Frequently Asked Questions
An eye exam
What would your optometrist be looking for during an eye exam?
Your eyes reveal more about your health than just good or poor visual acuity. Your eyes show your optometrist the early signs of diseases, which may affect your vision.
What about other diseases in the body, can these be detected through an eye exam?
No other organ of your body can so easily reveal the condition of your veins and arteries as your eyes, and since many metabolic irregularities affect your blood vessels, your eyes can be the key for early diagnosis for those diseases.
I can see why regular eye checks are so important, even if you don’t experience any problems with your vision. What are the signs an optometrist will look for during an eye exam?
The reason for a headache is not always related to external factors like being sensitive to the change of the weather. Severe diseases may cause headaches especially in the area of your eyes and forehead. The range of diseases could be very wide from inflammation of the sinuses, an undiscovered tumour or glaucoma. This puts an emphasis on the importance and treatment of headaches. Your optometrist will look for those signs during a regular eye check.
Are there any other medical problems which could be diagnosed during an eye exam?
Yes, there are many other medical problems such as Hypertension which can be detected through an eye exam.
How does the optometrist recognize high blood pressure?
One of the very first signs which could indicate high blood pressure are irregular and narrow blood vessels. That’s why an eye exam goes beyond the examination of your vision problems, it is also a prevention check for hypertension.
What about if you already suffer from high blood pressure. Are there other risks associated with high blood pressure which your optometrist could pick up?
If you suffer from high blood pressure you must be sure that your treatment is covering all blood pressure peaks throughout the day. The retina is providing important information. It allows the optometrist to tell you whether you should be carefully monitoring your health status with regards to the risk of a stroke. Typical narrow retinal vessels in a special shape can be discovered during an eye exam and therefore by giving you the correct advise, your optometrist can reduce the risk of a stroke.
It would really seem that many of the health issues many people suffer from today can be picked up by an eye exam.
Yes, you sometimes feel hot and thirsty, your vision fails temporarily and you loose or gain weight – something must be wrong. The retina may tell your optometrist the story. Small circular areas bleeding on the retina or deposits so called “soft cotton wool” deposits may be a sign of diabetes. A changing vision due to changes in blood sugar level during the day may be another sign for diabetes. A visit to an optometrist will give you clarity.
What other signs would an optometrist look for as an indication of disease?
If you suffer from high blood pressure you must be sure that your treatment is covering all blood pressure peaks throughout the day. The retina is providing important information. It allows the doctor to tell you whether you should be very carefully monitoring your health status with regards to the risk of a stroke. Typical narrow retinal vessels in a special shape can be discovered during an eye exam and therefore by giving you the correct advice, your optometrist can reduce the risk of a stroke.
Everyone loves good food – But what about your lipid (or fat) profile? During an eye check your optometrist will discover your past ‘sins’ just in time. How do they detect early signs of high cholesterol levels?
Lipids adhere to the wall of the vessels of the retina and will change their structure. The hardening or thickening of the blood vessels induced by lipid deposition may cause high blood pressure, heart diseases and a stroke. Early detection of high cholesterol levels will help to protect you from those diseases and will extend your lifetime.
Are there any other signs would an optometrist look for as an indication of disease?
Double vision, visual field loss and uncoordinated or involuntary eye movements might be early signs of Multiple Sclerosis. Of course, an eye examination cannot take the place of a thorough examination done by your general practitioner or by a specialist. However, your eyes can reveal a lot of information about your health status.
The eye is susceptible to its own diseases. What about the indications of eye diseases and disorders that optometrists look for?
Many of which have minimal associated symptoms that can cause a range of problems from blurry vision to blindness. It is you who need to take responsibility for your eyes – you need to do your part.
Just do a simple eye check once a day by asking yourself:
If you answer one of these questions with ‘no’ you should go to your optometrist. The routine checks optometrist will perform are painless and often non-invasive.
- Do my eyes feel good?
- Do my eyes look good?
- Can I see well?
One of the tests your optometrist will do is for Glaucoma. What is this disease and how does it affect your vision?
Glaucoma causes high levels of pressure inside the eye due to failure of the eye to regulate its own internal pressure. The danger is that you don’t feel it and you don’t realize it until it is too late. Your eye is constantly under pressure and the pressure is increasing slowly without you being able to notice it. Glaucoma is one of the best investigated eye diseases, but still it is one of the most dangerous ones. That’s why early detection is so crucial to prevent loss of sight.
