Almost anyone can try contact lenses. If you would like clear vision, with a wide field of view, not having to worry about spectacles fogging up, getting wet or moving around, then contact lenses may be for you. Recent developments in contact lens design and material mean that contact lens wear is now an option for the vast majority of our patients. Even if you have previously tried contact lenses and given up, or been told you are not suitable for contact lenses, now may be the time to try again! Contact lens technology has changed vastly over the last few years and is now a viable option for most prescriptions, including for reading.
Our Optometrist Kathryn wears contact lenses herself and over the last ten years has tried almost every lens on the market, both on herself and suitable volunteers. Constantly researching the very latest lens designs and materials means that at every contact lens appointment you will be kept up to date with the latest developments, ensuring that you always wear the most appropriate lens available.
Whenever possible we recommend a UV inhibiting contact lens, offering protection against damaging UV rays which through gradual exposure throughout life can cause macular degeneration, cataracts, and melanomas. Sunglasses should always be worn in sunny conditions to protect your eyelids, wearing UV blocking lenses gives you peace of mind your eyes are always protected. UV protection is particularly important for children as their larger pupils and clearer lenses inside their eyes means that more UV gets in than in an adult's eye. Click to read more about sunglasses.
One of the most common reasons that patients used to stop using contact lenses was because of dry eyes. With new advancements in contact lens materials and dry eye management, this is now rarely a problem. Contact lens materials have been developed to feel as if you are not wearing a lens at all. We also now run specialist treatment clinics for dry eye. So ask your optometrist if you can try contact lenses again and you will be pleasantly surprised.
Frequency of wear
If you want to wear contact lenses almost every day or only for certain occasions such as nights out, sports, weddings or in the rain, there is a lens suitable for all frequencies of wear.
Daily disposables Single use lenses reduce the risk of infection, improve comfort and improve the ease of use. These lenses are ideal both for frequent or infrequent wear.
Monthly / 2 Weekly Disposables These are soft lenses that when used are cleaned and stored in a container. After a month or 2 weeks, they are then disposed of.
Non-disposable soft lenses These are lenses designed to last up to one year. They can be used for specialized custom fit lenses.
Extended wear These are lenses that can be slept in overnight. They are monthly or two-weekly lenses made of silicon hydrogel, which is excellent at allowing oxygen to the eye compared to standard materials. You should never sleep in your lenses unless advised that it is safe to do so by your Optometrist.
Toric contact lenses for astigmatism are now available in daily, monthly, extended wear and multifocal lenses.
Multifocal contact lenses and monovision correction is an excellent way to correct both your distance and near vision at the same time. If you like the thought of no more reading glasses, just ask your optometrist. The Acuvue 1-DAY ACUVUE® MOIST MULTIFOCAL is a brand new lens which corrects both distance and near vision to allow clear vision at all distances without the need to put glasses over the top. Optometrist Heather has been wearing the lenses herself with great success.
Gas-permeable lenses These lenses are also known as RGPs.They are newer progression rigid or hard lenses made of plastics combined with other materials, such as silicone and fluoropolymers, which allow oxygen in the air to pass directly through the lens. For this reason, they are called gas permeable. Once fitted, they are replaced every year.
RGPs are sometimes the first lens of choice for particularly complex prescriptions which may not be available in soft lenses. The range of soft lenses in recent years has seen a decline in RGP lenses and now only a few specialist opticians have extensive experience of fitting these lenses. At Buchanan Optometrists, we have over 25 years of experience in fitting such lenses and often receive referrals from hospitals for more complex cases such as keratoconus (irregularly shaped corneas).
Children and Contact Lenses
You are never too young or old! Our current youngest wearer is eight years old and our oldest 85! Throughout your life, contact lenses can be an excellent way to correct your vision and provide a change from wearing glasses. Children especially enjoy wearing contact lenses. It can boost the confidence of a shy or bullied spectacle wearer. It can improve vision correction over the long term by simply ensuring your child wears the correct prescription all day (rather than risking them taking the glasses off when nobody is looking!) It allows freedom to enjoy sports without the risk of injury or the inhibition of spectacles falling off or getting in the way. Most schools require pupils to remove spectacles for sports to reduce the possibility of injury in the event of falling or being hit in the face. This often simply increases the risk of a child having a fall or accident and considerably raises inhibition and curtails enjoyment. Contact lenses are the ideal, safe, easy solutions. Children of any age are safe to wear lenses. And once taught by us how to safely insert and remove the lenses and how to look after their eyes, contact lens wear in children is as safe as it is in adults.
We usually suggest daily disposable lenses as the first lens of choice for children. These lenses are the easiest to use and offer the best health benefits. They are also economical if your child should loose or break one. The lenses are single use thus eliminating the need to clean or store the lens which can be difficult for children to comply with.
Children often find contact lenses much easier to use than you may think. We spend lots of time explaining and showing them how to insert and remove the lenses. All our staff are extremely patient and experienced at working with children of all ages.
Read some of our testimonials to see how children enjoy wearing contact lenses.
Keratoconus is a condition which causes the cornea to become misshapen and requires specialist contact lenses to improve the vision. A well fitted keratoconic contact lens can improve vision often beyond what is possible with spectacles. We provide several types of keratoconic lenses. For more information, please speak to Alisdair or Kathryn.
Cosmetic contact lenses
Some people like to wear coloured lenses for fashion purposes, and lenses that change the iris colour are available in soft daily or monthly replacement lenses. We also provide hand painted lenses for cosmetic purposes for instance in the case of iris coloboma, deformities or uneven iris colours. The normal iris is photographed, and the soft lens is hand painted to match exactly. We are one of a few specialist centres in the UK to be able to provide this service.
