Like many late 30 somethings, my eyesight has got progressively worse over the last decade. I now need glasses for things like work presentations, watching television and reading signs but my eyesight is not so bad that I wear them all day every day.
During this time, I’ve resolutely stuck to glasses, not even entertaining the idea of contact lenses. Why on earth would you choose to stick a foreign object in your eye? The one time my sister had tried to test me out with her own – which, since working in the optical profession, I realise is very silly given we have a different prescription, eye shape etc – resulted in a comedic 15 minutes of the lens not making it within one inch of my eye.
However, this year, a ski trip in January made me think again – wouldn’t it be great to really see the slopes properly this year – and actually quite a lot safer? My biennial sight test last October informed me that my sight had deteriorated further over the last two years, and you never really know what conditions you might face on the slopes – sunshine one minute, white-out the next. Yes, I could have invested in prescription goggles and sunglasses but I decided to bite the bullet and have a contact lens assessment, knowing they’d be useful for more than just a long weekend on the slopes. Assessment booked and a completely painless 20 minutes later, I was deemed suitable for lenses by my optometrist and recommended a popular daily brand which they had in stock in my prescription.
A mere day later and I was back with the practice’s dispensing optician for my ‘teach’ – essentially lots of useful advice about using and looking after my lenses plus me putting them in and taking them out without assistance – and off I went with my new contacts. I’m happy to report that I’m delighted! But it hasn’t all been plain sailing; getting them in and out at first was a struggle. The natural reaction to something going into your eye is to close them both which doesn’t help when you need to see what you’re doing. I’ve also managed to put the left lens in inside out a handful of times. I have no problems with the right, just the left – quite common I’m assured by one of the AOP’s optometrist staff members. But, for me, the benefits of contacts outweigh the shaky start. They are comfortable, make the world seem a whole lot brighter and are really hassle free. Plus, they made me much more confident on the slopes, and we really did face all weathers in that long weekend.
Like with my glasses, I won’t be wearing them all the time but for sport and for those occasions when my vanity wins out, I’m a contact lens convert.
Top tips for looking after your contact lenses
- Good lens wear and care is essential to prevent avoidable eye problems. Wash your hands and dry them thoroughly before using any type of contact lens and follow all the recommended procedures.
- Never use tap water to clean lenses – this could lead to serious problems, including corneal ulcers and eye infections. Follow the manufacturer’s directions for cleaning, disinfecting and wearing the lenses.
- Don’t share or swap lenses with anyone else.
- If in doubt, take them out. If you experience any signs of redness, pain or loss of vision – consult your optometrist or optician immediately for advice.
- Commit to regular after care appointments with your optometrist – at least once a year, or more often if your optometrist recommends it or if you’re experiencing problems.
And finally, if you haven’t yet invested in lenses but are considering them. Make sure you buy your lenses from an optometrist, optician or other properly supervised supplier. By law, zero powered lenses can only be supplied by, or under the supervision of, a registered optometrist, dispensing optician or medical practitioner. Unregulated lenses could be made with inferior materials or may have failed to pass safety or quality standards. Don’t risk it!
For more advice and our top tips video, visit our 'Advice for contact lens wearers' section.
For more information on eye health, explore our 'For patients' section.
Vicky Vine is the Communications Director at the Association of Optometrists. Vicky joined the AOP in 2014 having previously worked at the British Veterinary Association as Head of Marketing.