Policies and Recommendations
Contact lenses continue to grow in popularity, thanks to lengthened wearing times and improved fit, design and materials. If you like the way you look without glasses or are just tired of wearing them, contacts may be a good option to consider.
You will find some real benefits to wearing contacts. Since they move with your eyes, you always look through the centers of the lenses where vision is best. If you are very nearsighted or farsighted, objects will appear more normal in size with contacts than with glasses. Contacts don't fog in cold or humid weather, and they are a great convenience for active sports.
Contacts do have some drawbacks, however, and to wear them successfully you must be motivated enough to overcome the slight discomfort in adjusting to them and the nuisance of daily care, scrupulous cleanliness and regular examinations. Then, if the idea of having something in your eye doesn't bother you and you are otherwise a good candidate, your chances for success are very good.
Contact lenses are small plastic saucers that contain your visual correction on the front surface, while the back surface is specially fitted to the size and shape of your cornea (the eye's main focusing surface). They float over the cornea on a layer of tears, held in position by surface tension unless they are forcibly slid off, picked off or knocked loose. Don't worry: a lens cannot ever get "lost" behind the eye.
When properly fit and cared for, contact lenses are generally safe. As with any foreign material on the surface of the eye, however, there is always the risk of a scratch or and eye infection, or an abrasion if the lenses are worn too long. More serious problems are also possible. But if you carefully follow all instructions as to proper lens disinfection and stay alert to possible symptoms, just about any problem can be prevented or successfully treated.
No single type of lens is best for everyone. Each has advantages and disadvantages, and the right one for you will depend on your lifestyle and type of eye problem, as well as the eye itself.
Hard lenses give the sharpest vision but have some characteristics that make this older style of contact lens uncomfortable to wear; they may be poorly tolerated by many eyes. A major drawback is that adequate oxygen (needed by the cornea) cannot pass through them. An improved hard (rigid) lens made of porous materials is called "rigid gas permeable" (RGP). These lenses provide excellent vision, though they are generally not as immediately comfortable as soft lenses.
Soft lenses are comfortable to wear, easy to get used to, and permit passage of some oxygen through them. They are a good choice for sports because they are not easily dislodged, and dust cannot get under the lens to irritate they eye. However, vision with them is sometimes less sharp, and astigmatism (an irregular shape of the front of the eyeball) cannot be corrected. (A type of soft lens called "toric" can correct for small amounts of astigmatism.) Soft lenses are fragile and can tear easily or become worn from handling. Because the lenses are moist and soft, bacteria and other impurities can adhere to the surface, making it necessary to disinfect them daily.
Extended-wear lenses are soft lenses that allow more oxygen through them than daily-wear soft lenses, so you can sleep in them. But they have more serious potential problems, such as infections of the cornea. Disposable extended-wear lenses, because they are used for only a week or so, may have less risk of infection.
You will have a thorough eye examination. Your corneas will be carefully examined under high magnification to determine if you have any conditions that might make the wearing of contacts inappropriate or hazardous, and your eyelids will be examined for degree of tightness and the presence of infection. Without touching the eye, the corneal curvature will be measured with an instrument called a keratometer. A series or trial lenses may also be used in determining the best size and fit, before your custom-made lenses are ordered.
In general, hard lenses are least expensive, last the longest and cost the least to maintain. Gas permeables, which are more widely used today, are almost as durable and cost only sightly more. Soft lenses cost about the same but require more maintenance and do not last as long. Extended-wear soft lenses are more expensive and their life is even shorter. The most expensive lenses are disposable "throw-aways," but there is no maintenance cost. We will be happy to discuss all these lenses and their specific costs with you.
Monovision is a way for people who are in their forties or older, to see both distance and near without bifocals or reading glasses. As a person approaches age 45, the natural lens of the eye cannot focus well enough at near to make vision clear. This condition is called presbyopia. People who are nearsighted can take off their glasses to see at near. However, those who are farsighted or have no distance correction must wear reading glasses or bifocals to see at near. For those who would prefer not to wear reading glasses or bifocals due to presbyopia, monovision is an option.
Monovision is achieved by correcting one eye for distance vision and one eye for near vision. Both eyes can still work together but one eye does most of the seeing for distance and the other for near. This is particularly helpful for those who have jobs or tasks where they need to shift their vision between distance and near.
Monovision can be obtained by wearing contact lenses or through laser vision correction (LASIK). With contact lenses, one eye wears the distance corrective lens and the other eye wears the near corrective lens. With LASIK, one eye is corrected for distance and the other for near. Most patients readily adapt to this and are satisfied with the vision. There are very few disadvantages, but it may decrease depth perception and night driving vision. We recommend a trial of monovision in our clinic using soft contact lenses and for those considering LASIK.
If you are 45 or older and would like to try monovision, schedule an appointment for an evaluation and trial.
- Contact lens exams and evaluations and the contact lenses themselves are not a covered benefit of most health and medical insurance plans. If you know your insurance or vision plan is an exception to this, please verify the information with our receptionist before being examined by the doctor.
- There is a separate fee for contact lens evaluations ranging from $30.00 to $60.00 depending on the time required and complexity of the exam.
- Patients who have not previously worn contact lenses will need an instruction in order to begin wearing them. This normally includes a diagnostic pair of lenses, a starter kit of solutions and a follow-up visit to insure the correct fit and prescription of your lenses. These services will be a one time fee of $40.00.
- We require payment for contact lenses and supplies at the time of ordering or dispensing. Direct mail ordering of contact lenses to your home can be done over the phone with any credit card payment or mailed in check.
- We hope you will purchase your lenses at Cottonwood Eye & Laser Clinic to insure you have the correct power and type. Our prices are very competitive, and this will help us maintain an accurate and up to date record or your contact lens history.
- It is required to have an annual contact lens exam to obtain contact lenses. This exam helps to safeguard your eye health and insure there is no eye irritation or compromised eye health from ill fitting lenses or other associated problems. Patients wearing contact lenses are at greater risk of infection and serious sight threatening conditions. Contact lenses are a medical device and cannot be dispensed without a current prescription which is good for one year.
- At the first sign of any eye irritation, contact lenses should be removed until the irritation is resolved. It is strongly recommended that each patient have a pair of glasses as a back up to contacts.
- There is a partial credit offered for hard or gas permeable lenses returned within the first month of dispensing. If you have unopened boxes or vials of other contacts purchased from our clinic, we will be glad to exchange them within 1 month if necessary. This office cannot be responsible for contact lenses dispensed or fitted elsewhere.