Untreated glaucoma causes blindness by atrophy of the optic nerve induced by the squeezing of the optic nerve through the high pressure in the inner eye. The treatment of glaucoma ranges from the simple use of eyes drops in the early stages to laser treatment and finally surgery in severe cases. You need to know that a damaged nerve cannot be restored. But healthy nerves can be protected. Regular Glaucoma prevention (once a year) with your optometrist is one of the MUST Dos for anyone who cares about their health. It’s painless – you just need to do it.
What causes cataracts?
The natural lens of the eye called ‘the crystalline lens’ becomes cloudy or milky with age. In some instances genetic predisposition can cause cataracts even with younger people. This is a very normal and progressing process, which everybody will go through in their life sooner or later. If you develop a cataract, your vision becomes hazy, glare increases and night driving is difficult.
In this cases the natural lens needs to be removed and replaced by a synthetic lens made of plastic. This operation is one of the most common surgeries done worldwide. With regards to cataracts it is important to know that UV exposure accelerates the progress of cataracts. That’s why UV protection with spectacles and contact lenses is very important. But be aware: cloudy vision is not only caused by a milky crystalline lens. See your optometrist for clarification in case you suffer from cloudy vision.
The truth about contact lenses
Why should people consider wearing contact lenses?
Today’s contact lenses are the modern alternative for vision correction. They are very comfortable to wear, easy to handle and transform the lives of millions of contact lens wearers. With contact lenses you will join the community of active people who are using this modern way of vision correction. Experience with your friends the convenience when you party, the freedom when you play sports and the elegance when you go out for dinner. You will just look different in contacts – try it.
So once you have decided to wear contact lenses, how do you choose the right contact lens?
You should always ask what is the best for your eyes and your lifestyle. Your optometrist will inform you about the options available and will do some examinations before he will give you trial lenses. Be prepared to pay an examination fee as the examination is necessary before wearing lenses to keep your eyes healthy. It only takes a few minutes and it’s painless.
People believe that contact lenses are uncomfortable – is this a myth?
This is definitely a myth, many years have past since contact lenses were first launched. But in the last few years there has been an immense development in new contact lens materials. Just compare how quickly computers develop within 1 year. Similar developments have happened in the last few years with contact lenses.
These new lenses are extremely soft, thin, flexible and most importantly they keep their moisture for fantastic comfort. The material and design allow the lens to conform to the unique shape of your eye. Also since they are replaced regularly, your lenses always feel clean, fresh and comfortable – it feels like wearing nothing at all.
There are people who don’t like putting something in their eye...
This is a normal reaction for someone new to contact lenses. In fact it has a name – “pokaphobia” or fear of touching the eye. While it is understandable to be a little hesitant at first, this feeling rapidly disappears. Once your optometrist shows you how to properly apply and remove your lenses, you’ll see it’s as easy as putting on and taking off your shoes. Millions of contact lens wearers are doing it, so why not you – try it and you will see.
What about eye infections – don’t contact lenses regularly lead to eye infections?
This is a myth, as contact lenses themselves do not produce infections. Pathogenic germs from the surface of a dirty contact lens initiates infections. Only lack of proper hygiene or misuse of contact lenses may cause such problems.
If you follow the instructions given by your optometrist and disinfect the lenses regularly, you will enjoy the convenience of wearing contact lenses without any interruptions.
Also important to keep in mind is that the more often you change your lenses the healthier it is for your eyes. This is because there is less opportunity for build up of organic deposits like lipids and proteins, which are nutrition for germs. As long as you disinfect your lenses properly, clean them carefully and replace them as directed, germs have no chance to survive.
Aren’t contact lenses unhealthy?
Contact lens materials are biocompatible – this means they do not cause problems with human tissue. Similar materials are often used in many other medical disciplines. In addition they let enough oxygen pass through the lens. That’s why with modern contact lenses lack of oxygen for the eye is history. Contact lenses are produced in a design, which suits the shape of the eye for optimal comfort. Comfort issues disappear when an optometrist fits your contact lenses properly. That means when properly fitted, properly cared for, and worn and replaced as instructed by an optometrist, contacts are a healthy option for vision correction. Since contact lenses are medical devices, it is very important to follow the instructions of your optometrist.
