Looking for the best contacts for dry eyes
August 14, 2009 11:13 AM   Subscribe

Should I stick with my current contact lenses, or go with one of two other brands?

I'm about to buy a 6 month supply of contacts (2 boxes) and am trying to decide between staying with my current brand of contacts, or going with one of two other types. They all have the same BC and Diameter measurement options as my current ones. My vision is not too horrible, -3.75 in one eye, -4 in the other. I'm nearsighted, and have been wearing contacts on and off for about 8 years, mostly off. My #1 problem is dry eyes. My eyes are so dry that I even have to use drops regularly without contacts.

Looking at 1-800-CONTACTS, I find two other brands that seem like they could be better than my current ones. This makes my options:
1) Current contacts: Biofinity, made of comfilcon A, 48% water. These are my current ones, and I'm mostly happy with them. I still get really dry eyes if I wear them for too long.
2) PureVision, which are balaficon A, 36% water. You are able to wear these for 30 days day and night, although I would definitely not be doing that. I might wear them overnight occasionally, like if I was up all night studying or was too tired to take them out before bed. Yes, I did read this thread.
3) Focus Monthly, which are vifilcon A, and 55% water.

I'm tempted to go with the Focus ones because they have a higher water content, and I have dry eyes. However, I've read that contacts with a higher water content are not always better for dry eyes because they can suck more moisture from your eyes when the water in the contacts starts to evaporate. I don't know if this is true.
The reason the PureVisions are tempting is because they're supposed to be comfortable enough to wear overnight if desired. With my super dry eyes, I don't know if this is possible, but it would be very convenient.
All of my options are monthlies and are within $10 in price for 2 boxes, so cost is not a factor.

One important factor is that I don't plan on wearing contacts every day. When I have contacts I wear them at most every other day. When I run out, I tend to go months without getting more, just wearing glasses every day. I'm going back to school, though, and I can see things in class much better with contacts, and get frustrated with dirty glasses. I also like being able to wear regular sunglasses instead of my heavy rx ones with thick lenses. It would be nice to be able to fall asleep in my contacts without worrying too much, but if they aren't comfortable enough to do so anyway, it's a useless feature (referring to the PureVisions).

I would appreciate any input from those who have used any of these brands of contacts. I need to buy these before the end of the month because my Flexible Spending from my job will run out then, so I don't really have the ability to ask my optometrist to try any (and she will try to get me to buy them through her, which is more expensive).
posted by ishotjr to Health & Fitness (12 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I wear 30 day leave in contacts and LOVE them. For whatever reason they are much more comfortable than any other contacts I have ever had, including the type you had to take out every night.
posted by mjcon at 11:28 AM on August 14, 2009 [1 favorite]

I've worn both the Purevision and Focus monthlies, and find the Purevision to be far more comfortable. I sleep in them for up to a month at a time. There's always a bottle of contact solution or rewetting drops on my bedside table, because any lens you sleep in will feel dry when you first wake up. The ones designed for monthly wear are more about the oxygen they let through to your eye.

Acuvue Oasys are the most comfortable thing I've ever put in my eye, though. If I didn't sleep in my lenses, that's what I'd use. (They are safe to sleep in, though less so than the various brands of monthlies.)
posted by ferociouskitty at 11:33 AM on August 14, 2009

I wear 30 day leave in contacts and LOVE them. For whatever reason they are much more comfortable than any other contacts I have ever had, including the type you had to take out every night.

If mjcon is talking about Ciba Vision's Air Optix Night & Days, they're expensive (I just bought a year's supply--at $378 with a $50 rebate that I still need to drop in the mail), but awesome.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 11:43 AM on August 14, 2009

I've worn contacts for 10+ years and my advice is to talk to your optometrist. Tell them what you're looking for in a lens and they will probably have recommendations for you. They will also likely give you a free "trail pair" to wear, so that you can test drive comfort, dryness, etc. before filling a full prescription's worth. I highly recommend trying before you buy.

FWIW, I wore Ciba Vision/Focus Night & Day (30-day sleepable) contacts for years and loved them. They've recently changed though and been renamed to Air Optix Night & Days. Unfortunately whatever they changed (my eye doc said they added a special coating) irritated the heck out of my eyes and I had to stop wearing them. Thus my recommendation that you try before you buy. Everyone's eyes are different.
posted by geeky at 12:51 PM on August 14, 2009

I also find Acuvue Oasys to be the best contacts I've used that don't dry out. Definitely consult your eye doctor, as you may be able to try a couple of different lenses before comitting to buying a couple of boxes.
posted by andrewraff at 12:59 PM on August 14, 2009

Best answer: See below a snippet from here: http://www.ce4optometry.com/web/mediconcept/CRO%2019.3_1-CRO%2019.3%20CE%20Michaud.pdf

Seems like you're going backwards by entertaining the idea of using Balaficon A lenses. The % water content is not the measure of comfort -- the polymer characteristics (which include more than H2O content) are. As mentioned by the article, the different polymers differ in how attractive they are to protein and lipids and how much oxygen they allow to transverse.

