Should I get contacts after wearing eyeglasses for 20 years?
October 5, 2016 1:35 PM   Subscribe

I've been wearing eyeglasses for the past 20 years or so, and I'm tired of them. However, I'm on the fence about getting contacts – any tips or thoughts would be appreciated.

I wear eyeglasses on a daily basis, all the time, because I'm nearsighted (and myopic, from what I've been told). I'm tired of eyeglasses - they're in my way sometimes, and I'm always nervous about dropping them and shattering the glass by mistake. Not to mention that they're expensive.

I took a look at my insurance (United HealthCare Vision, with the federal government plan), and it's showing that for a $10 materials co-pay, I'd get up to 4 boxes of disposables (depending on the prescription) for covered disposables, as well as fittings and evaluations being covered in full. How long does 4 boxes of disposables last? Would you say that contacts are more or less expensive than eyeglasses? If I'm going to stick with eyeglasses, I would need to get new everything (frames + lenses).

I'm also on the fence because of the following reasons:

a) Dry eye – I heard this was common with contact lenses. Is this based on old technology?
b) I'm very sensitive to movements near and on my eyes. I can probably manage, but I get extremely squeamish when other people put their fingers/other items near my eyes.
c) Dirt on contact lens? The thought of putting a foreign object in my eye makes me a bit nervous.
d) Would contact lenses solutions be expensive, and have to be replaced over time?

I'm generally unclear of whether or not contact lenses/solution would be more or less expensive over eyeglasses, over time, and if it's a good idea for me to pursue.

I also have had issues with numerous eyeglasses I received being wacky, having a fishbowl effect, etc., and having to go through strenuous replacement processes. I don't want to go through that again, but I'm not sure if contacts would have the same issue? I don't know offhand the details of my vision (PD, etc.), but I'm not sure if that'd make a difference. I also am considering LASIK, but that's an entirely different subject/thread, and something to think about for the long-term.

I could ask all those questions at the local store, but as I'm deaf, it'd take a very long time going through the back and forth, and Ask Metafilter has been very helpful in the past answering similarly-themed questions I asked.

Any insights or ideas/tips would be very helpful! Thanks.
posted by dubious_dude to Health & Fitness (43 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Would you say that contacts are more or less expensive than eyeglasses?

How much do you generally pay for your eyeglasses and how frequently do you have them replaced for a stronger pair?
posted by griphus at 1:47 PM on October 5, 2016

I got contacts maybe 10 years ago after wearing glasses for 15 years or so. I'm so glad I did. I don't have any issues with dry eyes. It might cost a bit more, depending on how often you replace your eyeglasses. They also have contacts that you can sleep in now, so you don't have to worry about taking them out every night. Per my doctors recommendation, I take them out for about 1 night per week. This leads to one of my favorite benefits of contacts - being able to fall asleep under the starts while seeing the stars.

FWIW, I'm nearsighted with some astigmatism.
posted by bajema at 1:51 PM on October 5, 2016 [1 favorite]

It's hard to answer if they are going to be more expensive because it depends on a few factors:
- Are you comparing the cost of the full replacement of glasses (frames AND lenses) to the annual cost of contacts? Or do you plan to keep your frames and just replace lenses if you stick with glasses?
- Are you comparing the cost of glasses to daily disposables, weekly disposables, monthlies, etc? These all vary quite a bit in price. Daily disposables are the most expensive though I couldn't recall exactly how much they are.
- Similarly, it's hard to say how long 4 boxes of disposables would last because it depends on if we are talking dailies, weeklies, etc. It also depends on if we're talking about a box of 30 or 90. I have gotten both in the past.
- The price of contact lens solution really varies a lot depending on brand and how much you use. Obviously daily disposables will need far less solution since you don't need to store and rinse them every day.

I wear glasses 90% of the time but I do have daily disposables that I wear on occasion when I want to change up my look or when glasses are just a pain in the ass (during sweaty sports, when swimming, etc). Also sometimes I'm just freaking TIRED of having something sitting on my face. I like the variety.

Yes, technology has really improved for dry eyes. I have extremely dry eyes (like, shock-my-doctor dry) and have had really good luck with Acuvue Moist daily disposables.