I’ve heard that contact lenses won’t allow my eyes to breathe – is this true or is it a myth?
For healthy eyes a certain amount of oxygen needs to reach the cornea and therefore has to pass through your contact lenses. The amount needed differs if you wear your contact lenses just throughout the day or if you want to sleep in your contacts. Your optometrist will recommend the most appropriate contact lens, which suits your needs and your lifestyle. If you follow the recommendation of your optometrist, you can be confident that your eyes will not lack oxygen to breathe.
However, although the contact lens material itself is critical for the sufficient supply of oxygen to the cornea, oxygen supply depends on more factors. For example lens care is a very important criteria. Any deposit on the surface of the contact lens will block off oxygen going through the lens. That’s why cleaning and dis-infection is so important for eye health. Combined with short replacement cycles proper contact lens care will let you enjoy your lenses to its full potential.
What about a contact lens getting stuck behind my eye?
No, it is not possible for a contact lens to get lost behind the eye. The contact lens can only stay on the front of the eye, or under your eyelid, if displaced. The eye has a protective barrier that covers the white of the eye and loops under the upper and lower lids to prevent a contact lens from moving behind it.
What if I move very quickly, or play sport, won’t the contact fall out of my eye?
Thanks to the anatomy of the human eye, it is virtually impossible for soft contact lenses to fall out. That’s why you can do all kinds of sports while wearing contact lenses. The way in which a contact lens holds onto the eye, depends on the diameter of the lens. That’s why rigid lenses, which are usually smaller in diameter, do not hold against the eye as well as soft contact lenses. Soft contact lenses very rarely fall out, if fact they never do when they are fitted properly. One more reason to visit a contact lens specialist for a proper contact lens fit.
Cleaning contact lenses takes forever – I don’t have the time for that.
Cleaning contact lenses is very important for your eye health. Luckily today’s simplified multipurpose solutions make lens care and maintenance much easier than in the past. However, the time required for lens care depends on the type of lens care regimen you choose. The best way to disinfect and clean your lenses is doing it overnight and letting your lens care solution work while you sleep. Always follow the instructions mentioned on the label of your contact lens care solution.
If you are a person who appreciates convenience, just choose daily disposable contact lenses. You will have a fresh pair of lenses everyday and you simply throw them out before you go to sleep. So you will never have to worry about cleaning at all.
Can I apply make-up when wearing lenses?
You can. What you need to do is follow the right order of actions ; apply make up after you put your contact lenses on your eye and take them out before you remove it – it’s just that simple. When you use aerosols like hair spray you should close your eyes to avoid spray sticking to the lenses.
I would like to wear colour contact lenses, but I don’t need any vision correction.
Colour contact lenses are available with and without correction powers. That means you can wear even coloured lenses when you do not need vision correction. However, even if you do not need vision correction, colour contact lenses must be fitted and prescribed by an optometrist and require the same care as any other contact lens.
Aren’t all contact lenses pretty much the same?
Thanks to the advancement in technology, there are many different types of contact lenses available. Though the selection options are many, you can divide contact lenses into two main categories : Contact lenses for daily wear and for overnight wear. Because everyone’s eyes, vision correction and lifestyle needs are different, it is important to consult your optometrist to find the best contact lens, which suits your eyes and your lifestyle.
Is it true that the higher the water content of a contact lens, the more oxygen goes through it?
This is a very common misunderstanding. The new generation of contact lenses made from silicone hydrogel materials provide much more oxygen although the water content is lower than most of the traditional soft lenses.
Surely contact lenses won’t give me clearer vision than glasses.
In fact, it is often the opposite. Contact lenses are sitting directly on the cornea and therefore correct your vision directly on the eye and not 1–2 cm away like glasses do. That’s why in many cases contact lenses provide better vision. They provide you with a wider field of view and peripheral vision than glasses, no matter where you look as your lenses move with the movement of your eyes unlike glasses. In addition, contact lenses don’t fog up, fall off, or break during physical activities and they are unaffected by the rain. In any kind of sport contact lenses provide much better vision than glasses.
I can’t wear contact lenses because I have astigmatism.
In the past, contact lenses for astigmatic correction were not available in all materials. But innovations in the last few years have changed this. Astigmatism is no longer a barrier to wearing contact lenses.
What if I’m presbyopic – can I wear contact lenses. I need glasses only for reading or using a computer.
