10 tips for wearing contact lenses
What contact lenses are available, what can they do and what aspects are important to provide you with better vision?
Contact lenses and glasses make a good team. For many people, they mean more visual freedom to live an active and dynamic lifestyle e.g. during sport or on holiday. They can also hide the fact that you need a prescription, giving you a more natural appearance unhindered by glasses. We have compiled a list of 10 tips for wearing contact lenses to ensure that your eyes remain healthy and relaxed in the long term.
1. Which contact lens for whom?
Firstly, you need to know if your prescription can be corrected by contact lenses:
Contact lenses can correct both near-sightedness (myopia) and long-sightedness (hyperopia), and also other forms of defective vision such as astigmatism and presbyopia. However, it is not possible to integrate compensating prism to correct the misalignment of one eye. This misalignment is called associated heterophoria and can only be corrected by spectacle lenses.
Contact lenses can be categorised as either soft or hard lenses.
Soft contact lenses are grouped according to how long they can be used before they need to be replaced. This is known as modality. There are currently 4 different modalities that are prescribed: dailies which are worn for one day, two-week contact lenses, monthlies, and 6 month replacement and extended wear contact lenses that can be worn for up to 30 days without any need to remove them.
There are two main types of hard contact lenses: standard hard contact lenses are personally fitted to the wearer's eyes and, depending on the material, can be used for one to two years. They are worn during the day and removed at night. Orthokeratology contact lenses are worn when you are asleep and taken out the next morning. During the night these contact lenses change the shape of your cornea to allow you to dispense with any type of visual aid the next day.
Just as for glasses, the professional service of an expert is an absolute must for the fitting of contact lenses. Your optician can provide you with detailed advice and discuss with you which contact lenses are best for your needs. They will give you tips on how to insert and remove your lenses and recommend the best ways to clean them.
Look after your health: As a contact lens wearer, you should go to your eye care professional for regular check-ups.
2. Cleanliness: the number one priority for contact lens wearers!
If you don't clean your glasses, the quality of your vision will suffer. This may be irritating, but it is not harmful. Not with contact lenses. Here cleaning and care are top priorities as the contact lens sits directly on the eye. No matter how obvious it may sound, it is important to wash your hands before inserting or removing your contact lenses.
Tap water is not sterile. Therefore, always use a saline solution to rinse your contact lenses and a suitable cleaning solution to clean both the lenses themselves and your contact lens case. The case should be replaced by a new one every month. The top of your cleaning solution container must be kept germ-free at all times. It should not come into direct contact with either your fingers or the contact lenses. Do not use contact lens cleaning agents after the expiry date. Clean and disinfect your contacts immediately after removing them, first manually before placing them in the contact lens case.
Always store contact lenses hygienically in the storage solution in an appropriate case. Replace the solution after use to ensure it remains germ-free. All-in-one solutions can be used for cleaning and storing your lenses. It is important to use the right cleaning agents for your particular contact lenses in order to prevent any harmful chemical reaction.
3. How long should contact lenses be worn for? What's good for your eyes?
Contact lenses just shouldn't be worn 24/7. Give your eyes a break – and some fresh air. Experts generally advise against wearing contact lenses for longer than eight hours.
However, there is no definite rule, as the wearing time depends on each individual wearer and on the type and quality of the contact lenses. Make sure you observe the specified wearing time, cleaning instructions and expiry date to ensure that your lenses don't irritate your eyes. And it's best to also check the oxygen permeability of the contact lenses before buying them, as among other factors this is decisive for the wearing time. This is indicated by the Dk value (relative dielectric constant). This is influenced by the material and to some extent also by the temperature of a contact lens. Please ask your optician for advice.
Permanent contact lenses have been developed for people who are allergic to contact lens solutions. Clarify with your optician if these are suitable for you – after all, you will wear them non-stop for 30 days, also at night. There isn't even any need to remove them intermittently for cleaning and disinfection.
If your eyes show any signs of inflammation or irritation or if you experience pain, take your contacts out and use your glasses. Do the same if you have a high temperature or a bad cold. On recovery from an illness, it is important to ask your doctor whether you can continue to wear the same contact lenses or if you should discard them just to be on the safe side. This is particularly important for monthlies or 6 month replacement.
4. Dry eyes or eyestrain when wearing contacts
There's no denying that contact lenses offer additional freedom and independence, but they do cause one problem in many wearers: dry eyes. Eyedrops may help here. But not all eyedrops are suitable. Ask your optician or ophthalmologist which eye drops are best suited for use with your contact lenses and how often you should apply them and in what dosage. Switching to your glasses for short periods of time may also bring relief. In the evening after a hard day's work in the office, for example: place your contact lenses with the disinfecting solution in the case and put on your glasses instead.
