Tuesday, February 5, 2008

The History and Future of Contact Lenses

Have you ever wondered exactly how contact lenses help you see better? How did they begin and what changes have been made?


Your vision depends on light beams hitting the retina (the back of your eyeball) at the same point. When the light does not meet at the same point, vision becomes blurred.

To correct this vision problem a lens needs to be placed in front of the eye to compensate. The lens then becomes a 'perfect' eye and light beams converge together at the retina.

While eye glasses have long provided the needed correction for vision problems, contact lenses were a marvel of science allowing individuals the freedom to forgo the hassle of slipping, fogging and distracting eye glasses. The inside surface of the contact lens is fitted to the shape of your eye so it stays in place. The outer surface is shaped to the corrected curve (as in eye glasses).


Originally these contacts were made of hard plastic that required saline solution drops on a regular basis to keep moist. They were also prone to 'popping' out and causing discomfort when blinking.

Thankfully contact lenses have come a long way from the original ones available years ago. Newer contacts are made from a soft plastic that allows the eye to 'breathe'. They are much more comfortable to wear and because of the high water content of the material they require less maintenance during use. Soft contacts cling to the layer of tears covering the cornea and move slightly with each blink. This ensures that the eye stays moist and foreign materials can be safely washed out.

Contact lenses used to only correct common vision problems like short-sightedness (myopia - when a person can focus on objects close to them but not far away) and far-sightedness (hyperopia - where the individual can see well at a distance but has trouble focusing clearly on print and other close objects). Now even individuals with astigmatism (where the shape of the cornea is elongated) or presbyopia (an age related condition that used to require bi-focals) can find contact lenses to suit their unique needs.


There is an endless supply of new products on the market so every contact lens wearer can find the perfect solution.

Contacts are now available in a disposable variety that means no cleaning is required. There are also contacts that can be worn for a week or even a month without being removed and cleaned - great for those who hate the daily hassle.

Many contact lens wearers are experimenting with changing the color of their eyes. While older versions produced harsh colors, new versions of color contacts (which can even be worn by individuals who have no vision problems) can be found in subtle shades and can even change dark eyes to light.

More advances are sure to be made to contacts; there is even talk of contacts created to prevent conditions like myopia from developing in children. Whatever happens, those with vision problems can count on new solutions being added to the currently available options all the time.

Proper Care of Contact Lenses Will Protect Your Vision

Are you wearing contact lenses right now? Maybe not if you've been viewing the computer screen for a long time. The computer is only one cause of discomfort for contact lens wearers. If you are new to contacts or have developed bad habits in caring for your lenses you may find your eyes are often dry and irritated when wearing them.

Properly caring for your lenses and following the guidelines for your type is important in protecting your vision and ensuring your contacts are comfortable to wear. See if you've been making these mistakes that could be ruining your contacts and possibly harming your eyes.


Your eyes are very sensitive and can easily become infected when you do not clean your lenses properly. The lens develops a build up of deposits that can irritate the eye. Lens cleaning solutions will break down the deposits and disinfect the lens.

Water and homemade saline solutions can contain micro-organisms, chlorine and other minerals that can damage the lens and harm your eyes.

Unless you are wearing disposable lenses you must clean your contacts after every wear. Use an appropriate lens case for storage and clean the case and allow to air dry between uses.


Some contacts are meant to be thrown out after one day of wear. Others can be worn for a week or a month without removing them in between. Most require removal and cleaning every day. It is important to know the schedule your contacts are intended for to prevent problems with your eyes.


When you remove or insert your contacts be sure to handle them with clean, dry hands. Avoid washing your hands with soaps containing perfumes or oils and don't allow sunscreen, hand cream or nail polish remover to come in contact with them.

If your eyes are dry and irritated you can also use eye drops to remoisten your contacts while wearing them rather than trying to take them out. In fact, if your eyes do feel dry and the contact is sticking try to remoisten your contacts before attempting to remove them.

If you wear makeup you should insert the contacts before applying cosmetics and remove them before washing cosmetics off. Powders and sprays can irritate contact lens wearers so be careful when applying powdery shadows or hair spray when wearing contact lens. If irritation occurs DO NOT rub your eyes; remove lenses first and clean them in the cleaning solution before wearing again.

Your vision is invaluable - take care to protect it from harm. If you do think you've injured or infected your eye do not wear your contacts until you have been seen by an eye care specialist.