Contact Lenses - Types and Care

The use of contact lenses has gained much popularity over the past two decades. It is estimated that currently more than 130 million people worldwide use them frequently.

Contact lens
Contact lens

Contact lenses have some advantages with regard to glasses, such as the comfort of practicing sports, a greater field of vision and the fact that they are practically imperceptible, which aesthetically turns out to be convenient.

Contact lenses have three basic indications:
  • Visual correction of degree, either by myopia, farsightedness, astigmatism or presbyopia.
  • Cosmetic, as in the case of colored contact lenses.
  • Therapeutic, for correction of some eye diseases like keratoconus or after surgeries.

The cosmetic use of lenses has become very popular. Some people wear colored lenses to change the color of their eyes. Others wear stylized lenses to alter the shape of the eyes, which has been very common in movies and parties. In the US, during the Halloween season, people often wear these types of lenses along with their costumes.

Contact lenses are often divided into gelatinous and rigid.

Types of contact lens

a) Gelatinous contact lenses

They are the most comfortable and easy-to-fit contact lenses, so they are the most sold and used.

Between the gelatinous lenses there are several different brands, made up of several different materials. Each has its own rate of corneal oxygenation and accumulation of debris. Depending on these characteristics, the usage time can vary greatly:
  • Contact lenses for one day: should be discarded daily. They are ideal for people who wear lenses only sporadically or who have sensitivity to disinfectant solutions, since this type of lens does not require its use.
  • Contact lenses for two weeks: can be used for up to 15 days. It is indicated to remove them to sleep, although some of these can be used for up to six uninterrupted days.
  • Contact lenses for one month: they should be worn during the day and taken out at night, however, some brands are approved for uninterrupted use for 30 days.

The choice of which type of contact lens is most appropriate is individual and should be done in conjunction with your ophthalmologist.

b) Gas permeable rigid contact lenses

Contrary to many people's beliefs, current rigid contact lenses are less harmful to the eyes. However, they are more cumbersome and require more time to adapt.
Currently less than 10% of the lenses sold are of the rigid type.


The use of contact lenses is not an innocuous procedure. Although very safe, serious eye problems can arise, including infections and irreversible damage to vision if proper precautions are not taken. As modern as current contact lenses are, they all cause some degree of obstruction to corneal oxygenation and can lead to the destruction of your cells if used incorrectly.

Remember that for our body contact lenses do not cease to be a foreign body in your eyes for several hours for days, several days a week. If they are not well cared for, they accumulate excess debris and protein, and can even become infected with fungi, bacteria or amoebae.

Handling contact lenses without proper hygiene may cause eye infections. Therefore, one should never wear glasses without the advice of an ophthalmologist.

Caring for contact lens

  • Keep your hands clean every time you get your contact lenses. Wash them with mild soap, preferably.
  • When you dry your hands after washing, make sure there are no lint-free towels on your fingers.
  • Keep your nails well cut to avoid dirt and eye damage when removing and putting on contact lenses.
  • Use lens cleaning solutions according to the advice of your ophthalmologist. Different types of lenses require different hygienic care.
  • Before placing the lenses always make sure that there is no visible debris or damage.
  • Keep your lens case always clean. Wash it once a week with warm water and rub it with a clean toothbrush. No need to use soap.
  • Change your kit every six months, at least.
  • Always place the lenses before applying makeup to avoid contamination.
  • Whenever possible, avoid sleeping with your lenses, even when authorized. During sleep they have no use and you still give a rest to the eyes.
  • If signs of infection or irritation develop, remove the lenses and consult your ophthalmologist.
  • Even though everything is OK, an annual consultation with the ophthalmologist is always welcome.

What to NEVER do about your contact lenses

  • NEVER use saliva to clean your lenses. Our mouth is the regions of the body with the highest concentration of bacteria.
  • NEVER wash your lenses with water from the sink or any product that has not been explicitly indicated by the ophthalmologist. The use of running tap water is associated with an increased risk of amoeba contamination.
  • NEVER exchange lenses with friends. The lenses are personal and non-transferable.
  • NEVER use the lenses for longer than indicated.
  • NEVER sleep with your lenses if you are not authorized to do so. Not all lenses can be worn during sleep.
  • NEVER reuse cleaning solutions. Once used, it should be discarded from the case.

Contact lenses and eye drops

There are basically two types of eye drops, those with medicines and those with only lubricants. Any eye drops that contain medication SHOULD NOT be used on contact lenses as they may damage the lenses. If the use of eye drops with medication is necessary, the lens should be removed, the eye drops applied, and it is only after twenty minutes that the contact lenses can be placed again.

Among eye drops that are just lubricants and can be used with contact lenses, we quote:
  • Lacrifilm
  • Systane
  • Fresh Tears
  • Refresh
  • Genteal
  • Ecofilm

Contact lens discomforts

Contact lenses should go unnoticed by the patient. If the lens is causing red eye, blurred vision or pain, discontinue use and seek medical attention. You may be developing a corneal ulcer.

A lens that causes burning in the eyes immediately after it is placed may be dirty or with residues of cleaning products, be they lens-like liquids or even traces of soap on the fingers.

If you put the contact lens on and you notice your presence with a foreign body sensation in your eyes, a personalized prescription is probably needed. The lenses are made with standard sizes and curvatures, which may not be the most appropriate for you.

If your eyes scratch heavily with lenses, this can be allergy to some component of the contact lens or cleaning products.

Another common complaint is the nuisance that comes at the end of the day. This may be due to low oxygenation of the cornea after several hours with the contact lenses. Often changing the lens type helps.

The fact is that the lenses should always be comfortable. If you feel discomfort, do not force use. Seek out your ophthalmologist and explain the nuisance type that is occurring.

Contact lenses for tired eyes

Patients with presbyopia, the famous tired sight that appears over the years, may also continue to wear contact lenses. However, some adaptations need to be made. The simplest is to continue to wear the lenses away and use glasses to read closely.

Who does not want to wear glasses has 3 options:
  • Use a contact lens close in one eye and another in the other eye. It may seem strange, but this option works very well. This method is called monovision.
  • Wear bifocal contact lenses. However, what in theory would be the ideal solution, in practice shows an option in which several patients do not adapt. Most would rather prefer to use the monovision method described above.
  • Use a lens away in one eye and a bifocal lens in the other eye.

General keywords

User discussion

Site indexMedicines onlineInteresting to readCommentaries © 2012