FAQ about contact lenses
Can I wear lenses if I have dry eyes? Yes new contact lenses and materials mean that dryness is usually no longer a problem. Contact lenses have got so much more comfortable over the last 2-3 years that even if you had tried lenses before and experienced dryness, this should no longer be a problem.
Warm weather, looking at computers, smartphones, or working in air-conditioned buildings can all cause contact lenses to dry out, leaving eyes uncomfortable, tired feeling, and vision smeary. The new ACUVUE OASYS® Contact Lenses 1-Day with HydraLuxe™ Technology is a daily disposable lens designed specifically to stabilise the tear film, preventing dryness, tiredness, and blur. The reaction from our clients has so far been incredible. Even patients with dry eyes have been able to wear these lenses for extended periods of time.
I need reading glasses. Can I wear contact lenses? Multifocal contact lenses and monovision correction is an excellent way to correct both your distance and near vision at the same time. If you like the thought of no more reading glasses, just ask your optometrist.
Are contact lenses safe to wear? As long as you follow the recommended wearing schedule and advice from your optometrist, contact lenses are perfectly safe to wear. Newer materials allow unprecedented amounts of oxygen to the eye, ensuring long-term health. UV blocking contact lenses offer protection against damaging UV rays, ensuring you maintain healthy eyes for life.
Are contact lenses available in my prescription? Advancements in contact lenses mean that almost every month new lenses are becoming available. Currently, approximately 98% of prescriptions can be corrected by at least one lens type.
Do contact lenses hurt? No, not at all. You should not be able to feel a soft lens in your eye. You should be able to wear the lenses comfortably all day from the very start. The RGP lenses sometimes take a few days to get used to. If your lenses are ever uncomfortable or sore, you should book an appointment to see your optometrist.
Can contact lenses get lost in my eye? No, your eye is a sealed unit! The thin skin that covers the front of your eye is attached to your eyelids providing a barrier that stops lenses going behind the eye. Occasionally if you rub your eyes with contact lenses in, the lens can move under your top or bottom eyelid and be slightly harder to remove. If this happens, we can give you advice on how to remove it yourself, or we can quickly remove it for you. If you ever have a serious contact lens problem and the practice is not open then please telephone Maidstone Eye Unit on 01622 226228.
Can a contact lens get stuck to your eye? No. Very rarely if the eye has become very dry, then the lens can be harder to remove. Stay calm and do not repeatedly poke at the eye! More often than not when patients attend the practice complaining of a ‘lost or stuck’ lens in their eye, there is no lens there. It may have come out and fallen on the floor. So firstly check the lens is in the centre of the eye. If the lens is in place, you will probably be able to see through that eye clearly. If it has moved or fallen out, the vision will be blurred. If the lens is on the center of the eye but feels stuck, lubricate with some contact lens rewetting drops. This will rehydrate the lens after about 10 minutes and then be easy to remove. Never hesitate to call us for advice.
What should I do if I’m concerned I have a contact lens-related infection? If you carefully follow the hygiene rules, wearing schedule and advise given to you by your optometrist who fits the lenses, then you would be unlucky to get a contact lens problem. Never use tap water on lenses as this is a known source of Acanthamoeba- a particularly nasty source of infection. Avoid wearing contact lenses in the shower or swimming. If your contact lenses get wet remove them and replace with a fresh lens. Occasionally you may experience mild discomfort or redness with your lenses. If discomfort is caused by a dirty, dusty or damaged lens, or by the lens being inside out, symptoms will usually improve when the lens is removed. Severe contact lens-related infections are rare but can be serious and potentially sight-threatening if you ignore the symptoms. Therefore, if you have any soreness, blurring, redness or discharge when wearing the contact lenses, take them out and leave them out. If the symptoms do not clear up almost straight away call the practice and book an appointment. It may be just that the eye is dry or has mild conjunctivitis, but we would rather check. Don’t ever worry about wasting our time. If your eye is very blurry, painful, red or photophobic, you require an urgent appointment. If the practice is not open, then please telephone Maidstone Eye Unit on 01622 226228 and explain your symptoms. They will advise you whether you need to be seen urgently or not.
Do I still need glasses if I wear contact lenses? Yes. You cannot wear contact lenses 24/7. Therefore, you must have glasses to wear when you are not wearing your contact lenses. Your optometrist will advise you how long it is safe to wear your lenses for. Certain visual tasks may also be improved with glasses in addition to contact lenses.
I’m not very good at touching my eyes, would I be able to wear contact lenses? Putting lenses in and out is far easier than you may imagine. We train you in the correct techniques to overcome any fear. Once you have got the hang of it, it is easy. Over 3 million people in the UK wear contact lenses and most of those if asked before starting wearing lenses would have said they didn’t particularly like touching their eyes but now don’t think twice about it!!
Can children wear contact lenses? Yes, even very young children. Our current youngest wearer is eight years old.
I only want to wear them occasionally, is this ok? With daily contact lenses, you can wear them as infrequently as you like. The packs of contact lenses do not go out of date for a fair time. Therefore, if you buy three months supply and only wear them a couple of times a week, the box would probably last you for a year. Some patients choose to wear lenses only for certain sports, evenings out or holidays, and this is fine. However usually once you have tried the lenses and experienced the comfort, convenience and excellent vision you will probably want to wear them more often!
I've heard about smart contact lenses that can monitor glaucoma and diabetes. Where can I try these? Here! Buchanan Optometrists is the first and only UK practice where you can be fitted with the glaucoma detecting and monitoring contact lenses. Called Triggerfish, the soft, comfortable contact lens can detect glaucoma earlier and monitor its treatment. Find out more here. Smart lenses for diabetes are currently under clinical trial and are not available yet.
Book your appointment today on 01634 757227 or click HERE and we will call you straight back!