When I was in middle school, contact lenses were the most magical thing to happen to my entire meager existence — more life-changing than the Internet, the RAZR flip phone, the iPod, and Bill Nye the Science Guy. I was an awkward kid with an awkward haircut, crooked teeth, and nerdy glasses with impossibly thin wire frames. Eventually my hair grew out, and I got braces in high school. But taking care of my eyesight has been a lifelong battle. The tumultuous struggle of my blurry vision is obvious if you look into those dead eyes hiding beneath my very stylish fourth grade glasses.
Glasses can be your best accessory and your worst enemy. A colorful and glittery frame can bring out the best in an outfit or your makeup, but glasses can be frustrating when you’re trying to be physically active or if you simply feel insecure about the way you lookin glasses. This is where contact lenses come in.
I have been wearing contact lenses for ten years although I still keep a pair of glasses around when I want to spice up my look or just want to give my eyes a chance to breathe. Over the past ten years, I’ve learned a lot about contact lenses: brands, types, and overall lens care. Contact lenses are an amazing change, but they are serious business. All I can do is share all the contact lenses tips from one girl with ugly glasses and terrible, terrible vision.
Now, before committing to contact lenses, you need to make sure you’ve thought through all the considerations. We’ve listed 4 top things to think through and keep in mind when considering contact lenses over glasses.
Once you accept these rules, you need to next think about your personal needs. Here are the four factors I’ve had to consider in making my contact lens decisions (and I have to do this at every single check up):
1. I am a very lazy and forgetful person.
I’m ashamed to admit that there have been times where I’ve legitimately forgot or been too lazy to take out my contacts, and I’m overall not so good at taking medication on time and remembering appointments. If this fits you, you’ll want to consider lenses that are most short-term like a daily lens (a lens that is intended to be discarded after a day’s use). This means that instead of reminding yourself to put your lenses in contact solution, you can just throw them away and switch to your glasses. I’ve personally used the ACUVUE brand, but I’d recommend looking through this selection of daily lenses, which is broken down by brand, manufacturer, and type: http://www.1800contacts.com/lenses/daily-disposables. The ultimate best solution is to switch to night lenses. If you are guilty of sleeping with your lenses in, it’s best to be safe with a lens that’s intended to be worn day and night. Look into the AIR OPTIX Night & Day lens.
2. I have dry eye.
This has nothing to do with how much or little I cry because that’s an entirely different conversation. My eyes have a tendency to dry out easily. This can be best addressed with a lens designed to provide extra moisture (consider the 1-Day ACUVUE Moist lens). Regardless of lens, you can also help out your dry eyes with eye drops. However, not all eye drops are suit
ed to interact with your contact lenses. My optometrist recommended Blink Gel Tears, which are harmlessly absorbed into my lenses and provide immediate comfort. You can get yours here: Blink Gel Tears Lubricating Eye Drops
3. I have astigmatism.
I can’t say this enough: your eye examinations will help you best! An astigmatism is a refractive error, and not a disease or health complication that you need to worry about (read about astigmatism in detail here). You don’t necessarily need a lens that corrects for astigmatism in the eye that is affected by it, but a lens intended to correct for astigmatism does improve the quality of the vision you’ll receive. Consider the ACUVUE OASYS lens for astigmatism or AIR OPTIX FOR ASTIGMATISM lens. Your optometrist will consider multiple brands that best fit your needs, but it’s important to educate yourself concerning your options.
4. My eyes do not like me very much.
One time in high school, I came home with bright red eyes and a constant flow of tears from the severe pain I felt from blinking or looking at any source of light. My mother dismissed it as pink eye, but it turned out to be an ulcer in my cornea — don’t worry, I still have my eye, but I did have to use prescribed eye drops every ten minutes for quite a bit of time. And unfortunately this happened again a few years later. This most likely came from 1) a predisposition to being easily infected and 2) my lazy habits described earlier. During this bout of infection, I used a daily lens to prevent any further infection, but since I’ve become better at being proactive and healthy, I have switched to two-week lenses. This did mean I had to take extra care of my lenses. My doctor recommended the solution Alcon Clear Care. It has a hydrogen peroxide formula (which means that it takes six hours for your lenses to be cleaned — if you put them in back into your eyes too soon, it will hurt horribly. I say this from experience.) and a special case that ensures the best cleansing. So if you choose the two week over the daily, stick to deep-cleaning solutions.
These are all decisions I made with my doctor which means that I took her recommendations but also asserted what I wanted and needed. Remember that you always have a say in your contact lens prescription! Your doctor will give you trial lenses, so you don’t need to worry about getting tied down to one lens brand or type. Ultimately, take into account where you’re at right now. What’s the fashion look you’re going for? Are you too lazy and scatterbrained to remember to take care of your contacts every night? Do your eyes get dry easily? How does traveling (whether for leisure or business) impact your limits in packing and getting enough sleep to let your eyes take a break after lens wear? Answer these questions for yourself and bring those answers with you to your next (annual!) optometrist appointment. Your needs will inevitably change over time, so don’t be surprised if you make several lens changes over the course of your lens usage. And always, always do what’s best for you while also following all of your doctor’s rules, no matter how boring and strict may be. Because without healthy eyes, how are you going keep binge watching Orange Is the New Black?
I hope my years of bad eye experience, from those ugly glasses to now, can help you navigate the wild world of contact lenses. Feel free to subscribe, comment, and please, please go make an appointment with your optometrist!
Author: Katherine Bleth
Katherine is from Atlanta but currently lives in the much colder city of Minneapolis. After graduating from the University of Minnesota, Katherine spends her time watching movies, obsessing over when George R.R. Martin will release his next book, organizing her lipstick collection, and pretending she knows what she’s doing.