New Contact Lenses
January 25, 2005 9:24 AM   Subscribe

Has anyone transitioned from rigid gas permeable contact lenses to glasses? Did your prescription stay stable? Why do glasses make me feel cross eyed and fuzzy headed compared to RGPs--do I just have to wait it out and get used to them, or was the prescription wrong? Can I wear RGPs part of the time and glasses part of the time? [NB: I've never gotten good answers on these questions from my eye doc.]
posted by insideout to Health & Fitness (13 answers total)
After about 7 years wearing RGPs, I had to go back to glasses because I was getting way too much pain and corneal abrasions. It is my understanding that the RGPs kind of hold the lenses of your eyes in position, which slows down your need to get your prescription renewed. After going back to glasses, it went back to where I would have to get my prescription updated about every year or so.

There should be no problem with switching back and forth between RGPs and glasses within the same period of time, but you will probably feel that your vision is slightly different for an hour or so after you switch.

If you don't feel right about your glasses prescription after a week or so, I think you should get them looked at, maybe by a different doctor. It shouldn't take longer than a few days to get used to them.

Note, I am not an eye doctor, just someone with a lot of personal experience.
posted by matildaben at 9:36 AM on January 25, 2005

I am not a doctor, but I am an exclusive glasses-wearer. I switched from the RGP contacts a very long time ago because they were extremely uncomfortable. I recall that my doctor at the time mentioned that contact lenses take away the necessity for the eyeball to focus. Glasses, though, still cause the eyes to focus, and my doctor said that more muscular eyes (ones that focus more) could make for fewer prescription adjustments. Unfortunately, this was so long ago that I may have this information completely backwards.
posted by omphale27 at 9:47 AM on January 25, 2005

Whenever I get new glasses it takes about a week or a little more to get used to the distortion glasses cause, not to mention the loss of peripheral vision and whatnot.

I can only imagine that switching back and forth between contacts and frames would cause this adjustment period to take a little longer.

I have at least two family members that use both contacts and glasses, and they don't seem to have any problems with it.
posted by loquacious at 9:49 AM on January 25, 2005

Glasses will always feel different because of their proximity to the eye. With contacts, they are actually on your eyeball, and glasses are about an inch away. Contacts are always positioned correctly where glasses move around, allow the peripheral world in, the center of the lens is not always positioned on the center of your eye.

However, you will get used to it. I wear contacts and glasses; they are each a different feel, and it depends on what I'm in the mood for.
posted by scazza at 9:51 AM on January 25, 2005

I used to wear RGP contacts until a couple years ago, when I switched to glasses. The glasses took a little getting used to -- there's more distortion around the edges, etc -- but they didn't make me feel cross-eyed or anything like that.
My prescription has stayed stable since then.
posted by Mark Doner at 10:03 AM on January 25, 2005

Don't know if this is just voodoo, but I don't wear the RGP contacts for as long as possible before going to have my vision examined in an attempt to get as un-warpy a perscription as possible. Also the day of the exam I don't wear glasses or contacts at all. I feel like I'm then being examined with my eyes in as natural a focusing state as possible.

I started doing this because I felt like my contacts perscription was always right and my glasses never came close (and it was disorienting). May be I've set up a nice placebo effect, but I switch easily between the two nowadays. My perscription hasn't changed in several years now. (I'm in my early 30s.)
posted by xo at 10:18 AM on January 25, 2005

(and should know how to spell prescription by now.)
posted by xo at 10:19 AM on January 25, 2005

Has anyone transitioned from rigid gas permeable contact lenses to glasses?

Yes. I wore RGP lenses for 25 years.

The reason that most people wear that type of lense is because they want to the freedom from glasses, but have an astigmatism. Because RPG lenses retain their shape on the cornea better than soft lenses, they tend to provide crisper vision to people who have astigmatism. Once you remove the RPGs, your cornea no longer has the hard contact lense surface to keep it shaped correctly. Without the help of the RPG, the cornea will return to its irregular shape.

Did your prescription stay stable?

Because RGPs allow for such crisp vision, changing to glasses results in a slight to moderate vision change. How drastic that change is results from when the exam for glasses was done. Did you take off your contacts and have the exam that same day? Or, did not remove your contacts for a few days before hand? This is important because your vision correction will either be based on corneas that are shaped by the RPGs or corneas that are in the process of returing to their natural state. If you primarily rely on RPGs, your doctor most likely just had you remove them for the exam, thus your prescription is based on vision that is corrected by the RPG, instead of vision with no correction. This is okay if glasses are worn only for a couple of hours, lets say before you go to bed at night. But, it does not work if you'll be wearing your glasses for an extented period of time because the astigmatism will reemerge and the glasses will not correct it.

Why do glasses make me feel cross eyed and fuzzy headed compared to RGPs--do I just have to wait it out and get used to them, or was the prescription wrong?

