Last week, we talked about the pros and cons of ordering your contact lenses online. This week, we look at which brand of contact lenses would be suitable for you. And, if you are a first-time contact lens wearer, we will discuss what the factors you need to consider before deciding on which brand of contact lenses you should buy are? These factors include soft or hard contact lenses? Corneal or scleral lenses? Daily disposables or monthly disposables? What about the contact lens material? And finally, what about the costs?
Contact Lenses, A Brief History
The concept of altering the power of our eyes by the use of lenses which sit on our cornea dates back to the time of Leonardo Da Vinci in the 1500s. He found that you could change the corneal power by placing your head underwater. Fast forward to the late 1800s, rigid lenses made out of glass were designed to sit on the sclera (the white part of the eye). This concept was the early prototype of the modern, as we know it, soft contact lenses which are much more comfortable and more biocompatible.
Soft or Hard (Rigid) Contact Lenses
Soft contact lenses are readily available and can generally be used as a substitute for your glasses to correct your vision. Soft contact lenses are typically promoted online as they are easy to stock and manufacture. They are easy to stock and manufacture due to their limiting parameters such as the diameter of the lens as well as the base curve (the shape). Different contact lens company produce lenses with different parameters. For example, Coopervision MyDay is only available in with a base curve of 8.4, a diameter of 14.2. Whereas Alcon Daily Total 1 only comes in 8.5 base curve with a diameter of 14.1. You may not feel the difference in comfort when you try between a Coopervision and an Alcon branded contact lens, but how they interact with your eye during the contact lens wear could vary dramatically. For instance, the contact lens may sit very tight, which could give you the illusion of a comfortable lens. At the end of the day after 16 hours of wear, your eye may feel very dry and irritated. This is why at Capital Eye, we review the fitting of your contact lenses at the initial fitting appointment. This is to ensure that the contact lenses we fit are suitable for your wear schedule.
Not all eyes are suitable for soft contact lenses. If your cornea (the front part of the eye) has a very steep (or flat) curvature, the simple everyday soft contact lenses may not be suitable for you. This is because of a soft contact lens with a single curvature (or shape) is not designed to patients with extreme corneal curvature. In most cases, these patients would achieve a more satisfactory vision outcome by using a custom-designed rigid contact lens. Certain corneal conditions such as keratoconus, vision can only be met using hard rigid contact lenses. Without screening and documenting your corneal curvature, it is challenging to recommend whether you are suitable for soft or rigid contact lenses. To do this, we can assume our patients have normal corneal curvature. But at Capital Eye, we use advanced corneal mapping technology with our K5 Corneal Topographer. Not only this takes away all the guesswork for selecting a contact lens for you, but it will also screen for other corneal conditions and dystrophy which otherwise would be difficult to detect.
Daily Disposables or Monthly Disposables?
Now that we’ve determined that you’re suitable for soft contact lens from our corneal scans, and confirming your eyes are healthy, we would discuss what your expectations are for contact lens wear. Is it so that you can be glasses-free during a concert on a weekend? Do you find when you are playing your favourite sports, your glasses are becoming more of a hassle (and keep breaking them!)? Or you want to be wholly glasses-independent and want to wear contact lenses every day?
If you find you only wear contact lenses once a week, daily disposables would be a better option compared to monthly contact lenses. With daily disposables, you don’t need to worry about storing them at the end of the day as you are using a new pair of fresh contact lenses every time you need to wear them. The pack size of daily contact lenses are usually 30 in a box, so with 30 pairs, you can pick the days you want to wear them without having to remember when you open your monthly lenses.
If you plan to use contact lenses 3 – 4 times a week, you can consider using monthly contact lenses. The pack size of monthly lenses generally comes with three lenses. So each box of monthly lenses would last for three months if used correctly. You would need to purchase some contact lens solutions and a case for storage for the times you don’t wear them. It is also important to note that even you only wear the lenses for 3 – 4 times a month, it only lasts for one month. Many people make the mistake of thinking they would wear the lenses for the entire month and opt to purchase monthly contact lenses where in fact they only use them sparingly throughout the year. It may seem more economical to buy monthly lenses at first. However, if you factor in the solution you need to purchase as well as your own time to clean them, the costs are often comparable to daily disposable contact lenses.
The Contact Lens Material and Costs
Do you know even if you’ve decided on whether to purchase dailies or monthlies contact lenses, the material of these lenses are different? They could be made from hydrogel or a silicon hydrogel (Si-Hy). This does not mean a lot to you at the moment, but a silicon hydrogel material lets more oxygen through the lens compared to the first hydrogel lenses. Choosing a contact lens using the latest material offers the best biocompatibility with your eyes and reduces your risk of contact-lens related complications.
You would find that with daily contact lenses, prices vary from $30 to $60 per box. A quick online search shows that a premium daily contact lens such as Acuvue Oasys Daily Disposable or Alcon Daily Total 1 is for sale at $53.99 to $56.99 for a box of 30. Cheaper lenses such as Acuvue Moist are for sale for $30.99, but the material has poorer oxygen permeability values compared to the premium lenses mentioned above.
The Bottom Line
Contact lenses can either be soft or rigid, and everybody is suitable for soft lenses, especially if you have a corneal condition such as keratoconus. At our optometry clinic in Canberra, we routinely screen for these conditions with our advanced corneal topographer. With our topographer, we can quickly determine whether you’re suitable for soft or rigid contact lenses.
Soft contact lenses are widely available, but the drawbacks are that the parameters are often limited and it varies between different brands. Even with the same prescription, the comfort of different type of lens is different with different brands. This is why when your optometrist recommends a specific brand, your contact lens prescription will state this as it is the best fit for your eyes.
Contact lens comes in dailies, fortnightlies and monthlies. Choosing between these depends on how you plan to wear your contact lenses. Often you’ll find dailies are much more convenient and sometimes cheaper option compared to monthlies if you find yourself only wearing contact lenses a couple of days per month.
All of the factors in deciding, fitting and choosing your contact lenses are a part of our standard contact lens consultation package. If you want to find out whether you’re suitable for contact lenses, book an appointment with us today. We look forward to welcoming you soon.