What are the best contact lenses? This is a common question from glasses and contact lens wearers alike, and often arises after they have been wearing their lenses for a couple of years.
As issues such as dry eyes and other comfort problems arise, their satisfaction with their lenses can rapidly diminish and the search for the best lens begins…
Why are my lenses not as comfortable anymore?
Discomfort is the leading cause of failure in contact lenses. By the time they reach the age of 30, almost 40% of spectacle wearers wear contact lenses at least part time. But by the time they reach the age of 45 this has dropped to around 2%. Why is this?
Reasons for discomfort in contact lenses are often associated with dryness. Even an eye that has never suffered from dryness in the past can become dry once a contact lens is worn for 12-16 hours a day. Lens materials act like sponges, sucking up all the available moisture from your eyes.
Poor lens fit also accounts for a significant proportion of failures. A third important reason is reaction to the preservatives in cleaning solutions.
Best contact lens choices for 2017
So what are the best contact lenses to avoid these disturbing statistics? Over the years, we have transferred hundreds of lens wearers from existing lens designs to alternatives, offering better comfort, safety and vision. Here are our favourite three lens types:
1. Daily disposables
If you are still wearing 2-weekly or monthly disposable lenses, it is worth thinking seriously about changing to daily disposable lenses.
These lenses have several advantages over their predecessors in terms of comfort and hygiene. Not only are they thinner (and therefore more comfortable), but they are disposed of every day. This eliminates the use of potentially toxic cleaning solutions that can play havoc with sensitive eyes. It also eliminates contact lens cases from your life and these are the breeding ground for the bacteria and other microbes that can cause sight-threatening corneal infections.
Daily disposables are now available in a wide range of designs, including multifocals and torics (for correcting astigmatism). They also come in modern materials that cause less dehydration of the eye than older materials.
Lenses such as Johnson and Johnson’s Acuvue Oasys, Alcon’s Total 1 Day, Coopervision’s Proclear 1 Day and Bausch and Lomb’s Biotrue 1 Day, all use advanced technology to add moisture back to your eyes throughout the day.
These lenses all use slightly different material technology to provide improved comfort and hydration, so it stands to reason that if you don’t achieve good comfort in one material, it is definitely worth trying another.
2. Custom soft
One size, as we are well aware, does not fit all. It is often the people with the rarer spectacle corrections, such as very short-sighted or long-sighted patients, who are outside the available range and miss out on daily disposable lenses. In this case, having a custom contact lens fitted to your exact requirements is the answer. These lenses are usually replaced annually.
To avoid toxicity issues with the associated cleaning solutions, we always recommend a preservative-free solution system. All-in-one cleaning systems will always contain toxic ingredients, not matter what the marketing claims. Hydrogen peroxide solutions (such as AOSept) kill harmful microbes before breaking down to harmless and non-toxic water and oxygen.
One of the biggest culprits behind serious eye infections is the contact lens case. Bacteria love them! Biofilms can become established on cases and are difficult to remove. The answer? Change your case every month and throw the old cases away. Cleaning systems like AOSept provide a fresh case with each bottle.
3. Scleral / mini sclerals
For more complicated or irregular eyes, including dry eyes, scleral or miniscleral lenses are the ultimate solution. These lenses vault right over the sensitive or irregular cornea and capture a pool of tears that bathes your cornea throughout your lens wear. These lenses can be a godsend for people who have struggled with vision or comfort for years.
For anyone considering contact lenses, it is always best to see a contact lens specialist who has the potential to fit all lens types rather than boxing you in to one particular type of lens.
Steer clear of…
An international survey conducted in 39 countries over 4 years (2006-2010) clearly showed that the incidence of severe contact-lens related corneal infections is 5 to 20 times more likely with overnight wear (also called extended wear) compared to daily wear soft or RGP lenses.
The risk is still low, at 20 cases per 10,000 patients but do you really need to sleep in your lenses? You are many times more likely to get a serious eye infection wearing these lenses compared to soft lenses (whether daily wear or custom fit).