Easy on the eyes--literally--contacts?
August 20, 2009 5:41 AM   Subscribe

After giving up on contacts about 5 years ago, I'm curious about any new types of contacts that are out now that would be easy on my eyes.

Short history: I'm nearsighted and wear glasses, but around 10-15 years ago I used to wear contacts regularly. Very gradually over time, the lenses are more and more irritating, and now if I use them they dry out my eyes and become annoying after half a day. Because of this, about 5 years ago I just stopped--they aren't worth the hassle. The brand I've always used was Johnson and Johnson, not sure the specific lens name though.

SO, I'm hoping the technology has improved and there are some contacts out there that are really easy on the eyes. Specifically, I read about a new kind that you can put in and forget about for a month. Sounds amazing if true. Surely if they're designed for a month, I can at the very least get through a full day wearing them. Anyone know about these lenses?
posted by zardoz to Health & Fitness (15 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: The month-long contacts are called Focus Day/Night. I wear them and they're very comfortable. I don't think I've ever left them in for a whole month (gross!) but I can usually go three or four days before they start to bother me. The downside is that they're a bit more expensive than other brands, so it sucks if you lose or tear one.
posted by fancypants at 5:52 AM on August 20, 2009

May be a little unrealistic, having sensitive eyes and expecting to wear contacts for a month at a time. My eyes are pretty sensitive and I wear Focus Dailies. These are the best I've tried, and I still go through a lot of drops to avert dryness and redness.
posted by scratch at 6:10 AM on August 20, 2009

I also use the focus day/night lenses. When I was living in a humid area, I'd leave them in for about a week before taking them out and leaving them out overnight (on the eye doctor's recommendation) or for a day or two. Now I live in a much drier climate and need to use re-wetting drops and take them out more frequently. As fancypants says, they are more expensive, but I was able to get a free pair from my eye doctor to try them out first. Also, sometimes the manufacturer also has a free pair coupon on their website that your eye doctor will honor.
posted by BlooPen at 6:14 AM on August 20, 2009

Yeah, the brand you have heard of is Ciba Vision's Focus Night & Day (the new version is called Air Optix Night and Day). I'm not an optometrist, but just as an anecdotal data point, I've been wearing that brand for almost three years now and pretty much wear each pair for the full 30 days it says you can on the box (including sleeping in them -- waking up with relatively clear vision is amazing... they're a bit dry for the first 5 or 10 mins, but nothing like if you accidentally slept in a regular pair of contacts)... I just try and wear my glasses for a 24 hour period between those 30 day sessions to give my eyes a bit of break.

But generally, I cannot speak highly enough of them and have recommended them to many contact-wearing friends. My eyes no longer get dry towards the end of the day or when I use computers, unlike my old contacts.
posted by modernnomad at 6:18 AM on August 20, 2009

I also wear Focus and find them comfortable. You may have to try several different brands before you find the ones that are right for you. One particular brand I tried felt like shards of glass in my eyes so don't give up too easily. The Focus lenses I wear are the new bifocal lenses.
posted by tamitang at 6:20 AM on August 20, 2009

Best answer: I've never worn the month long lenses you're referring to, but I stopped wearing contacts about 6 months ago because they irritated my eyes. About 2-3 months ago, I went to the ophthalmologist and explained my concern. She switched me to a different brand of lenses, and more importantly (I think), a different type of cleaning solution - Clear Care, which a hydrogen peroxide solution. You put it in a special case with the lenses, and the case contains a metal that separates out the hydrogen peroxide into water & oxygen - I think it might be the bubbling that does the cleaning. It's totally different than your standard saline solution.

The ophthalmologist also tried two different types of lenses on me for a couple weeks (one in each eye) and I got to pick which was more comfortable - I couldn't tell the difference. She also evaluated which one looked like a better fit / looked like it didn't irritate my eye. So, I'd suggest a trip to the ophthalmologist for an eye exam, contact lens fitting, and then a contact lens trial - multiple contact lens trial, if needed.