Another thing I like about contacts is that there's less BS to go through in terms of finding a pair that works. With glasses you have to find frames you like, that are comfortable, that will support your lens RX, and are in your price range. With contacts, you do have to get fitted and sometimes it can take a while to find a pair that's comfortable but they never go out of style so you don't have to try on a zillion new models every few years.

Oh, another weird variable is that in my experience, contact lens prescriptions are good for two years while glasses RX are good for only one year. So I can get away with not having an eye exam every year if I just want to buy more contacts. So in that regard, contacts may be way cheaper if you find yourself going through glasses in less than 2 years. I am clumsy and tend to scratch or break my glasses a little too quickly.
posted by joan_holloway at 1:51 PM on October 5, 2016

I've got a moderately-weird prescription and find contacts easier to get right than eyeglasses. You do still need to maintain a recent-ish pair of eyeglasses if you're wearing contacts, though. Most people take the contacts out at night, so if you're doing anything that requires you to be able to see clearly in the evening or morning, you'll want glasses for that. I cheap out on eyeglasses and get them online (see many previous Asks about all the places you can get glasses online), which helps a lot with the vision budget.

Some disposables are meant for daily or weekly wear, some are meant to be replaced monthly. What options you have depend on what prescription you have and what you're willing to pay.

a) Many people's eyes are more sensitive to dust/wind/smoke/etc while wearing contacts than otherwise. It's good to keep eye drops handy for these situations, but it's usually not that bad. Some kinds of contacts are worse for this than others (soft contact lenses, what most people wear, are more forgiving than rigid gas-permeable "hard" contacts.)

b) I don't like anybody else putting stuff near my eyes, but I'm fine with my own fingers. Your mileage may vary.

c) Make sure your hands and contacts are clean before you put them in. The routine does get easier with practice.

d) Contact lens solution is a recurring expense. I stock up when it's discounted at Costco. My optometrist has surprisingly good prices on the stuff as well if I want to buy from them. I do not recommend reusing solution day after day. Graywater is not a good thing for your eyes.

The exam is usually a bit more than what a regular exam for eyeglasses only would cost, but you'd get a new prescription for your eyeglasses at the same time, so it's not like you need two separate exams. The optometrist will almost always supply you with free sample contacts until you decide which brand works for you. If you come to the conclusion that you don't want contacts after all, I don't think there would be any charge at all (and you can keep going as you were with eyeglasses only.) So if you're curious, it's probably worth at least trying it out, depending on how tight your budget is.

One other tip about putting contacts in: if you're astigmatic and will be wearing toric lenses, look for the tiny line on them that marks "down". Make sure that line is pointing down when you put the lens in. It saves a lot of time waiting for them to settle so that you can see properly.

Don't ignore the suggestions to keep your hands and contacts clean, and if you experience irritation, you should take the contacts out at least until your eyes feel fine again. Your corneas deserve good care! Be kind to them.
posted by asperity at 1:55 PM on October 5, 2016 [2 favorites]

d) Yes. But cost might end up being cheaper depending on what kind you go with and how expensive your glasses are now. Generally more convenient (sleep-in, etc) -> more expensive
c) Dirt is a longshot; they resist fingerprints, etc. But you will sometimes get an eyelash or hair behind them which is annoying and uncomfortable.
b) You'll almost certainly get used to it. When I first got contacts (young, probably 12), the person at the optometrist's office probably just about gave up on me. I haven't worn contacts in two years and i could probably still poke my eyeball without flinching if I wanted to.
a) They've gotten better, but I never had this problem, before during or after.

One less-advertised advantage: no crying when chopping onions.

I got Lasik just over two years ago and wish I had done it sooner. Day and night advantages, even over contacts. Except for the onions. You might get PRK instead if your dry eye is pathologically bad. A consult (at least to determine whether you're a good candidate) is free and usually pretty quick.
posted by supercres at 1:57 PM on October 5, 2016 [1 favorite]

I LOVED contacts. The level of comfort was not even close to comparable contacts vs. glasses - I found glasses annoying and uncomfortable for like 15 years (lying down with glasses on! not being able to see your feet when you shower!) and contacts just. worked.

It will take you a little while to get used to putting them in your eye, but a couple weeks in it will be second nature.

