Eye Q: Contact Lenses

Are contact lenses safe?


Contact lenses have been used widely for more than 40 years and are generally very safe. Careful maintenance of the lenses by cleaning, proper storage and avoiding overwear is paramount in reducing complications. Either soft or rigid lenses can be safe, but people who wear rigid gas permeable lenses are less likely to develop infections relating to lens wear.


What contact lens services are available at UW Health?


We have contact lens specialists who are able to help the easy-to-fit patient and the most difficult of fits. Most patients are fit with a monthly disposable contact lens. Other options available include daily disposables, two-week disposables and conventional lenses that are replaced every six to 12 months. Adults and children who are active in athletics usually do best in a soft contact lens. We also perform more difficult fits, which include Rigid Gas Permeable lenses, Keratoconus fits, highly astigmatic fits and post-operative fits. Post-operative fits include those who have undergone a refractive surgery and still need correction or other post-operative cornea procedures.


What options are available for contact lens use?


Contact lenses have been used widely for more than 40 years. The most common lens type is a soft contact lens that offers excellent vision, ease of use and significant comfort to most patients. A rigid type of lens is the next-most common form of contact lens. This lens affords excellent vision, less comfort than a soft lens and is less likely to be found in someone who develops an infection from contact lens wear. Contact lenses of either type are available to correct nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism. Additionally, contact lenses with a bifocal in them are available. Contact lens wear is generally very safe. Careful maintenance of the lenses by cleaning, proper storage, and avoiding over wear is paramount in reducing complications.


Should I try bifocal contact lenses?


Bifocal contact lenses have improved greatly in recent years. Soft bifocal contact lenses are best fit on those patients with little to no astigmatism. These lenses usually are monthly disposable lenses. Although most patients can read normal size print, there are limitations. Extremely small print, such as that used on medicine labels, still may require magnifying glasses. Good lighting is important for best vision so reading in a dimly lit restaurant also may require the patient use readers over the contacts. Rigid Gas Permeable bifocal lenses also are a good choice for those already wearing an RGP lens. These lenses have precision optics and usually produce very good vision.