Tell me about contact lenses
June 16, 2011 12:02 AM   Subscribe

Should I try contact lenses again? What brand/style?

I've been wearing glasses for about 20 years. I'm mildly near-sighted, with a minor astigmatism. I tried contact lenses about 10 years ago, and could never get comfortable wearing them, for a variety of reasons. Part of it was that I was kind of squicked out by having something in my eye/having to touch my eye, and part was that I could just not get comfortable - I was always very aware of the contacts, and they'd sometimes practically pop out.

Has anything changed in the last 10 years that would make my experience with contact lenses better if I tried them again? Is there a particular brand you'd recommend? Please assume I'm a newbie to contacts as of 2011 and tell me what would work best.
posted by Lulu's Pink Converse to Health & Fitness (22 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Go to a salon that sells a bunch of different lenses and tell them everything about your previous experience. I tried wearing contact lenses in the early '00s and was pretty much put off by them. A year or two ago I got some Acuvue single-wear lenses, and now I use them whenever I decide I don't want to wear glasses: on cold days, or on days I have a photo shoot. They're more than comfortable enough to wear the whole day, and at the end of the day I just toss them.
posted by jedrek at 12:17 AM on June 16, 2011

I wear the acuvue long wear (I keep them in for 1+ months) and sleep in them. That reduces the touching the eye fun.

They're a hell of a lot more comfortable than what I was wearing 10 years ago. Try lots of samples and see what they can do for you.
posted by guster4lovers at 12:24 AM on June 16, 2011

Dailies. Absolutely.

I've been wearing contacts for the past 8 years. For most of the time I wore the fortnightly ones that you wash each night and reinsert in the morning, and they generally worked fine. But 3 years ago, I heard about the ones that you just leave in for a month, and I was super keen to try them. No cleaning, no putting them in and taking them out every morning and night, no hassle if I wanted to stay over at someone's house and didn't have my case or cleaning fluid with me - I'd be like a normal person, with normal vision!

After a few happy months of wearing them, I went on an interstate trip, staying in a hostel in Melbourne. On my second day I came down with a splitting headache that just wouldn't go away, even with paracetamol, so I decided to take out my contacts and wear my glasses for a while. No improvement. Woke up the next day and could barely get out of bed, I was in so much pain, I couldn't see very well, and I was extremely sensitive to light. I wrapped a scarf around my head and stumbled out to reception to ask if there was a doctor nearby, and I was in luck - Australia's biggest (only?) eye and ear hospital was two blocks away! So I fumbled my way there, still with the scarf covering my eyes, looking like a right weirdo, found the emergency room, and after an hour of intense pain, made it in to see the ophthalmologist.

The basic gist of what I was told: anything that stays in your eye for a month is ridiculously prone to getting infected. Also, little bits of dust etc can get in between your eye and the contact and scratch your eye, which is not fun. By far, the safest option is daily disposables. They're thinner, so they let in more oxygen to your eyes; softer, so they're more comfortable; and they stay moist more reliably.

So yes, dailies. After that fun little jaunt, I will never wear anything else.

I currently wear CBA Vision AquaComfort Plus Dailies, but whatever dailies your optometrist/ophthalmologist recommends are probably fine. The main issue you're going to encounter with dailies is figuring out whether they're inside-out or not. My contacts are tinted slightly blue, which makes it much easier to figure that out when you're holding them on your finger.

The only times my contacts have fallen out are:
- while doing push-ups;
- while swimming; and
- while doing something unusual with my hair (probably because I'm trying to keep my head straight and look a long way to the left/right, if that makes sense).
So just keep a spare contact or two in your bag if you're planning on doing anything like that.
posted by lovedbymarylane at 1:29 AM on June 16, 2011

I also have a slight astigmatism, and I wear Acuvue lenses. They are very comfortable. In Texas, prices for contact lenses vary widely, and I've found that WalMart is the cheapest by far for Acuvue -- and they fill prescriptions from any optometrist/ophthalmologist. This varies from state to state, but it's worth calling around and finding out.

Use caution if you take guster4lovers' approach. I did the same thing, and wound up with corneal neovascularization. There was no discomfort, and was only spotted during a routine exam, but the doctor did say it was about to make me blind. The swelling in my cornea was deteriorating my vision, and the vision is just now (years later) back to normal, although the vessels themselves never go away. It's not something to mess around with.
posted by Houstonian at 1:32 AM on June 16, 2011

I have relatively mild astigmatism too (though obviously severe enough that I need toric lenses) and I wear monthly disposables - the kind you take out at the end of the day, rinse in solution and keep in a case, not the ones you leave in all the time. I've had them for almost a year now, and have had nothing but good experiences. The torics are thicker than normal lenses, but after the first few days they've been perfectly comfortable, and the only times I've really felt them as 'something in my eye' have been the couple of occasions where I've taken a week or two out of wearing them for whatever reason, and my eyes have needed a day or so of wear to re-acclimatise.
posted by emmtee at 2:54 AM on June 16, 2011

I'm not a fan of the dailies, because they're too thin for me to be able to put in effectively.