Costs and comfort will vary a lot depending on what kind you get (as said above, there are daily, weekly, monthly, etc. disposables). I wore the ones that you wear 24 hours and loved them - I think they were 2 week lenses but my doctor made me promise to take them out for 1 night in there.

Give it a shot! You can always go back if it doesn't work for you.

p.s. everything is past tense because then after 10 years of contacts I got LASIK and holy crap is that even better than contacts
p.p.s. nearsighted & myopic are 2 words for the exact same thing. nearsighted = myopic.
posted by brainmouse at 1:57 PM on October 5, 2016 [1 favorite]

How much do you generally pay for your eyeglasses and how frequently do you have them replaced for a stronger pair?

About $200-400, depending. My insurance also covers eyeglasses (frames/lens) with co-pays/allowances. My eyeglasses are 2 years old. I generally get a new RX every 1-2 years.
posted by dubious_dude at 1:59 PM on October 5, 2016

I'm no longer up on the glasses vs. contacts price question (and I wear RGP, not disposables, so different price point), but:

1) Presumably your optometrist can answer this question, but I've never had an issue.
2) You'd be amazed at how quickly you can grow acclimated to poking around in your eyes.
3) This depends on how long your disposables should last. If you're supposed to clean and store them each night, then there will be a cleaning regime (including one to remove protein buildups). As others have said, there will be a much bigger Ow if something gets in your eye than you might expect.
4) I spend $9.99 per bottle of Boston Simplus every three weeks or so, but again, I have to clean & store my contacts every night.

I've never had a fishbowl effect with contacts, including when I was wearing soft lenses; RGP lenses do cause more haloing issues at night, though, because of their smaller size.
posted by thomas j wise at 1:59 PM on October 5, 2016

My mom made me wear contacts back in the day and I continued wearing them for a couple years after I moved out. All told, I wore contacts for maybe 6+ years. They were never comfortable for me, and they gave me bloodshot eyes.

So that's my experience with contacts. I stick to glasses. If it's $10 for a 4-month supply, that sounds like a low barrier to entry and you might as well give it a try and see if it works for you.

I usually buy frames at the thrift store and send them off to online lens companies, and glasses last me several years, so in my experience, glasses are also less expensive than contacts.
posted by aniola at 2:06 PM on October 5, 2016

LASIK was the best thing I ever did. My only regret is not doing it 10 years earlier.

I hated contacts, but had to rely on them for 'do stuff outside in the cold' activities like hunting and skiing.
posted by so fucking future at 2:13 PM on October 5, 2016

depending on your prescription you will either have a lot of options or few. for example mine is on the severe end of both myopia and astigmatism so there aren't a lot of contacts i can wear, and the ones i do have are physically thick and aggravate my dry eye situation. but there are some things that just can't be done in glasses so i wear contacts when i have to. i've been wearing them since i was very young due to participation in school athletics, though, and my eyes are kind of tired of having little plastic discs stuck to them. ymmv. i would say to try them and see how you feel, it absolutely can't hurt to have both options available to you, and wearing contacts doesn't mean giving up glasses forever or vice versa.
posted by poffin boffin at 2:16 PM on October 5, 2016

I have dry eyes, and found it very difficult to tolerate contact lenses. The human eye (or at least mine) did not evolve to have a foreign object in it, sucking out moisture all day long in an air-conditioned environment.

That being said, I also have a very high astigmatism, which increased my level of discomfort. I could *always* feel the lens on my eyeball, which from what I gather, is not supposed to be the case. If you wear glasses, your frames hold the lenses in place. With contacts, you may need to try a few brands in order to find the right fit. Once you find the right brand, you could probably order them at a discounted price online.
posted by invisible ink at 2:21 PM on October 5, 2016 [1 favorite]

Okay, I have lots of advice. I started wearing soft contacts as a teenager, and now wear hard (rigid gas permeable) lenses.

But yes, try contacts! You have nothing to lose, there are even often bundle deals for glasses and lenses. Test them out and go back to glasses if you aren't happy. (Most doctors recommend having glasses too, anyway, for backup/emergencies or for when you just want to rest your eyes.) Contacts offer much better peripheral vision, and there is less of an issue with weird distortion or fishbowl effect, because they are directly on your eye and move when it does.

