847) 296-4020

1400 E. Golf Road, Suite 212 Des Plaines, IL  60016

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Types of Contact Lenses

Daily-wear Soft Contacts

Daily-wear soft contact lenses are by far the most popular type of contacts worn. Made of a flexible plastic polymer, daily-wear lenses are put in each morning and taken out each night. They rest in a cleaning solution while you sleep. Daily-wear contacts come in many colors and typically last about one year.

Disposable Lenses

Disposable soft lenses are intended to be thrown out and replaced after you've worn them for a certain length of time. This makes them even easier to maintain than regular soft contacts. Many disposable lenses are designed for replacement each morning, every two weeks, or even every three months. Daily-wear disposables are worn during waking hours only, while extended-wear disposables can be worn for longer periods.

Gas-permeable Lenses

Rigid, gas-permeable contacts offer several benefits over soft lenses. They:

  • Can correct a wider range of vision problems, including a high degree of astigmatism;
  • Provide sharper vision than most soft lenses;
  • Allow more oxygen to pass through to the eye, reducing the risk of corneal irritation;
  • Are more durable than soft lenses and don't need to be replaced as often, lasting as long as two or three years.

Because they are much harder than flexible contacts, gas-permeable lenses may take some getting used to when you first start wearing them. They are also more likely than soft lenses to slip off the center of your eye and require adjustment, making them an inconvenient choice for patients who play sports or participate in other demanding activities. However, most patients soon grow accustomed to the feel of gas-permeable lenses and are satisfied with the improvement in vision they offer without the need for glasses.

We recommend that you never sleep in your contact lenses as it puts you at increased risk for a severe eye infection.

Causes for Contact Lens Irritation and Infection

Irritation and infection from contact lenses is directly linked to poor hygiene, contact lens over wear, or poor contact lens fit.

If a contact lens is not cleaned properly, the patient is at great risk for a multitude of infections.

Acanthamoeba keratitis is a rare, very painful, and potentially blinding infection of the cornea. The organism that causes the infection has been found in most environments including domestic tap water, chlorinated swimming pools, hot tubs and bottled water. It is also present in the nasal passages of healthy people.

Wash your hands with soap and water before you put in or take out contact lenses. Do not use tap water to rinse or to store lenses.

Do not wear contacts while showering, in hot tubs, or swimming without goggles. Soft lenses absorb chemicals and microbes from the water. Gas permeable lenses may float out of the eyes.

Contacts should not be worn while sleeping. Sleeping with lenses in the eyes, deprives the cornea of oxygen; this increases the risk of infection. For extended-wear lenses, follow your eye doctor's recommendations for the length of time you can safely leave the lenses in your eyes. Over use of contact lenses may create abnormal blood vessels growing into the normally clear cornea.

Always put your contacts in your eyes before you put on makeup. Use water-soluble makeup. Do not use lash-building mascara, because particles may get into your eyes. If you put eyeliner between your lashes and your eyes, you may discolor soft lenses permanently.

Do not put contact lenses in your mouth to moisten or clean them, it may increase the risk of eye infection. A major cause of serious infections is using saliva to clean the lens. This happens when a contact lens wearer must remove a lens or if a lens falls out of the eye and no solution is available. The best prevention is to have a small bottle of rewetting solution with you at all times. Never put contact lenses in your mouth to lubricate them.

Some people use homemade or non-contact-lens saline solutions in an effort to save money. These solutions may cause severe irritation or blinding infections (some saline solutions are not sterile) and should never be used. Always use the correct contact-lens solution recommended by the fitter. If you want to change solutions, you should first check with your doctor because some solutions may be incompatible with certain lenses. Switching solutions without the advice of your contact lens practitioner is not recommended.

If lenses are worn longer than recommended or in people whose eyes are particularly sensitive, lenses may develop deposits on the surface and cause irritation.

Each time you wear your lenses you should check that your eyes look clear (no redness), feel comfortable and see well. If they do not, remove your lenses immediately. See your eye doctor promptly if you have burning, redness, pain, unusual light sensitivity, or blurred vision.

Most cases of infections are preventable if you follow the instructions given by your doctor and have regular check-ups as specified by your practitioner.

Contact lens intolerance is associated with the following conditions:

  • Irritated eyes from allergies or exposure to dust or chemicals at the job
  • An overactive thyroid gland
  • Uncontrolled diabetes
  • Severe arthritis
  • Dry eyes
  • Pregnancy
  • Eye disease that affects the surface of the eye

Also, the use of birth control pills, diuretics, antihistamines, or decongestants increases contact lens intolerance.

Purchase Replacement Lenses

Northwest Eye doctors will check your eyes to make sure that your contact lenses are suitable for you. Today, nearly everyone can buy and wear contact lenses, but there are certain situations where people are advised not to.

If you would like to wear contact lenses, you must first see an ophthalmologist, or optometrist. This is the case even if you don't normally wear glasses and just want contacts to change your eye color. Remember that contact lenses are medical devices and as such they need to be properly fitted by an eye care practitioner. Contact lenses can only be legally purchased with a prescription.