Help & Advice
Can I wear contact lenses?
Pretty much everyone can be fitted with contact lenses. Contact lenses have come along way with advances in materials, thicknesses and for their different purposes. Which means wearing lenses is now more safer, easier and convenient than ever before.
As a contact lens wearer should I seek out a Medical Optometrist?
As Medical (Independent Optometrists), we would recommend all contact lens patients should source a Medical Optometrist for their clinical care. Contact lenses constitute a medical device and as such should include a mandatory level of medical care. Until prescribing for optometrists became possible in 2009 all optometrists were forced to refer many contact lens related complications to an eye hospital. This incurs enormous inconvenience and cost in time for the patient. Further their GP surgery will be charged by the hospital for the clinical service; an unnecessary community cost as these situations should be dealt with by the optometrist chosen by the patient to manage their ocular care!
Historically optometrists were allowed to fit contact lenses but were not allowed the medical tools to intervene in the rare, but significant, instances of infection. This is counterintuitive and potentially puts patients at risk. Non-IP optometrists have very few avenues; under treatment carries significant risk, conversely an unnecessary referral wastes patient time and hospital resources. IP optometrists treat immediately with licensed drugs specific for the presentation.
Contact lens wearers should value the clinical service of IP optometrists above the commodity. Fees are split so patients can identified the contact lens cost and the professional fees. In this way patients can choose and compare prices without service and commodity costs being amalgamated and unclear.
I am happy my eye health is excellent so what benefit is a Medical Optometrist to me? Spectacle Prescriptions: Simply a Bunch of Numbers?
TIME, TIME, TIME Is the easy answer.
A clinical service does not simply imply treating eye disease. Many optometrists, to maximise throughput and cash flow, do quite fast sight tests. This will certainly produce a spectacle prescription.
However, a spectacle prescription is simply the end product of a measurement process; a technician's job. They are, simply, a bunch of numbers. The numbers reveal nothing about how the individual lives, how they work, what they enjoy or indeed their fears. A patient's description of their needs usually reflects their visual frustrations, an optometrist talks in terms of measurements. The two vocabularies do not always correlate. A good clinician, as opposed to a technician, will interpret a patient's comments about their visual problems and interpret. As simple as it sounds a person always striving to clean their glasses or hunt for the sweet spot is probably telling the clinician, in non-clinical terms, they have an early cataract. Time is required to understand these patient centred needs before the numbers can be interpreted and converted to an optical correction or medical intervention. If simple optical correction is the answer, what will best suit the patient's lifestyle: Contact lenses, Varifocals spectacles, Degressionals, laser surgery are all options. If there was one correct answer technicians could be quite prescriptive. Clinicians, however, must interpret an individual's needs and, out of courtesy, discuss all options.
My optician has a lot of equipment, surely they can do everything?
This may well be the case. However, historically opticians were simply screeners. They detected abnormalities and reported them without interpretation. This ensured many abnormalities, not warranting treatment, were referred unnecessarily.
Anyone can buy expensive equipment. The skill is in interpreting the results. This is where the clinical value lies.
The sad fact is many opticians remain screeners, they have not advanced their knowledge base and do not necessarily interpret the results. Yet, to differentiate their businesses, still geared around spectacle sales, many invest in excellent diagnostic equipment. However to be of benefit to a struggling NHS referral should be based on an intent-to-treat basis. This cannot always be guaranteed and 'screeners' may have lots of technology but will not necessarily be of great value to the NHS.
My optician told me I have astigmatism. Can I wear contact lenses?
Yes. These days, most prescriptions - even those with astigmatism - can be corrected with contact lenses. Also known as 'toric' lenses, these specially designed contact lenses are available inmany different styles such as multifocal, soft or rigid.
I usually use varifocal spectacles. Can I wear contact lenses?
Yes. Sometimes these lenses are described as bifocal or varifocal contact lenses. These terms are used simply to describe the fact they allow you to see both at distance and near. They do not work the way spectacle bifocal or varifocal lenses work. They are certainly becoming more popular than the monovision technique because you have both eyes doing the same thing at the same time. Available as Bespoke lenses, monthly, fortnightly and daily disposables we can invariably fit these to your lifestyle needs.
I have two pairs of glasses, one for reading and one for distance. Can I wear contact lenses?
Yes. For the same reasons as above.
What solution should I use for my lenses?
It is best to use the solution which has been recommended to you by your contact lens practitioner as contact lenses may benefit better to some solutions compared to others due to their materials and on the specified contact lens. Also, not all solutions are the same as some can vary in ingredients therefore may not be as effective as desired with the lenses you are prescribed with.
Does this mean I can't store my lenses in water?
Yes. Contact lenses should never be stored, cleaned or come in any contact with water. This includes when applying the lens, your hands should be properly dry.
Can I wear contact lenses occasionally?
Yes. If you want to use contact lenses for sports for example, you can be fitted with a contact lens which will prove more effective with activities, as they benefit from not being affected from rain, fog or reflections from the sun. Contact lenses no longer need to be an all or nothing commodity. Glasses are very popular and many people want contacts as an addition rather than a replacement for spectacles. Many people find spectacles are more convenient in certain situations, while contact lenses are more suitable for other activities.
Can I wear my daily lens for more than one day?
No. Daily lenses have different properties to extended wear lenses and they are not intended to be used more than once and should be disposed of after its single use.
Can I sleep in my contact lenses?
Only certain lenses are approved to be worn overnight. This should be discussed with your contact lens practitioner as to whether you can. Sleeping in contact lenses can increase the risk of infections.