RGPs are something to consider. They offer better vision acuity than soft lenses, and last indefinitely, so they can be more cost effective in the long run. They are a little harder to get used to, and harder to learn to insert/remove. They may not be covered by your insurance (mine only covers "medically necessary" RGPs) but you can order them online for about $35 apiece for my brand, half the price my dr. charges.

On that note, don't purchase any additional/uncovered lenses from your doctor's office. They are always cheaper online, and they are legally obligated to release your prescription to you so that you can purchase from elsewhere, even for your first pair. Many doctors' offices try to convince you otherwise, or claim they need to order the lenses themselves so they can check the fit or prescription. They are lying; you can order for yourself and return for a follow-up if it is necessary.

First, I'd check with your eye doctor, or look up some of the chain stores (e.g. LensCrafters) near you and see if any offer free or cheap eye exams. Often they have deals where they throw in contact lens measurements with a regular exam, or offer some free contacts to try. Usually at an exam for soft contacts, they will have you try on a pair (or several) to check the prescription, and to train you in using contacts, and you can keep those. So that would be a way to try out contacts without investing much money.

If you do decide to try contacts keep in mind that they ways they show you to insert are remove them are, in my experience, totally unrealistic and no one in real life does that. Like for soft lenses, they'll have you coming directly at your eyeball with your finger (which, if you are as sensitive as you say you are, is especially difficult), it's much easier to set the contact in the corner of your eye and slide it into place. And it take a lot of tries and time to get comfortable with the whole process... Don't give up of it's difficult at first. There are lots of other tips out there to check out if you do decide to give them a try.

How long 4 boxes of disposables would last depends on, obviously, how many are in each box, and how long the contacts last, there are monthly, weekly and daily disposables, for example. With daily disposables, you don't have to worry about solution, because you throw them away after wearing. They are probably the most expensive option aside from lack of solution costs. There are many types of solution out there, and most have generic versions, so don't think you have to buy name brand. Personally, I use a generic version of Clear Care, a peroxide based solution, and for me it works better than any regular solution ever did. I've only used it for my hard lenses though, I'm not sure how it is with soft lenses. A large two-pack costs around $10 and lasts about 2-3 months. A nice thing about peroxide solutions is that it forces you to use new solution every time you remove your lenses- don't ever reuse the solution in your case, it can lead to serious infections. Same goes for trying the stretch out the wear time of disposables.
Ok, just some thoughts, sorry this is disorganized, I'm typing in a tiny text box on my phone.
posted by catatethebird at 2:21 PM on October 5, 2016 [2 favorites]

I have a super strong prescription and have worn contacts for 30 years. Sure, I probably spend more on my contacts, but the convenience and comfort is super worth it. Soft contacts rarely have any problems with dust or discomfort. You won't even know they're there.
posted by MsMolly at 2:23 PM on October 5, 2016

I wore glasses for years and years, and when I got contacts, I was mad at myself for not getting them sooner. It's really pretty easy, a little more expensive for me (but my optical insurance is not good), and you can do things like... wear cheap sunglasses and still see! Walk in the rain and not have stupid raindrops on your glasses! Walk inside from a cold outside and not have fog! Wear regular-sized safety glasses! (a big one for me, I need them for work). Anyway , it's worth a shot. If they don't work for you, you go back to glasses and not much is lost.

Good luck!
posted by Fig at 2:33 PM on October 5, 2016

Daily disposables are quite expensive, but they are the only kind I'm considering (haven't made the switch yet) because I am sloppy. As in, can't be bothered to be careful about hygiene. I mention this because there is more than financial cost associated with contacts. There is also the time and attention cost of the careful care required to maintain clean lenses so you don't get a nasty infection or go blind. Like, tap water should never touch contacts. You should never reuse your contact solution, etc.

OP, I'm sure you are responsible, smart, and completely able to stay on top of the cleanliness thing. But I'm not. And apparently I'm not the only one. "Contact lenses are worn by 41 million Americans and 99 percent of wearers do something that could cause an eye infection. Studies show most people don't think twice before sleeping in lenses, reusing contact solution or even swimming in their contacts. But a new study shows you should think, because many of those infections are serious." So be safe!
posted by Bella Donna at 3:39 PM on October 5, 2016 [1 favorite]

I have contacts for sometimes movies and otherwise mostly swimming. I used to wear them daily but find I really hate wearing them in front of a computer screen and I have dry, sensitive eyes. My monthly lenses, when used 6 days a week (I always take a day off), cost about 10$/month each eye; my dailies would cost about a dollar a day each eye and I am thinking of switching next time I get my eyes checked. Contact lens solution is inexpensive.

