So you’re thinking of trying contact lenses? Most people are hit with a plethora of lens materials and design options from their doctor. So which is best for you?
Let’s start at the beginning. The rigid gas permeable (RGP) / soft lens debate ended years ago, with soft lenses as the clear preference among wearers. They have the advantage of being initially much more comfortable. Although RGPs can be an excellent choice for astigmatism correction or irregular surfaces, they can cause rough spots to form on the cornea and lead to drooping eyelids after years of wear.
Soft lens choices basically revolve around wearing schedules – overnight versus daily, and how long the lens is worn before discarding it. Again, there are trade-offs: overnight wear is more convenient; daily wear is safer. Although the increased risk of infection and blindness is usually emphasized with overnight wear, there’s another risk: with continuous wear, lenses develop a surface film or biofilm – a coating made of protein and lipid, components of your tears. This film can be recognized by the immune system and cause an allergic reaction, which can reduce comfort and often make people permanently lose the ability to wear contact lenses. Removing lenses nightly and storing them in a good multipurpose solution along with maintaining a recommended replacement schedule can reduce this risk.
Because of these complications, most eye doctors prefer lenses with a daily disposable option for their patients. They are the most convenient and require little to no care. They’re also more comfortable, as many “dry eye” complaints result from biofilm interaction with the eye. With daily disposables, the biofilm is discarded each day, no additional solutions are necessary, and allergies or chemical interactions with solutions are eliminated.
Studies show that patients on monthly or bi-weekly disposal regimens use about $80 to $100 worth of solutions per year. In addition, compared to daily disposable patients, they incur an average of one extra emergency visit every other year for a contact lens problem. A daily disposable method may be most patients’ best option for cost, comfort and convenience.
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By Paul Marvin, OD