Contact Lens Q&A: Part 1

Q: Are my glasses and contact lens prescriptions the same?

A: Though your glasses and contact lens prescriptions both help you to see better, they are often different for several reasons.  First, the contact lens Rx has additional information including the material of the contact lens, the diameter, and the base curve.  These elements are evaluated to ensure the lens fits appropriately on your eye.  Also, small amounts of astigmatism correction may be necessary in your glasses Rx and not in your contact lens Rx.

Additionally, if a glasses prescription is greater than 4 diopters in strength the contact lens Rx must be modified.  These last two reasons are due to the different way light bends through a prescription that sits in front of your face as opposed to a prescription that makes direct contact with your eye.  If you are still not sure if you understand, just blame physics.

Q: What happens if I sleep in my lenses or wear them longer than prescribed?  I have done it for years and never had any problems.

A:  Different brands of contact lenses have different recommendations concerning extended wear and replacement schedule.  Contact lenses always decrease the amount of oxygen and moisture your cornea receives.  Oxygen is necessary to maintain good health and an environment that can easily fight infection. Anytime you deviate from the prescribed recommendations, you put your eyes at increased risk for discomfort and infections. Ever complain about your eyes feeling dry with your contact lenses in?

The first thing to consider is making sure you adhere to the recommended wear cycle.  Even if you have stretched the wear time of your lenses for years with no bad consequences, your eyes cannot handle it indefinitely and will eventually become symptomatic and you put your eyes at risk for permanent vision loss.  Are you sensing the theme yet?  Always wear your lenses as they were prescribed by your doctor.

Q: What cleaning solution should I use?

A:  Ok, people don’t usually ask me this, but they should and I’ll take this opportunity to let you know my recommendations.  Opti-Free Pure Moist is my go-to multi-purpose cleaning solution.  Many studies have been performed to demonstrate its superior cleaning and comfort.  I know it can be more expensive than the generic solution, but I truly believe it is worth it.  Name brand solution and name brand Q-tips, always worth it.

For people who have sensitivities to traditional saline solutions, have seasonal allergies, or have contact lenses with more deposits I recommend a peroxide based cleaner called Clear Care.  Peroxide based cleaners are arguably the best cleaners on the market, but their directions for use are a little more complicated and must be followed strictly.  If you need a rewetting drop for symptoms of dryness, I usually recommend Systane Ultra or Refresh Optive.