I am pretty careful about sleeping in lenses, reusing solution, cleaning my hands and the case, not showering in lenses. I do swim in my lenses, but don't open my eyes underwater. I also throw out lenses after 10-14 days of swimming. I've never had an infection.

One box of monthlies usually has 6 lenses in it, so 4 boxes is likely to last you a year.
posted by jeather at 3:47 PM on October 5, 2016

Costco is a good source for low cost prescriptions and contacts. They will also give you a FREE SAMPLE so you can evaluate your prescription and ease of use.
posted by bq at 3:59 PM on October 5, 2016 [1 favorite]

Don't get any kind of contact lens that you wear overnight. Corneal ulcers become a much larger risk if you do that.
Your eye may feel dry at first, but most people's eyes adjust to the contact and get a bit wetter to compensate. If you have an astigmatism, your contacts may be more expensive as the lenses have to be shaped in a more complicated way.

With it only being $10, I'd do it and give yourself a chance to see if you like them. Contact solution is inexpensive and you probably need to get some rewetting drops in case your eyes get dry or to wash out dust or debris in your eye (an occasional issue if it's windy or whatever). You get used to putting them in and taking them out, it's not painful of uncomfortable. Get soft lenses, they're much more comfortable overall.
posted by quince at 4:00 PM on October 5, 2016

I started with hard lenses in the late 1960s, eventually switched to RGP (rigid gas permeable), which (with the exception of a brief trial with soft lenses in the 90s) I wore until about 10 years ago. For reasons not relevant here, I've been wearing glasses since. I have an eye appointment in a couple of weeks and I can't hardly wait to go back to contacts and be rid of all the glasses-related annoyances. Note: I will get RGP lenses. I did not like soft lenses because they didn't provide the same level of clarity as RGPs.

Re your specific concerns:
  • dry eye: at the end of a very long day, e.g., wearing lenses 18+ hours, my eyes might feel dry, but this wasn't a huge problem for me.
  • issues re sensitive/squeamish: as with most things, exposure will desensitize you.
  • dirt on lenses: "The thought of putting a foreign object in my eye makes me a bit nervous." Good—that will give you the motivation to carefully clean your lenses even when you are dead tired.
  • cost of solution: I don't know current prices, but I'm guessing that you're looking at pennies per day for RGP solution.
As I understand things, most people wear soft lenses, which require virtually no adjustment period. However, because they must be replaced so often, they are considerably more expensive than rgps. And if the lenses are designed to be worn more than once, they're more difficult to care for.

Re "contact lens prescriptions are good for two years while glasses RX are good for only one year" (from previous comment): this actually varies by state.
posted by she's not there at 4:35 PM on October 5, 2016 [1 favorite]

I was scared of touching my eyeball when I first started wearing contacts, but I got over it really quickly. And I use the point-directly-at-eyeball method that the optometrist teaches (have to do it while staring straight into a mirror, otherwise my eye moves too much).

That said... I was primary-contacts for a few years, moved back to glasses full-time, and now I buy 2 boxes of daily disposables that I use a few times a year. I have to buy 2 boxes because each eye has a different prescription, which is annoying if you eventually become an infrequent contact wearer. I felt like my eyes were constantly strained and tired at the end of the day after staring at a lot of computer screens and/or being sleep-deprived. (I'm a software engineer so the computer-screen part of my lifestyle is unlikely to change.)

I will say that daily disposables are WAY more convenient because all you need to clean thoroughly is your hands. I started out on bimonthlies, then monthlies, and I could feel the build-up by the last week even though I was diligent about hygiene.

