Contact lenses are worn by millions of Americans and are a popular choice to correct refractive errors of the eye (nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism). Contact lenses also are used therapeutically to help stabilize the cornea's shape in some degenerative eye disorders (keratoconus). Contacts are even used cosmetically to change the color of the eyes. There are many types of contact lenses to choose from. Your optometrist will make a recommendation based on your individual needs. For more information about contact lenses or to schedule an appointment with a Virginia Mason optometrist, call 206-223-6840.
If you would like to order contact lenses through Virginia Mason, call 206-223-6958. The contact lens dispensary is located in the Buck Pavilion, Level 4.
Types of contact lenses
There are numerous options available to correct your vision with contact lenses. Your optometrist will make recommendations that best suit your needs.
Soft spherical contact lenses
Soft lenses are the most common type of contact lenses today and are worn by millions of individuals. These lenses are indicated for patients who don't have a significant amount of astigmatism or dry eyes. Soft disposable are the most widely used type of soft lens. These are replaced on a one day, one week. two week or one month schedule.
Gas permeable lenses
Although not widely used, they have some advantages over soft contacts. They generally provide slightly better vision, and last much longer. Their primary disadvantage is that they take longer to adapt to and are not as comfortable.
Bifocal contacts are available, however, they are generally not suitable for patients with high visual demands.
As an alternative to bifocal contacts, monovision tends to have a much higher success rate. In this modality a patient will wear contacts that correct one eye for distance and the other for near vision. Although there is some vision compromise, many patients adapt well and are satisfied with their vision.
Toric soft contacts
Toric soft contact lenses are used when patients have high amounts of astigmatism. This type of lens will correct nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism.
Extended wear lenses
Extended wear lenses provide the patient with the option of sleeping in their contacts for a prescribed period of time. This modality of contact lens wear should be approached with caution and under close supervision of your optometrist. Patients must be aware that sleeping while wearing contacts increases the risk of certain corneal diseases and is not recommended in most cases.
Colored and special effects lenses
There are numerous types of colored soft contacts available on the market. They are generally used to enhance or change a patient's eye color. A specialized colored contact lens can be custom ordered to help normalize the appearance of a patient's eye that has been altered by trauma or disease.
Care of contact lenses
There are a number of important steps, shown below, that you can take to ensure that your lenses are clean enough to place in your eyes. Dirty contact lenses are the leading cause of corneal infections in the United States.
Wash your hands before handling your contact lenses.
Clean your contact lenses daily. Rub your contacts with the disinfecting solution, even if the bottle says it is a "no rub" cleaning product.
Clean your storage case daily with warm water.
Do not "top off" your soaking solution in your contact lens case. Use fresh soaking solution every day in a clean case.
Do not use tap water to clean your lenses (although warm tap water to clean your lens case is recommended).
Do not swim, shower or sit in a hot tub with your lenses on. Microscopic organisms can get under your contact lenses and cause an eye infection.
Do not share your lenses with others, especially colored lenses worn for cosmetic purposes.