5. Team play: not glasses OR contacts, but glasses AND contacts
Our studies at ZEISS have shown that more and more people also love their glasses and often have various styles featuring their prescription. Did you know that there are ZEISS spectacle lenses which have been specially developed to refresh the eyes after wearing contact lenses? ZEISS EnergizeMe Spectacle Lenses provide contact lens wearers with something more than a typical pair of glasses. Their innovative design has been specially optimised for the visual behaviour of contact lens wearers and for vision in the digital world.
6. The opposite also applies: sport/swimming/holidays – dailies are also an interesting alternative for spectacle wearers in certain situations
If needed, spectacle wearers can also switch to dailies without difficulty – when on holiday or playing sports, for example. Here, once again, opticians will be pleased to assist first-time or occasional contact lens wearers in choosing the right contact lens.
Contact lens wearers also need sunglasses.
Make sure that you choose a contact lens with an integrated UV filter to guarantee that your cornea and the inside of your eyes are protected against harmful UV rays. And even then contact lens wearers should be careful when it comes to UV light: contact lenses do not offer total protection against UV radiation because they only cover a portion of the eye. Sunglasses are therefore a must also for contact lens wearers.
7. Coloured contacts for special occasions
Coloured contacts are a real hit - with or without a prescription power. Would you like to attract attention with your piercing blue eyes at a special event, or steal the show at a dinner party with your seductively green eyes that perfectly match your head-turning evening dress? Or put the finishing touch to your Halloween disguise with sinister cat's eyes? It's all possible with contact lenses. Be bold - try them for yourself! Eyes sometimes say more than a thousand words. The same care has to be taken with coloured as with clear contact lenses: thorough cleaning with suitable cleaning agents is vital to ensure healthy eyes.
8. Contact lenses overnight – what do the experts say?
There are nights that simply weren't meant for sleeping! And that's when we tend to forget that we are still wearing our contacts. Where on earth are we supposed to put them during a long night at a party? Even in situations like these, please try to think of your eyes and the next day. On days – or rather nights –like these, the best option is to use dailies. And, of course, they require the same thorough washing of your hands to prevent infection. However, dirt and loss are not major issues with dailies. They are simply disposed of after wear and do not have to be disinfected. Afterwards, fashionable glasses with attractively thin lenses can be real eye-catchers. It's the mix between glasses and contacts that does it!
9. Modern vision in the digital world – what has changed?
Doing a quick check for emails or WhatsApp messages, viewing a video on YouTube, talking digitally with a friend or reading a book on your tablet. Digital devices such as smartphones, ereaders, etc. are now just as much part of our everyday lives as a handbag, newspaper or car keys. However, this is challenging for our eyes. These digital devices are viewed at closer distances, closer than the distance we associate with reading books, and our eyes have to switch between near and far much more frequently than in the past. The modern vision required in the digital age demands the utmost from our eyes. And the eyes of contact lens wearers are no exception. Glasses may well offer the perfect relaxation! Using a smartphone, tablet or a similar digital device for an extended period of time can result in stressed or overly tired eyes. Specially designed to meet the needs of contact lens wearers, ZEISS EnergizeMe Spectacle Lenses for contact lens wearers feature a special technology which can make it easier to read books and all kinds of digital devices, making them an excellent way to prevent digital eye strain.
10. Progressive contact lenses – more than one power in the lens
Presbyopia is a condition that affects almost all of us as we get older. We need progressive lenses which offer support near, far and everywhere in-between. Here contact lenses, in this case progressive or multifocal contact lenses, may also be a good solution. Various versions are available. The simplest solution is by combining contact lenses for distance vision with reading glasses. Or by using the monovision method in which one eye is corrected by a contact lens for near vision and the other eye for far. Habit and the brain do the rest. However, your three-dimensional vision may suffer slightly, and the difference between vision with your right and left eyes must not be too great.
The 'simultaneous system' is based on contact lenses which combine the individual powers for near and distance vision in a single lens on an alternating basis. Different designs are used. The two powers for near and far are always arranged in circular rings on the progressive contact lens. There are designs where the distance range is in the middle and the near zone is outside. There are even lenses with a ring for the transitional zone in-between or with powers that alternate ring by ring. Both powers are perceived at the same time. Our brain gets used to seeing the "right" image up close and far away.
Important to know: try it out and seek the advice of a specialist. Not everyone can adapt to this type of lens.