(Also: don't sleep in your regular contacts. Not even naps. Or you may find yourself digging under your eyelid to get the contact out, which is gross.)
posted by serelliya at 4:37 PM on October 5, 2016

If you get contacts, use clear care contact solution, it's more complicated and will burn your eyes if it doesn't neutralize first, but cleans so much better than anything else I've tried. Makes wearing contacts so much more pleasant.
posted by TheAdamist at 4:56 PM on October 5, 2016 [1 favorite]

Like everything, follow the directions and they will work fine. I too see the eye dr at Costco. My contacts cost around $13/month for month-long wear type. He was happy to let me sample various brands until I found the brand and fit that were perfect. My glasses could drive me crazy so I think I was ready to make the switch. I was so eager that I overcame the squeamishness although the first 30 days were crazy, sometimes taking 10 minutes to get them in, dropping one and having to search for it on the vanity, on my hand, finding it in my eyebrow (true!). I laugh now but commiserate with newbies. If you really want them, there is a brand for you.
posted by Lornalulu at 5:00 PM on October 5, 2016

It's impossible to predict whether you'll like contacts, but you can always go back to your glasses if you don't like the contacts, right? So there's no real risk.

Actually it's even less risk than that because you'll have to go to an optometrist to get a contacts prescription -- it's slightly different from your glasses prescription. And every optometrist I've been to has been happy to give me a 2 or 3 day trial supply of a couple of different brands of dailies to try and see which I like best.
posted by pocketfullofrye at 5:05 PM on October 5, 2016

I had contacts for about six months and hated them the whole time. I was about 19 and had been wearing glasses since 13. I just could never adjust to the eyeball touching part. Plus idk if this is the case for you, but I had a very different prescription in both eyes. One time I mixed my contacts up and was blind for 20 minutes trying to get the lens back out. After that I was happy with glasses. It's just too much maintenance for me. Sure, your glasses might break, but it's never hard to put them on in a hurry.
posted by possibilityleft at 5:20 PM on October 5, 2016

Wow, so many different perspectives and advice!

If I'm understanding correctly: soft lens are more expensive, but easier, while hard lens are harder to adjust to, but cheaper? Also, I'd probably be better off with daily disposables, but that'd mean more out of pocket.

It looks like the key problem with contact lens is that some of them feel uncomfortable on the eye, and people who aren't careful can get infections from not thoroughly cleaning, etc., but they are more convenient when doing activities that eyeglasses get in the way of (water activities, for example).

Hmmm... at this point, I'm tempted to just get LASIK! But I know that's not the complete solution, and that comes with its own set of risks, too, and it's not yet proven for long-term, except for the original technology in the mid-90s, and insurance doesn't cover it.

Man, having low eyesight really gets expensive quickly!
posted by dubious_dude at 6:03 PM on October 5, 2016

I switched to contacts about 15 years ago, and would definitely recommend it. I still have glasses that I wear on occasion, but not often. It is so nice not having to constantly wipe the lenses of my glasses when they get smudged / rained on / etc. Plus, contacts are a must for swimming and other activities where glasses just don't cut it (including lying on the couch Netflix binging).

That said, I would highly recommend the daily disposables. That way, you have less to worry about as far as sanitation is concerned, because they go from the sterilized pouch to your eye to the trash, plus you don't have to worry about the mess or cost of contact solution.

I will occasionally get dry eye, especially during allergy season, but at worst I'll just have to switch to my glasses for a day or two until I'm good. Plus, there are eye drops that you can use even while you have contacts in, so that may help.
posted by mingodingo at 6:28 PM on October 5, 2016

Every experience will be different. I will never go back to contacts. (Thankfully I pay 7$ for my eyeglasses, thanks Zenni.)

You really need to try them to see how they feel. Can you just get a sample pair from your eye doctors?
posted by Vaike at 6:36 PM on October 5, 2016

After more than thirty years of glasses, I finally made the transition to contacts. My first try, I could not get used to putting in the lenses no matter what I did--I just gave up. A couple years later, I decided to take another shot at it, and was able to do it.

I use dailies (torics) because even semimonthlies began to feel uncomfortable for me after a few days, despite careful cleaning. The dailies are much more comfortable but also quite expensive. A box lasts a month and they're $30/box (=$60/month). Cosmetically, they are an undeniable improvement, also in convenience. But I often won't bother putting them in on the weekends, unless I'm going out. And I don't usually wear them right til bedtime, but pop them out some time after I get home from work. After twelve hours or so they do begin to make their presence more felt. (I joke that I wear them "for the patriarchy.")

