There are many factors to consider before wearing contact lenses, such as a person’s lifestyle, working environment and even eye condition
Wearing contact lenses is usually aimed at correcting a refractive error for therapeutic reasons or even for beauty. Users are spoilt for choice as there are many brands in the market, differing in quality and size.
Therefore, it is essential for those who opt to wear contact lenses to undergo a comprehensive eye examination to determine the lenses most suited to them.
Obtaining your contact lens
According to Anna Bong, Optometrist and Founder of Anna Eyecare Optometry, it’s best to get a specialist consultation and eye examination for those who choose to wear contact lenses.
“Most people tend to visit optometry shops and buy lenses without a comprehensive check. That is not the way,” said Anna.
“Whether the person is a new wearer or has experience wearing them, the first thing I will explore is the history and symptoms. This is to understand why they want to wear contact lenses.”
She said it was important for optometrists to understand a patient’s lifestyle, working environment and determine if they have any allergies.
“Next would be the eye health examination itself. We will check the front part of the eye and invert the eyelid to see if there’s any growth underneath to ensure it is safe for contact lens wear.
“After that will be the prescription check to get the latest and updated prescription. Only after proper investigation and eye examination will optometrists be able to decide what type of lens would be the best for the wearer.”
Bong said another critical aspect when purchasing contact lenses is to ensure the best size and curvature. This is because there is no standard size or free size for the eyes.
“I usually will put the lens on the eye to assess whether it is too tight or too loose and whether it is suitable for that individual.
“For contact lenses, it is crucial to find the best fit possible because it is considered a medical device. It has to be prescribed and fitted properly.”
She said if contact lenses were not correctly prescribed, issues such as the lack of oxygen on the eye and discomfort would come up. Bong shared that Acuvue lenses are the best in the market as they came in two different curvature sizes.
“With Acuvue lenses, I’m able to pick which curvature is the best for the person’s eye to maintain their eye health for a very long time.”
As for new wearers, they will need to be taught how to insert and remove the lens.
“And of course, aftercare is essential. That means the new wearers have to come back within a specific time. For example, for a regular wearer, it would be at least once a year.
“For new wearers, we’ll have to see them a week after they wear their daily contact lenses, then gradually move to a month, three months, six months and after that every year.”
She explained that regular visits are to replenish the contact lenses and ensure eye health and make sure the contact lenses are still suitable.
“Sometimes, when patients change their job or lifestyle, the contact lenses may no longer suit them. As an optometrist, I will have to give them what will be the next possible best option to suit their lifestyle.”
Tips and guide for new wearers
It is important for to learn rules surrounding contact lenses, which involves how to wear and remove contact lenses, as well as how to care for the contact lens. It may seem complicated, but with practice, it will be second nature to the wearers.
Here are simple guidelines and tips for new wearers:
- Contact lens care tips:
- Clean and dry contact lens storage case at least once a week
- Replace your contact lens storage case at least every three months
- If the lens falls off the finger, blinked it out of the eyes or removed, use some solution to clean it again before the next attempt
- Use only sterile saline solution to rinse the lens
- Regular blinking helps keep your lenses clean and moist
Anna noted young wearers tend to be more responsible and compliant in following the proper contact lens care.
“To be honest, children are more compliant than adults. When we teach children the proper contact lens care, they will remember the steps and follow them accordingly.
When wearing contact lens for the first few times, you should expect to feel the edges of the lenses. However, the eyes will soon become accustomed to the feeling.
If you are experiencing unusual redness, constant pain or discomfort, remove the lens and do not put them back. Check for rips or tears, and ensure that they are right. Visit your eyecare professional to get the problem diagnosed.
Importance of regular eye examination
Usually, people would undergo an annual health check-up or blood test to rule out diseases. Likewise, for the eye, it requires regular examination.
“The eye is the second most complicated organ after the brain, so we have to pick up any early signs to prevent it from becoming worse.
“There are many eye diseases. They may not have symptoms in the early stages. So, it is important to have eye health examinations at least once a year for adults. It’s not about the prescription but about the status of eye health.
“It is best not to wait until your vision is affected, where there is a partial or total loss of sight in one eye or both eyes,” Bong stressed.
She shared that the common misconception was if they could see clearly with their glasses, it meant their eyes were okay.
“But at times, that might not be the case. I’ve seen people with perfect vision, but something wrong can be detected after a thorough eye examination. Eventually, it can turn out to be a brain tumour.
“I’ve had a patient came in with sudden blurred vision, but after examination was diagnosed with diabetic macular edema. This was not a sudden occurrence but is a complication of diabetes, which cannot be solved with a pair of glasses.
“I asked her to record her blood sugar every day for a week to let me see how it is and look for potential treatment to stop or slow down the progression instead.
“So, never wait until there is something wrong with your vision to get your eyes checked. It should be done regularly,” said Bong, who regards herself as an eye care enthusiast.
However, for children, eye checks must be more frequent because the changes and damage can be quicker than adults.
“It should be at least every six months unless the optometrist finds any serious changes which will require more frequent visits.”
Children’s eye examination focus slightly different
She has seen kids with eye muscle problems or huge jumps in their prescription in a short time that may need them to see eye care specialists every month as they may need vision therapy.
“I have young patients whom I see every one to three months. So, it depends on the situation. I would recommend everyone to do a comprehensive eye examination at least once a year which involves checking the eye from the front to the back part.
“The whole process usually takes about half an hour to 45 minutes, depending on how the person responds during the examination. But for children, the eye examination’s focus will be slightly different. It is more on the eye development and to identify any changes or early signs for eye conditions such as amblyopia, which is a lazy eye, and so on.”
Bong shared she was always looking to improve and upgrade her eye care facilities in her optometry store located in Kuching, Sarawak.
“I have a lot of equipment in my store for various purposes, not just to check the prescription but to check the eye pressure and so on. They include retinal photography, which allows her to check the status of the patient’s retina over time.
“So, when they come back a year later, I’ll show them if it looks identical, which is good. For some, for example, those with diabetes, there may be slight bleeding when they come back a year later.
“They need to see for themselves, so they will know how urgent it is and understand what they have to do following my advice.”
She also has a visual field perimeter machine, which checks the field of view and the eye’s sensitivity, including central vision and side vision. — The Health