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A Closer Look at Contact Lenses -- Part I

Dr. Mark Fromer -- While contact lenses improve vision, are an alternative to regular glasses, and cosmetically change eye color, they are medical devices and require a prescription for purchase. Here's some insight to see if contacts are suitable for you.

As you know, contact lenses are small, soft pieces of plastic, shaped to fit your eyes. Contact lenses correct some vision problems, such as nearsightedness, farsightedness or astigmatism. They float on the tear film in front of the transparent covering of the eye called the cornea. Contact lenses help your eyes focus the same way that glasses do, to improve your vision.

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.

Mark D. Fromer, M.D., board certified ophthalmologist in surgery and treatment of eye diseases, has the distinction of being the eye surgeon for the New York Rangers hockey team. Dr. Fromer specializes in laser vision correction procedures, lectures extensively throughout the U.S., and maintains a very active role in teaching advanced surgical techniques and laser vision correction surgery to fellow ophthalmologists. Fromer Eye Centers, with three offices in NYC, is one of only four beta sites worldwide for the latest diagnostic software developed by Heidelberg instruments for the early detection and treatment of diabetic macular edema. For more information on this and other forms of advanced vision care, visit Fromer Eye Centers.

© 2009 Dr. Mark Fromer

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The views and opinions expressed in these articles do not necessarily reflect those of College Central Network, Inc. or its affiliates. Reference to any company, organization, product, or service does not constitute endorsement by College Central Network, Inc., its affiliates or associated companies. The information provided is not intended to replace the advice or guidance of your legal, financial, or medical professional.