Contact lens solution is one of the few OTC items you can still use FSA funds for, so it costs less than you might think. Also, you can get giant two-packs at Costco.
posted by praemunire at 6:36 PM on October 5, 2016

I've worn both two-week and daily contacts, and I'll just add that daily contacts are way more convenient. You can keep a spare pair in the car, or at the office, etc for those times where one pops out or goes funky. And if one rips upon insertion or removal or falls in the sink (a big no-no to use it afterward IMO) it's no big loss.
posted by JoeZydeco at 6:42 PM on October 5, 2016

A box lasts a month and they're $30/box (=$60/month)

How does that work? If it's $30 and lasts a month, it'd be $30 per month. Or do you mean $30/box per eye?
posted by dubious_dude at 6:55 PM on October 5, 2016

People have addressed other issues above, but one to consider is that it's difficult if not impossible to get as precise a correction with contact lenses as with glasses. If you're a detail-oriented sort like I am, you may find that really annoying.

Soft lenses aren't as precise because they're soft. If you get rigid gas permeable lenses, the correction will be fixed but you'll lose the nearsighted superpower of being able to take off your glasses to focus on really close-up things. (If you don't take advantage of this, it might not be a problem for you. I find myself taking my glasses off several times a day to get a close-up focus on something.)
posted by Lexica at 6:56 PM on October 5, 2016

I have special RGP contacts since my optometrist had me try out corneal refractive therapy. My optometrist suggested this to me because my eyes weren't THAT bad when I started on these (my left eye is about twice as bad as my right so this gave me splitting headaches), but I think you can use it as long as your eyes are better than -6.00.

Anyway, with these, I sleep with them in at night, take them out in the day, and I see 20/10. It's amazing. I had a bit of dry eye at first but got used to it. It also helps that your eyes are closed when you have them in since you're sleeping. I started off wearing them every night, but now, after a couple of years, I can get away with putting them in every 3-4 nights and can get away with not wearing them even longer if I'm not doing much staring at screens. My optometrist just tells me to wear as needed now.

As for cost, I've been using this for around 10 years now and am only on my 3rd pair of contacts (I screwed up my second set on accident by stepping on them. I'm sure if I hadn't, I'd still only be on my second set). They are a bit more expensive each set, but they do last quite a while. My optometrist charged me around $400 a set. I also have a yearly visit to the optometrist just to make sure everything's ok.
posted by astapasta24 at 6:58 PM on October 5, 2016 [1 favorite]

People have addressed other issues above, but one to consider is that it's difficult if not impossible to get as precise a correction with contact lenses as with glasses. If you're a detail-oriented sort like I am, you may find that really annoying. ...the correction will be fixed but you'll lose the nearsighted superpower of being able to take off your glasses to focus

My experience has been just the opposite of this; I see much better with contacts. My contacts were fitted for "monovision", i.e., one lense corrects distance vision, the other corrects for close work. I've heard that some people can't adjust to this, but it's never been a problem for me.

Bifocal contacts are more expensive, so as long as monovision works for me, I'll stick with it.

Note: I wear gas permeable lenses specifically because soft lenses don't provide the same clarity.
posted by she's not there at 7:10 PM on October 5, 2016

Yes, one box per eye. Maybe there are brands that don't do this, but usually you get, e.g, thirty lenses in a box of thirty, not thirty pairs.
posted by praemunire at 7:16 PM on October 5, 2016 [1 favorite]

Very few people have the same diopter for both eyes, so for example you'll have a box of -2.00 lenses for the left and a box of -2.50 for the right (using my prescription as an example)
posted by JoeZydeco at 7:36 PM on October 5, 2016 [1 favorite]

It really is just down to individual preference. I see people here recommending rigid gas permeable lenses, which I wore for ten years and HATED because of their tendency to get dust trapped underneath, plus the expense if I lost one. The day I found out I could switch to soft contacts I was ecstatic and never looked back. I use the soft contacts that are supposed to last for two weeks, but easily stretch that out to a month or more. I've never had the slightest problem with cleaning them, and take naps with them in all the time and have for fifteen years or so. Let your doctor give you a few samples, try them out and decide. Once you've put them in and taken them out a few times it becomes second nature. Or it did for me anyway. YMMV.
posted by MsMolly at 7:37 PM on October 5, 2016

I've been wearing glasses for nearsightedness since I was 14. When I went to college at 17, I switched to disposable contacts, and wore them for about two years. I actually hated them a lot--it was nice to have peripheral vision, but contacts are fiddly, uncomfortable, move around and require adjusting, are an ongoing expense, and require much more planning to deal with on trips and such. I've been wearing glasses again for the past 15 years and I would never go back to contacts. Yeah, you have to wipe glasses (moving to a rainy climate has been eh but I carry around a microfiber cloth and that's that) and prescription sunglasses are an expense, but I much much much prefer wearing glasses.