I have very dry eyes, and have been told the best ones for me are Acuvue Oasys (one toric, one regular).

I recommend going to a good eye doctor and talking to them about what your options are. In 10 years, contact lenses have changed a lot.
posted by jeather at 4:24 AM on June 16, 2011

I recently switched to Acuvue Oasys and find them much more comfortable than other (disposable or non) contacts. They're made of silicone hydrogel, which allows much more oxygen to your eyes than regular plastic and is supposed to reduce the risk of some of the complications mentioned above.
posted by hydropsyche at 5:37 AM on June 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

I love dailies because they are so very thin. I have to look at something far away to tell if mine are in. (Can I see that object or not? It looks pretty crisp, my contacts must be in!)

Your eye doctor should be happy to give you a week each of different brands for free, so there's really no downside to trying them. I wear 1-Day Acuvue Moist (no torics).
posted by anaelith at 6:07 AM on June 16, 2011

I wear Oasys but the biggest difference for me was switching from Renu to AOSept/clearcare style peroxide cleaners. With Renu I thought I couldnt comfortably wear contacts; now I do daily.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 6:28 AM on June 16, 2011 [4 favorites]

Yes, go to an eye doctor. They'll give you several samples and should be able to recommend something that would be good for your particular combination of vision issues, eye dryness, etc.

I've been wearing contacts for 20 years, and daily disposables for the last 7 or 8 years. I love them and find them much more comfortable than the two-week ones I used to use. They have a higher water content and are thinner so they're harder to feel. I can't even tell I'm wearing mine at the moment, other than the fact I can see. I'm currently using Ciba Vision Aqua Comfort Plus.

fwiw, my eye doctor told me that she finds her clients who wear contacts are MORE bothered by eye touching than her clients who don't. I can't stand to have people touch my eyes and that exam where they measure eye pressure with the thing that TOUCHES YOUR EYEBALL totally freaks me out. However, I have no problems putting in my lenses! To put them in, I need to look in a mirror and focus on the distant reflection of what I'm doing. If I actually look at the lens as I put it in, I can't do it.
posted by min at 6:31 AM on June 16, 2011

Contact lens wearer for 15 years now. Contact lens technology is way better now than it was 10 years ago, and I can attest to that. Soft contact lenses are what most people wear (rarely, you'll hear about people wearing hard contacts or gas-permeable contacts). If you can afford it, dailies are probably the best for you because they are the thinnest. (Figure since they aren't meant to be re-used, manufacturers don't have to try to make them "sturdier").

Also, keep in mind that if you have a very high prescription, some of the more frequent replacement options won't be available to you. I've been near-sighted since I was 7 years old, and it has slowly gotten worse over the past 20 years (I'm 27 now). Unfortunately for me, they don't make dailies, or even weeklies, up to my prescription. The latest technology is running behind me as far as my prescription goes, since the manufacturers just don't make their products in a high enough prescription.

Echoing some of the tips for putting in contacts; don't look at your finger/contact as you're going in. If possible, don't even use a mirror. It sounds weird, but go into your eye the same way as if you're trying to remove the sleep out of the corner of your eye. And, instead of aiming for your pupil area, aim for the white below your iris (I've found that the whites are much less sensitive to touch). The contact will move to the correct position once you blink.
posted by watch out for turtles at 6:37 AM on June 16, 2011

I think Acuvue Oasys kind of suck. I'm the only one I think. I've tried the 2-week ones. An optician had me try 4-week lenses from a different manufacturer which I totally loved! I can't afford new contact lenses right now, so I didn't buy then, and I can't remember what brand it was that they had me try, but there are super excellent awesome contact lenses out there for everybody these days. Go try a few!
posted by krilli at 6:45 AM on June 16, 2011

I'm very near-sighted and have some level of astigmatism, and I've been wearing Acuvue 2s for probably the last ten years. I was used to wearing glasses and they were hard to get used to at first -- the touching the eyeball, the fact that I could feel them on my eyes -- but I bet I got used to them in a few weeks and am so glad I toughed out the squicky part. I generally wear them for 4-6 weeks at a time or until I remember to change them and haven't had any trouble at all. Good luck!
posted by jabes at 6:58 AM on June 16, 2011

You are not the only one who hates Oasys, krilli. They were my first and only foray into wearing contacts and they were soooo uncomfortable for my eyes. I even tried different cleaners (I loved the hydrogen peroxide one best but my eyes were still in pain from the contacts). Now I wish I had tried the daily disposable, but my optometrist seems insistant on only pushing Accuvue products on me.
posted by rainygrl716 at 6:59 AM on June 16, 2011

