How to store your contact lenses for optimal durability
Contact lenses are worn directly on the ocular surface and as such care and precision must be taken when inserting, removing, and caring for them. As a Licensed Optician who teaches the insertion, removal, and care of contact lenses one of the most common reactions I see in my day is surprise. With soft contact lenses, the most common lens I fit, surprise over the flexibility of the lens and its general thinness. Initially most patients are concerned about ripping or tearing the apparently soft plastic and are usually pleasantly surprised when they find that the lens is far more durable than anticipated. That’s not to say the lens can’t be ripped or torn, sharp nails and general mishandling can cause the lens to tear or pieces to be torn from the lens. These tears or imperfections render the contact lens useless as the surface is no longer smooth and can now cause discomfort and abrasions to the ocular surface. Additionally, even with a perfect and fully intact soft contact lens it is recommended that all aspects of the insertion and removal process occur on the relatively flat sclera or white of the eye instead of the cornea – the structure above the coloured part of the eye. This is done to ensure the safety of the ocular structures and generally risk of harm. A rigid lens has a firmer structure and due to its nature is inserted directly onto the cornea, though again great care is taught as part of the insertion and removal process. With either lens design, the optician’s focus is to ensure safety and that no harm is done to the eye itself.
As to which lens is best, well that depends on the patient’s needs. Each lens has distinct pro’s and con’s that must be weighed by the patient and the fitter. Rigid lenses offer the best optics available in the widest ranges, thanks in part to their rigid structure and last the longest with regular maintenance; however, they are often found to be uncomfortable by many patients taking a relatively long desensitization period and can relatively easily be dislodged and lost from the eye itself. By contrast, the daily disposable soft contact lens is incredibly comfortable in the eye, maintains its placement well; but, is not available in as many prescription options, is significantly more prone to tearing, is harder to work with, and is only designed for one day use. Between these two extremes are a range of soft contact lenses that vary in lifespan, thickness, comfort, and care. Finding the right contact lenses is a conversation with your Licensed Optician, who will balance the pro’s and con’s to determine the best lens for your needs.
In conclusion, contact lenses are medical devices that allow you to see better. They are convenient in many situations and when treated properly can offer problem free vision for years. It is always recommended to store your contact lenses as hygienically as possible, follow any instructions provided by your Licensed Optician, and follow the follow-up schedule provided. Your optician is there for you, the follow-up schedule they provide is designed to allow them to care for your ocular health and catch things before they become significant concerns. Guard your most precious sense and talk to your Licensed Optician about all your eye care needs.
R.O Freelance Optician and Trainer