Although it's normal to have some difference in crispness, it should not be so drastic as you describe. I had a similar thing happen last year. I found out that one of the lenses from my glasses had a ridge down the center. This was imperceptable to me, but resulted in poor vision and headaches. If your vision affects you that drastically, you should return to the doctor for a reexamination to determine what exactly is causing these problems for you. Most eye doctors have a policy that follow up exams are free.

Can I wear RGPs part of the time and glasses part of the time?

Yes, but see above. The longer that you wear glasses between contact lense wearing, the worse your vision will be with glasses.

Have you thought about soft toric lenses? I've been trying them out for a few months now. My vision is not as crisp as with RPGs, but it's still much better than wearing glasses. Soft lenses are also much more comfortable that RPGs. The key to toric lenses is finding the right correction for your astigmatism. I've tried out over a dozen lenses. I think that I've finally narrowed it down to what will work for me.
posted by Juicylicious at 10:20 AM on January 25, 2005

If you're having 'cross-eyed' problems, it could be due to several reasons, including:

- Contact lenses are always the 'correct' distance from the eye, whereas the position of glasses changes, and you are always having to re-focus slightly to compensate.

- Each opthamologist will come up with a different prescription for you. There's no way to arrive at a completely "accurate" reading of what is wrong with your eyes; there's always a little voodoo involved, despite all the fancy machines. It can be disorienting therefore to switch between scrips, especially if there are different corrections for such things as astigmatism.

- Depending on your age, you may be starting to need bifocal glasses.

If you're going to switch, just bite the bullet and switch. Glasses technology has seen some innovations in the past few years which partly address the problems of glasses slipping about on your nose. These include: titanium frames (very lightweight, indestructible); lightweight plastic lenses, including high-index lenses; and silicon pads for the nose and side frames (these 'stick' to your skin better).

I would recommend getting the best pair you can afford. Comfort is everything. Titanium frames are definitely worth it for me as they never wear out, start to look shabby, get bent, etc. Check opticians for close-out sales on expensive frames.

FWIW I ditched RGPs for glasses about fifteen years ago, after about 15 years of RGPs.

[And on preview, what others have said]
posted by carter at 10:32 AM on January 25, 2005

Why do glasses make me feel cross eyed and fuzzy headed compared to RGP

If you're big nearsighted, I'd suggest that it's the distortions caused by the lenses. My vision is -6/-5, and I used to catch big distortions on the edges of my vision if I wore my glasses.

One thing I've found helpful with part-time glasses is to get the absolute highest-index plastic you can find. It costs the earth, but it seems to be reduce the distortions. Anti-reflective coating also helps me ignore the glasses.

Can I wear RGPs part of the time and glasses part of the time?

I do. I usually wear RGP lenses, but on a day when I'm protein-cleaning them or have to leave the house in a rush in the morning or if I just don't give a damn, I wear glasses. No problems, but vision *is* slightly better with contacts. I probably wear glasses 2 days out out of the week, if you add up the partial days.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 12:46 PM on January 25, 2005

Your prescription may be different from contacts to glasses because the distance from the corrective lens to your retina is different. When I had glasses as backup for RPGs, the prescriptions were quite different. I could wear them both on the same day, and make the switch fairly easily, but it took 5-10 minutes whenever I switched before I felt really comfortable (both glasses and RPGs corrected to 20/20). (Much of the problem is due to the amount of astigmatic correction I have. My sis, who has very little astigmatic correction, can swap with no problems at all.))

If you've been wearing RPGs for a while, it may take a couple of tries to get the glasses prescription correct. Part of this may be that your eyes are changing. Basically, RPGs correct astigmatism by brute force, and now that you're not wearing them, the eyeball is deforming (well, actually, it's going back to where it wants to be).

I gave up RPGs when my oldest kid entered school, and I didn't want to be putting contacts in before I was fully awake.
posted by jlkr at 12:54 PM on January 25, 2005

I had RGPs for a couple of years because they could correct my astigmatism, nearsightedness and my age-related farsightedness. I had worn soft lenses up to about age 40 but switched when I couldn't see up close anymore. The RGPs were definitely the best vision I ever had, better than soft lenses and better than any glasses I'd worn in the past. But, as others have noted, they were never very comfortable.

Now I wear soft toric lenses (like juicylicious), with a close up lens in my right eye and a distance lens in my left. It takes some getting used to but it works for me. With my bifocal glasses, I have to tilt my head back to see a computer screen and that's quickly fatiguing. The toric lenses allow me to keep a normal head position.

Like juicylicious, it also took a while to get the right lens. For a while I had two different brands, one in each eye, but I developed a problem with one and now I have the same brand in each eye. For me, the key is to have a opthamologist who's willing to try different things and who is willing to listen. Don't be afraid to go to a different one if you're not happy (and your health plan cooperates).
posted by tommasz at 1:21 PM on January 25, 2005

I wear RGPs almost every day, and use glasses usually before bed and after waking up. In other words, I switch between both very regularly, and haven't experienced any problems. I've been doing this for maybe 8 years or so.
posted by swank6 at 2:55 PM on January 25, 2005

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