Also I just like the way I look in glasses.

But really, it's personal preference--no harm in trying contacts for a month and seeing if you like them.
posted by Automocar at 9:07 PM on October 5, 2016 [1 favorite]

Modern contact lenses (as in released during the last few of years) has totally eliminated dry eyes in my case. My optician tells me that many people have the same experience as me. The brand I now use is Dailies Total 1 from Alcon.
posted by Harald74 at 9:52 PM on October 5, 2016 [1 favorite]

Contacts are far more expensive than glasses.
When I was a teenager I'd get a set each year. As I got older, the idea of disposables became more attractive. Disposables are much cheaper and easier now. Solution to clean non disposables is a pain. When you lose or damage a non disposable or even a monthly or weekly disposable it is a pain.
But none of this matters. Your eye doctor will suggest what will work for you. They'll provide you with samples that you can try for a week or two anyway. Therefore don't feel like you're really committing.
They'll tell you the prices for daily, weekly, and monthly disposables. It has been years since I was offered anything but those options. Do the math, consider the cost of solution, and figure out which you can afford.

But importantly - you'll still need glasses! I only get a new pair of glasses once every 5 or 8 years and it doesn't perfectly match my prescription, but I wear my glasses at night, if I'm home all day (the contacts are expensive) and when I am sick. If your prescription changes a lot this might be a consideration. I'm fine with wearing slightly older glasses around the house but I don't love reading or driving with them.
posted by k8t at 11:44 PM on October 5, 2016

Oh my current prescription comes in boxes of 90. This totally depends on the brand.
posted by k8t at 11:45 PM on October 5, 2016

I loved my contacts, and I still have daily disposables that I wear for exercise and summertime outdoor activities (so I can wear cheap sunglasses, which is a great freedom!). But even with modern lenses I find I can't wear them in front of a computer all day the way I used to. I get dry eyes, bloodshot eyes, and it's deeply uncomfortable. But for years in my 30s they were the main thing I wore every day.

So give them a try! It's not a huge expense, and if they work for all of your purposes you don't even have to get new glasses, you can just wear the old ones at night.
posted by ldthomps at 8:56 AM on October 6, 2016

Another RGP wearer. Since I was in high school - and I'm well into my 40s now, so I guess about 30 years. The brand name I get is Boston. A pair is about as expensive as glasses, but I've kept the same pair for years at a time. There are a couple different solution options but I stick with the conditioning solution and cleaner - each is around $10 at Target, slightly more at some other drugstores around me, and lasts about 2 months. But the care is really pretty easy - at night I take them out, put a few drops of cleaner on them, rub each in my palm with the cleaner for a few seconds, rinse with water [I noticed someone above said tap water shouldn't touch lenses, but I gotta say, this is what I was taught to do as a kid and I've been doing it ever since with no problems] - then into the case with the conditioning solution where they sit overnight. (There's a different, all-in-one solution that does both soaking and cleaning - I tried it, it was ok, but I found I went through it so much faster than the others that I don't think it was cheaper in the long run.)

I can take short naps with the lenses in with no issues, but a real sleep for any length of time is not a good idea. Sometimes if some piece of dirt gets in my eye it seems harder for my eyes to flush it out than it would be for a non-contacts wearer. If I'm at least anywhere near a decent bathroom when that happens I can pop the lens out, rinse it and put it back in. A few times though I've had to tough it out for a while (like on the bus), until either I arrived some place or my eye finally flooded with enough tears to dislodge the problem. It's annoying when it happens but to me at least it doesn't happen often enough to ever make me think of switching to glasses.
posted by dnash at 11:43 AM on October 6, 2016

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