I agree with the earlier posters comment that the brand is part of your prescription. You should talk to your optometrist about all this and in the process you should be able to try out several different brands of lenses for a week or so of each. For what it's worth, I'm an Acuvue Oasis user. Recently, I had an exam and new Rx, so the doctor thought I should try the upgrade that Acuvue has -- their new and improved version versus the Oasis type and I found them very uncomfortable. So new-and-improved can be an individual kind of thing -- who knows? maybe balaficon *would* be more comfortable for you, even though it's 1st generation vs 3rd, as I've found that 2nd vs 3rd is more comfortable. But that association with increased infection might give you pause. In any case, you've got to try them out, and part of what you pay for at the optometrist is the opportunity to try out a bunch of lenses till they find ones that are good for you.

"SiHy lenses are different from others in their nature and their properties.
Stiffness (modulus), wettability of their surface, lipid,
and denatured protein attraction differ from one lens to
another. Balaficon A (PureVision®, Bausch & Lomb,
Rochester, NY), lotrafilcon A (Focus Night and Day®,
CIBA Vision, Duluth, GA), and lotrafilcon B (O2OptixTM,
CIBAVision, Duluth, GA) are considered first generation,
and stiffer than the second (senofilcon A, Acuvue®
OasysTM; galyfilcon A, Acuvue® AdvanceTM, Johnson &
Johnson, Jacksonville, FL) and third generation
(Biofinity®, CooperVision, Fairport, NY). The first
generation was more closely associated with adverse
reactions, namely peripheral sterile ulcers (CLPU) and
superior epitheliopathy (SEAL), compared with better
clinical performance obtained with the newer generations.
The first generation SiHy lenses are less comfortable
than pHEMA lenses. Because of their higher modulus
(stiffness), some patients experience lens comfort only
after a few days or one month of wear."
posted by Tandem Affinity at 1:16 PM on August 14, 2009

Definitely try before you buy, and if possible you should wear a new brand for some period of time before buying a year's supply. The last time I got my eyes checked, my doc switched me to a lens with more oxygen transmission, but within a month the contacts got gunked up with protein deposits, despite using the exact same cleaning procedures as my previous lenses. I had to switch back to my older "inferior" lenses. In short, you don't know how your eyes will like a supposedly better lens, and focusing (gah, pun!) on one aspect of the lens (water percentage) isn't going to tell you how your eyes like it.
posted by meowzilla at 1:26 PM on August 14, 2009

I've worn Focus (Toric) monthlies every day for ten years and I like them a lot. I recently got a new prescription and on a whim ordered a trial pair of another brand. I hate them and I'm going back to Focus ASAP. I take my lenses out every night and regularly wear them for over a month as long as they continue to feel good. Once they start to bother my eyes a little, I open a new pair. YMMV, of course.
posted by thebergfather at 1:48 PM on August 14, 2009

Response by poster: The two I am looking at have the same BC and Diameter as the current ones, which, as I understand, is what is important. Oaysys are not an option because their measurements are different.
Since trying them is not an option (like I said I have less than 2 weeks before my FSA account runs out), I will be sticking with my current lenses.
posted by ishotjr at 2:01 PM on August 14, 2009

Really, you should see your optometrist before you do this and explain to him or her about your dry eyes and that you want a brand that's best for that condition. The optometrist could also give you (multiple?) samples to try and then you could see what's actually best and healthiest for your eyes.
posted by pised at 2:02 PM on August 14, 2009

Seconding seeing an actual optometrist first, if only so you can get samples of nine different kinds plus some expert advice.

If you want to order 100 from somewhere online later, fine.
posted by rokusan at 7:33 PM on August 14, 2009

The brand of your lenses is part of the prescription. It is against the law for the company to send you a different brand than the one written on your prescription, even if it is the same measurements and prescriptions. I was just told this by my eye doctor a few weeks ago. You still have two weeks in the month of August--why not see if you can get in to your eye doctor in the next few days and talk to her? You should be able to get enough to sample for at least a few days, and then you wouldn't be pushed to order at the visit. In fact, you can get the samples, decide what you like, and then just order online--you don't need the final prescription actually in hand, they will call your doctor to verify it. Ordering Aug 18 and ordering Aug 30 is the same for your FSA.

You might want to try daily disposables. I have them and I have dry eyes and they are great. You're putting in a new lens every day, so they are always clean and I think they also tend to have a higher water content. They're also good if you're not using them every single day since you just open up a new set whenever you feel like lenses.
posted by min at 8:27 AM on August 18, 2009

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