Contact Lens Compliance

Q I have recently started wearing contact lenses but I find them a hassle and uncomfortable to wear. I hate wearing glasses and want to persevere with the lenses but feel I am doing something wrong. S.J.

A MERIEK VAN DEN BERG REPLIES:

Some people don’t find contact lenses comfortable and this is the biggest reason why some give up wearing them, especially at the start.

Studies have shown that dryness is the main reason for discomfort when wearing contact lenses. Furthermore, your optometrist must consider your specific lifestyle and requirements when choosing the type of contact lenses that are suitable for your eyes and individual requirements.

It is also important to go for follow-up appointments as indicated by your optometrist after wearing your trial lenses. Discuss any signs and symptoms you might be experiencing. It might be necessary to use lubrication eye drops with your contact lenses and your optometrist will also determine whether the lenses’ fit is right for your eyes. Another type of soft lens, such as a daily lens may have to be considered. These lenses are thinner and more comfortable than monthly lenses. Daily lenses are worn for one day only and must then be discarded. Certain contact lenses are also more suitable for eyes that are prone to dryness.

Another cause of dryness and irritated eyes that might affect the wearing of contact lenses could be eye allergies. It is therefore important to consult with your optometrist who will indicate the correct treatment to clear the allergy.

When working long hours in front of digital screens, one tends to blink a third less than normal, resulting in dry eyes and your contact lenses becoming uncomfortable to wear. An airconditioned office can also dry out the air and cause dry eyes. Eye drops specially formulated for contact lenses will lubricate eyes and offer more comfort. It is important to remember that not all eye drops are suitable or safe for your contact lenses. A good idea is to include omega-3 oils in your diet as this might help with dry eyes.

Ensure that you don’t wear your contact lenses longer than the prescribed time as they will become uncomfortable and can be harmful to your eyes. A monthly lens shouldn’t be worn longer than a month and a daily lens should be worn for one day only.

Contact lens wearers should always have a back-up pair of spectacles for emergencies or to give your eyes a break. Get into the habit of removing your contact lenses when you get home and wearing your spectacles.

Another important point to remember is to follow your optometrist’s guidelines relating to the extended wear of certain types of contact lenses, e.g. sleeping with them in. Although there are contact lenses available on the market that you can wear while sleeping, the risk of infections and problems are less when you remove your contact lenses before going to sleep.

Finally, it is important to gently rub contact lenses with lens solution that has been recommended by your optometrist on a daily basis. This will remove all deposits and simultaneously disinfect your contact lenses. Organisms and bacteria that grow on your lenses can affect not only the contact lens and make it blurry, but can also cause direct infection of the eye and could potentially lead to blindness. Use a new lens solution each time. Ensure that your lens containers dry completely between use to prevent organisms from surviving.

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Contact Lens Compliance

Meriek van den Berg
About The Author
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B OPTOM (UFS) FOA (SA).
Meriek is a qualified optometrist at Mellins i-Style, a leading, full service optometry group in South Africa with more than 50 branches. Meriek is practice manager of the Mellins-Zeiss Vision Centre in the Eikestad Mall, Stellenbosch, in the Western Cape.