There are different ways to correct presbyopia (the need for reading glasses) with contact lenses. One technique is called “monovision” With monovision your optometrist is using different powers in both eyes to correct your vision. It works very well for young presbyopes around 45 years of age. In addition, there are special lenses, so called “bifocals” available for presbyopic patients as well. There lenses have specific areas to correct the vision for distance and near allowing for good vision under a variety of lighting conditions. Presbyopia is not a barrier for wearing contact lenses.
Is there an age limit to wearing contact lenses?
There is no age limit : babies as well as seniors can wear contact lenses. In a recent report, the average age for teens to start wearing contact lenses was 13 years. Moreover, contact lenses are an exceptionally convenient vision correction option for teenagers who tend to be often involved in sports or recreational activities as a part of their daily routine.
Contact lenses cost a fortune
The actual cost of contact lenses is less than people think. With advancing technology, there is a wide range of contact lenses in the market. Depending on which type you wear and how often you replace them, contact lenses can cost you less per day than you spend on your daily newspaper or cup of coffee. Your optometrist will help you to find the contact lens that best suits your vision correction, life style and budget needs.
Caring for your lenses means caring for your eyes
Few things affect your quality of life more than your eyes and you should never put them at risk. As a contact lens wearers proper care and regular renewal of your contacts are essential in keeping your eyes healthy.
To keep your eyes healthy, it is of critical importance that all types of contact lenses, including coloured ones are fitted properly by an optometrist. Your optometrist will make sure that you will get the most suitable contact lens which best meets the needs of your eyes and your lifestyle.
To get the most out of your contact lenses you need to treat them well and follow the lens care directions given to you by your optometrists.
How do I choose which contact lens is right for me?
Not all contact lenses are the same. A number of different factors such as age, lifestyle and vision correction go into determining which type of contact lenses are right for each individual wearer. Because of this, only an optometrist can tell you which lens best meets your specific needs.
With more choices than ever before, today it’s an exciting time for wearers of soft contact lenses. Most of today’s contact lenses are recommended for frequent replacement and are offering wearers the opportunity to maximize their vision while maintaining excellent eye health.
Are there different categories of contact lenses?
Yes, all lenses can be broken down into 2 main categories based on whether they can be worn overnight or not.
Tell us more about daily wear contact lenses.
Daily wear contact lenses are to be worn throughout the day and need to be removed every night before going to sleep. They are discarded after a certain period of time and replaced with a new pair. It is important to know that by shortening the replacement cycles the complication rate with contact lens wear will reduce significantly.
Remember this simple truth : the more often you replace your contacts the less likely complications will occur.
How often should daily wear lenses be discarded?
Some daily wear lenses are discarded every day, while others are discarded after one or two weeks or longer. If these lenses are reused, they must be cleaned and disinfected before being worn again.
Are there any other options if you don’t want to clean your lenses everyday?
If you do not want to clean your lenses every day, or if you suffer from allergies, daily disposables might be the best solution for you.
Since you discard them every night, and replace them every morning with a fresh and new pair of lenses there is no day-to-day deposit build up and lens cleaning is not necessary. Therefore, many optometrists and contact lens wearers feel that daily disposable contact lenses are the healthiest and most convenient way of wearing contact lenses.
Earlier you also mentioned contact lenses that can be worn overnight...
Yes, extended wear contact lenses are worn overnight until the end of the wearing time recommended by your optometrist. Some extended wear lenses are discarded when removed. Others are cleaned, disinfected and reused before being replaced. Always follow the guidelines given by your optometrist.
Why is it so important that I replace my lenses regularly?
There’s more to contact lens replacement than the great feeling of placing fresh, new lenses on your eyes. It is also critical to your eye health. You may find it illogical to throw away your lenses while you feel your vision and comfort are still good. However, eye problems often have no symptoms early on and vision can be reduced considerably without detection if it occurs in small increments.
To avoid complications, you should throw away your lenses before any degradation of performance will occur. Following the recommended replacement schedule of your optometrist prevents you form future problems.
The more often you replace your lenses with a fresh new pair the healthier it is for your eyes.
Sometimes, however it is difficult to remember when to replace your lenses.
