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Contact Lenses

Contact lenses have developed a reputation for being somewhat tricky to wear. This may have been true when they were first invented, but recent advances have made wearing contacts just as easy as wearing glasses.

Contact lenses are perhaps more time-consuming to begin with, as there is a trial period of approximately a month with each different type of lens; but this is only to be expected, given the nature of contact lenses themselves and their proximity to the eyeball.

Once you express a desire to try contact lenses, your optician will usually give your eyes a check to make sure they are healthy. He or she will also ask you what kind of lenses you would like. There are three main types:

Daily disposables: one pair of lenses lasts one day, so every day you put in a new pair. You put them in when you wake up and take them out before bed. They are NOT designed to be worn overnight. The fact that you get 30 pairs a month does not make this option any more expensive than the others, which only involve one pair a month. Daily disposables are handy if you lead a busy lifestyle and do not necessarily have the time of a morning or evening to mess around with correct cleaning and storing of your contact lenses. Prices start at around £8 a month.
Monthly disposables: These are the same as the daily disposables except you wear the same pair every day. Each night you remove the lenses, clean them and store them in a specially designed container, which leaves them fresh and clean ready to be put back in the next day. Like the daily disposables, these lenses are NOT designed to be worn overnight. Prices start at around £8 a month.

Continuous wear: These are, like monthly disposables, designed to be worn for the entire month. However, the fundamental difference with these is that they are made from a thinner, breathable material which allows them to be worn overnight. They are extremely handy if you lead a busy lifestyle, as they are suitable for continuous wear for 30 days. It is advised that after 30 days you take the contacts out and allow your eyes a day of rest - that is to say, a day without contacts in - before putting in a new pair. As they are made from a different material, they are more expensive, but the difference they make can be significant. However, it should be noted that not everyone’s eyes are suited to continuous wear lenses, and the trial period takes two months to ascertain if you can wear the lenses comfortably. Prices start at around £15 a month.

Once you have tried your chosen lenses for the trial period, you will be given enough contact lenses for 1 month or 3 months depending on which lenses you choose. Lenses can be sent to your home address or collected from store; if you lose a lens or need a replacement, this is usually provided free of charge.

Warning: If you ever experience any discomfort when wearing your lenses, take them out at the first available opportunity, clean them thoroughly (if necessary) and leave them out until the next day. This applies even to the continuous wear - if something is irritating your eye, leaving it in will only cause more damage. Usually it is only dust or tiredness that causes irritations, but always err on the side of caution - in most cases your eyes will be fine by the morning

So how to choose?
Well, you will first of all have to decide if you could handle wearing contacts. If not, then you will be focussing more on glasses, and finding a style that suits you. If you’re always losing things, it might be a good idea to find a buy-one-get-one-free offer, so there’s always a spare pair of glasses when you need them. If you just want the one pair but you want to splash out a little and treat yourself, look for a good offer on designer frames.

If you do opt for contact lenses, decide if you want daily or monthly disposables, and if you want them to be continuous wear or not. No matter what kind of lens you choose, your vision will always be exactly the same: the only difference is how often or for how long the lenses are worn. There are usually offers on contact lenses too, especially free trials - so if you’re not sure, you can always wear them for the trial period and see what you think. Contact lenses aren’t for everyone, but for those people who don’t like glasses they can be a wonderful alternative.