I use Acuvue Oasys as well. Once you figure out what kind of lenses you like, order them online. The optometrist marks them up a lot! I agree with Houstonian - be really careful of how long you wear them and don't wear them overnight! I had a far less serious issue than Houstonian, but I slept in mine accidentally a few weeks ago and ended up with a corneal abrasion. It was so painful I wanted to gouge my own eye out! One trip to urgent care and all is well, but you don't want that. Believe me.
Last thing, once you do get lenses, use Clear Care Solution! It made a huge difference in the cleanliness of my lenses after I switched from regular cleansers.
posted by fresh-rn at 7:25 AM on June 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

I've had good luck with Air Optix by Ciba. I wear contacts pretty much all the time and can confirm that they have come a LONG way in ten years. I don't care for Acuvues; I find them not particularly comfortable in the eye and like handling wet Saran wrap. Talk to your eye doctor about your concerns and try contacts again.
posted by workerant at 7:54 AM on June 16, 2011

CBA Vision AquaComfort Plus Dailies

In the US, these are called Ciba*Vision AquaComfort Plus Dailies, and I love them. I used to wear monthlies (that you take out and clean every day) and hated the routine, and I got sties. Haven't gotten a sty since I switched to dailies.

At one point I had to wear Torics because one doc figured my astigmatism was just a bit too much to ignore. I couldn't wear those. They were a bit too thick and uncomfortable.
posted by bluejayway at 7:58 AM on June 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

Did you try Focus Night & Day? They are made of silicone and allow much more oxygen into the eye than non-silicone lenses. I was one of the first people in the UK to get them, about 10 years ago. They made a big difference to me because, until then, I had only been able to wear my contacts every other day on pain of cell death. Now I wear the lenses every day, with one day off per week. They are theoretically leavable-in for a month at a time, but I take them out at night.

You can also get them in daily disposables now (Johnson & Johnson), but I find those too expensive. Still, I can't understand why everybody in the world isn't using some version of these.

FYI I am very nearsighted with a mild astigmatism.
posted by tel3path at 8:56 AM on June 16, 2011

I have daily wear lenses and do not recommend long-term wear of any kind of lens. You are more prone to infection that way, and other issues, including corneal neovascularization. Gas permeable hard lenses are good, especially if you're not violently active on a regular basis. Otherwise, look at soft toric lenses for your astygmatism. You will probably see better with contacts than you will with glasses.
posted by Hylas at 11:30 AM on June 16, 2011

nthing that you just need to try out a few (or more) different kinds of contacts to find the ones that work for you. For example, the last time I switched brands I found that contacts were great except during sports like tennis where I had to track a fast moving object. The eye doc took that information and gave me a different brand that fit my eyeball geometry better and things have been great since.
posted by mmascolino at 3:44 PM on June 16, 2011

I started wearing contacts last year, because I have very different prescriptions in my two eyes, and the optometrist thought it was "medically necessary"---that is, that it would help my vision. I wear Acuvue Oasys also, one otic and one regular, for two weeks, using a peroxide cleaner. The other thing the optometrist did was to prescribe some antihistamine drops to deal with allergies. that helps too. On the other hand, it's much more expensive than glasses---the prescriptions are $25/month or so, plus the price of the contacts, which isn't covered by insurance evey year (and unlike glasses, you can't make a set of contacts stretch for two years!).

Your optometrist should let you try several different brands of contacts if you don't like the first time; my sister went through three different brands, and I tried a second brand (although we decided the issue was th allergies not the contacts. )
posted by leahwrenn at 8:18 AM on June 17, 2011

Response by poster: Thank you all so much for the input!

hal_c_on: "Also, how long did you try to wear them (daily for how many days/weeks/months) before you quit?"

I tried them for about six months, but not every day. The original impetus was not wearing glasses for my wedding. I ended up going without glasses or contacts that day, because I couldn't deal with the idea of 18+ hours wearing contacts. After that, I gave up. I do not remember if they were torics or not.

I'm not sure of my current prescription, or the degree of astigmatism. It's been two years since my last exam. I know that both are very mild; I can function just fine without my glasses and even passed my last driver exam without them. But there is a clear difference in the quality of my distance vision with and without glasses.

I'll be seeing my optometrist in a few weeka. I'd been tossing around the idea of trying contact lenses again, but wasn't sure what has changed or improved since my last try. Dailies are definitely an option for me. I know I wouldn't want to do extended wear, nor do I need to be able to wake up with perfect vision. I will definitely take all of these suggestions, particularly for brands, along with me to the eye doctor, and come back to let you know what happens.
posted by Lulu's Pink Converse at 12:37 PM on June 17, 2011

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