I would suggest you write your lens replacement date on your calendar. If you have an electronic calendar, program it to remind you to change your lenses. It’s also a good idea to keep a visual reminder in the area of your house where you insert and remove your lenses everyday. For example, keep a note next to your toothbrush holder or on the mirror to remind you when it’s time for a fresh pair of lenses. And remember, if in doubt, always take a new, fresh pair of lenses.
Contact lenses are medical devices and should be treated as such. Just like with any medical device failing to follow prescribed directions increases the risk of health problems with your contact lenses.
What if I occasionally wear my daily wear contact lenses overnight?
Daily wear contact lenses should never be worn overnight without approval from your optometrist. Doing so can deprive your eyes of oxygen and reduce their ability to fight off infection.
How often should I replace my contact lenses?
Always replace your lenses as directed by your optometrist. Wearing them too long without replacement can lead to a buildup of lens deposits that may result in irritation and/or reduced vision. Remember the more often you replace your lenses the healthier your eyes will be.
Are there any guidelines you can give us for maintaining contact lens?
Hand washing is always the first step before handling contact lenses, whether that is lens removal, lens insertion or lens cleaning. Otherwise, anything found on the hands can be transferred to the lens, including bacteria and other micro-organisms.
Should I use a specific type of soap to wash my hands?
Non-perfumed anti-bacterial liquid soap dispensers are preferable to bars of soap, which can be contaminated more easily. All soap must be thoroughly rinsed off the hands before the lenses are handled to avoid contamination. The hands should always be dried with a lint-free towel to prevent getting lint on the lenses.
What about cleaning of the lenses?
Any contact lens that is worn more than once must be cleaned and disinfected before being placed back onto the eye. This is because pathogenic germs could cause complications and substances like protein, calcium and lipids that are found naturally in your tears could build up on the surface of all contact lenses. They may reduce the comfort of your contact lenses and make you eyes more prone to infection.
What about contact lens solutions – are there specific solutions I should use with my contact lenses?
Contact lens solutions differ, just like your contact lenses. Multi-purpose solutions are a convenient way to care for your lenses as you can use this single solution for cleaning, disinfection and rinsing of your lenses.
Although most multi-purpose solutions can be used with most soft contact lenses, some exceptions might be possible depending on the different ingredients of the solution and contact lens material compatibility. Always consult your optometrist and only use the solutions that they recommend. You should also follow the directions given on the product label.
Do you have any tips for us on handling the contact lens solutions?
Yes, firstly, don’t touch the open tops of solution bottles, as they will become contaminated and ensure that you re-cap the bottle immediately after use.
Secondly, always ask your optometrist before you switch to a different solution brand, and finally, remember to check the expiry dates. Never use solutions where the best before date has expired.
What about cleaning of your contact lenses – is this important?
Did you know that proper cleaning and rinsing of contact lenses can eliminate at least 90% of the bacteria that may be on them?
When is the best time to clean contact lenses?
The best time to clean and disinfect soft contact lenses that will be reused is immediately upon removal.
How do I go about cleaning my contact lenses?
Traditionally, this is done by placing the lens in the clean dry palm of one hand and applying a few drops of a daily cleaning solution. Using your little finger to gently rub the front and back surface of each lens.
Rinse thoroughly with the solution and carefully place the lens back into the lens case. Fill each chamber of the lens case with solution, close the lids and leave the lenses to soak until you have to change the solution as indicated in the usage guide of the contact lens solution.
What about keeping my lens case clean – surely this is also important?
Lens case hygiene is one of the most frequently overlooked aspects of lens hygiene. On lens insertion, contact lens cases must be emptied of solution, rinsed with fresh disinfecting solution and left to air dry on a daily basis. A dry case is important as microbes cannot multiply in dry conditions. Cases should be replaced frequently, ideally monthly. Your optometrist will give you more information on the importance of following proper cleaning procedures. If you properly follow your optometrist’s recommendations, you will enjoy the convenience and clear vision of your contact lenses without any interruptions.
You regularly mention visiting your optometrist – this is obviously very important for your eye and overall health.
Visiting your optometrist on a regular basis is the single most important way to identify any eye problems and maintain good vision and healthy eyes. Remember, some eye disorders can go unnoticed for a long time before symptoms occur. A missed eye exam is also a missed chance to check for potential health problems like diabetes or high blood pressure, which often show their earlier signs in the eyes. Routine eye examinations can spot signs of such problems before they cause irreversible damage to your eyes and overall health.