Let’s start with the “friend” argument. Freedom from glasses has never been more within reach – and with daily lenses becoming more available for most prescription types, the discomfort problems we so often hear about are diminishing. Don’t take my word for it! Just ask someone who is wearing them, they will tell you that they are comfortable, convenient, and reasonably priced (yes, especially at your optometrists office!), not to mention you don’t need contact lens solution which is an estimated $80/year cost savings alone. They are also cleaner, and less likely to be associated with eye disease. I’m fond of reminding patients that North Americans (particularly Canadians) are just catching up to the rest of the free world who are have already embraced the daily modality en masse – It is estimated that 34% of contact lens wearers worldwide are daily lens wearers, but only 15% of North Americans wear daily lenses. In Asia, 55% of contact lens wearers wear daily lenses, with Japan leading the charge. Daily lenses continue to increase in popularity in North America with 45-60% of practitioners stating they will prescribe more daily contact lenses in 2012, and market share increasing 3-5% per year (See Article: Contact Lenses 2011) There’s no secret here folks, daily lenses are just better. If you have given up on contacts, it’s time to revisit them.
So what about the Foe argument? Contact lenses are a medical device you insert behind your eyelids against your cornea and conjunctiva tissues to clear up your vision. Any vendor or manufacturer characterizing them otherwise are simply disregarding your eye health. You should always consult a professional when making important decisions about your eye health, especially contact lenses. Who you consult for your contact lenses turns out to be a factor in your eye health – Patients are 12X more likely to develop eye health problems when making contact lens fitting decisions without consulting a professional. Last week I addressed the need for regular eye exams – contact lens wearers should be seen at least annually (See Article: Eye Exams How Often?). It has been shown that off the shelf cosmetic contact lenses are associated with increased incidence of eye health problems. This is why Bill C-313, currently before the Canadian Parliament, was introduced, ironically, just before Halloween last year (See Article: Fashion blurring the lines of sight). Every optometrist knows the risks of contact lens wear: increased incidence of eye disease – especially if worn overnight, increasing that risk 10X, increased incidence of dry eyes, etc. At the same time, most problems can be avoided at the user level: vigorous hand washing with insertion and removal, not re-using contact lens solution, religious disposal regimens (not over-using), clean bathroom surfaces and contact lens cases, and not sleeping in contact lenses. Bottom line – visit a professional such as an optometrist to determine how to optimize your contact lens comfort and vision. We are here to help, and firmly on your side, that of the patient. Contact lenses don’t have to be the foe.
Dr. James Thompson