I also find it helpful to try and limit my contacts-wearing to 4ish 12hr days a week, rather than 7 16hr+ days a week. I'd rather be able to wear contacts when convenient (exercise, the beach, rainy days, dressing up) for my whole life than wear them all of the time now, and wearing them part-time seems to be a lot easier on my eyes than trying to wear them all of the time.
posted by insectosaurus at 6:35 AM on August 20, 2009

I wear the Focus Night and Days (now called Air Optix as noted above) and have sensitive eyes. I take them out every night, even though they are possible to wear for 30 day stretches. Sometimes, at the end of the night or after a long day (especially when I've been using the computer for long periods of time) they begin to irritate me, but I am definitely able to wear them without discomfort most days. I've never tried sleeping with them in because my eyes are so sensitive, but for your (our) purposes these lenses work very well. Since I'm unable to wear other lenses, the extra expense doesn't bother me - it's either Air Optix or no contacts for me.
posted by k8lin at 7:48 AM on August 20, 2009

I wear the Air Optix Night and Day. Light years ahead of others I've tried but the 30 day lenses usually only last me 15-20 days. Then again, they are in my eyes until they start to irritate. If I took them out occassionaly and use Clear Care I'd probably get the full 30 days or more.
posted by Carbolic at 8:32 AM on August 20, 2009

Second the daily throwaways.
posted by A189Nut at 11:02 AM on August 20, 2009

I've had good luck with Acuvue Oasis, and wouldn't you know... I actually do live in a (dusty, dirty, polluted) desert.

Nthing that the cleaning solution can make a big difference.
posted by bluedaisy at 12:42 PM on August 20, 2009

Contacts have changed a lot recently, particularly for dry eye problems like yours (and mine). My optometrist just gave me some new ones that came out in the last couple of months, that's how often they're changing. The cleaning solutions are also always changing and improving, and that makes a huge difference too.

Five years ago I also gave up wearing my contacts even though I'd worn them for years because the dry grittiness got to me too much. I was diagnosed with a specific dry eye problem and there was some corneal damage from my lenses. But I found a new optometrist three years ago, one that keeps up to date with current technology, and now I wear them happily 12-16 hours per day every day (including heavy computer use) without a single issue. Mine are two weeklies, which I think is a good balance between monthlies (feel horrible for the last 7-10 days) and dailys (too expensive and annoying).

So go find an optometrist that specialises in fitting contact lenses. You'll probably want to start with silicon hydragel lenses and to talk about the best cleaning solution. Be ready to try a couple of different types and also be ready to be surprised at how comfortable they are these days.
posted by shelleycat at 4:09 PM on August 20, 2009

I've worn most of the lenses mentioned above and have been happiest with the Acuvue Oasys. When I first put them in, I literally thought I had dropped the lens until I realized I could see. They felt that light to me. Others worked well for a very short time and then got gunky fast.

That said, I'd expect you to spend a few months trying out different lenses to find the ones that work the best for your eyes.
posted by Noon Under the Trees at 7:45 PM on August 20, 2009

I would like to disagree with the suggestion of Oasys lenses, but ymmv. I currently (and have for the past several years) worn Acuvue 2 bi-weekly lenses. I tried the Oasys lenses but noticed zero difference and they cost about twice as much as my Acuvue 2's. If anything, they seemed to make my eyes drier than normal!

I'm not sure I would feel comfortable wearing contacts for a MONTH! As my dad told me when I first started wearing contacts (back in the 'these lenses should last you a year' age of lenses), "You only get one set of eyes, you should take care of them!". I use Opti-Free Express to clean and store my lenses and use new solution every day. With this practice, I am able to comfortably stretch my 2 week lenses to about a month and some change with no irritation.

Definitely go to the eye-doctor and tell them your situation. The last contact lens exam I had factored in lens fitting into the cost. I was able to try three different lenses before I picked one I liked (which ended up being the Acuvue 2s).

Good luck!
posted by ThaBombShelterSmith at 10:46 PM on August 20, 2009

I was put on the Day/Nights a few years ago when my previous brand was unavailable. I would only sleep in them every once in while, and didn't seem to have any problems for the first several months. Then I slept in them one night, and woke up with extreme irritation that did not go away even after I removed the contact. I ended up being diagnosed with a sterile corneal infiltrate. It cleared up, but with that experience I got turned off from the monthlies. I now wear O2 Optix, which are billed as being super breathable bi-weeklies.

You may also want to try talking to your eye-doctor about your dryness. He/she may be able to put you on medicinal drops like Restasis to help.
posted by weathergal at 11:32 PM on August 20, 2009

Clear Care also made a huge difference in comfort level. BUT WHATEVER YOU DO, do not screw up like I did and accidentally use it to put in your contacts!!! It will literally make you fall to the floor in agonizing pain thinking your eye has been burnt with acid. I cannot emphasis this enough. And it only took me twice to learn to pay Attention to which bottle I was picking up.
posted by tamitang at 10:32 PM on August 21, 2009

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