As many as six out of every ten people need corrective lenses, and as many as three million people in the UK currently use contact lenses as opposed to spectacles in order to improve their vision. Contact lenses provide a more natural form of vision correction, and many people actually see better with their contact lenses than they do with spectacles. Furthermore, contact lenses are not only more aesthetically pleasing but they also offer many practical advantages for sports and recreational use.

“Perfect vision” occurs when light rays converge at a point directly on the retina and contact lenses are used to refocus light rays for those whose vision requires aid. Most common vision impairments, such as Myopia (short-sightedness), Hyperopia (long-sightedness) and Astigmatism can be treated with contact lenses, while recent technological advances have produced many more options for treating each kind of problem.

Earlier contact lenses were made from a material that restricted the flow of oxygen to the cornea and often made blinking uncomfortable due to their small size, while lenses were prone to fall out. Furthermore, lack of oxygen to the cornea was often an instigating factor when a person contracted an eye infection. Nowadays, however, contact lenses are made from materials which allow oxygen to pass more freely to the eye, allowing the eye to ‘breathe’ comfortably. This allows today’s lenses to be bigger in diameter, affording greater comfort and peripheral vision while reducing the image distortion which can be caused by some spectacles.

Contact lenses offer several advantages over spectacles. For one, contact lenses help provide unobstructed peripheral vision as they are worn next to the eye and so don’t distort objects the way spectacles can sometimes do. Secondly, since contact lenses move with your eye, you’ll always be looking through the optical centre of the lens, where vision is best. Other advantages of contact lenses include the fact that they won’t become fogged up, smudged or rain spattered, plus they won’t slide down your nose. You’re also highly unlikely to sit on contact lenses and break them!

Most contact lenses are worn on a ‘daily wear’ basis, being removed from the eye in the evening and put back in the next morning. However, everyone has a different lifestyle and, to reflect this, there are a number of different wearing schedules. Daily disposable lenses are designed for daily wear and are worn once before being thrown away, while extended wear lenses are specially designed to be worn continuously for up to a week or a month at a time before being discarded, although they should be removed nightly and cleaned with an optometrist-recommended solution.

Contact lenses should only be fitted by or under the supervision of a registered optometrist, qualified dispensing optician or medical practitioner, and it is important to have regular check-ups to make sure your eyes remain healthy and to reassure yourself that you are using the best lenses for your particular needs. The latest technological advances have seen almost constant improvement in the quality of contact lenses, meaning that almost anyone who requires vision correction and wants to wear contact lenses opposed to spectacles can do so.

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