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All About Vision

Eyeglass Basics

glasses tortishell slide

Modern eyewear serves a dual purpose. In addition to being a vision-correcting medical device used to enhance your safety and quality of life, eyeglasses have become a major fashion accessory. Therefore, when it comes to selecting eyeglasses, there are many important factors to consider.

The Frame

Frames are made from a large variety of materials ranging from acetates and hard plastics to metals and metal alloys. The quality of frame materials is very high nowadays with many cutting-edge manufacturers investing heavily in developing new innovations and materials to make stronger, more flexible, lighter and more beautiful frames.

In considering the optimal material for your eyeglass frame, your lifestyle plays a big role.  Children and those with active lifestyles require durable and flexible frames that are resistant to breaks from hits and falls.  Those who have skin allergies need to seek out frames made from hypoallergenic materials such as acetate, titanium or stainless steel. Other characteristics of frame materials to consider are the weight or flexibility of the material as well as the price. Many designers also use wood, bone or precious metals to adorn frames.

Hinges and nosepads also play an important role in the durability and comfort of your frames. Children in particular can benefit from spring hinges and nosepads which can keep the frames from slipping off. Rimless or semi-rimless glasses are also an option if durability is not a primary concern.

Frame size is a very important factor in frame selection.  Frames should fit well and not slip off the nose or be too tight and press against the temples or the sides of the nose.

More and more top fashion design brands are coming out with designer eyewear collections to suit every taste and style. Frames come in all colors, sizes and shapes so the choices are endless in finding a frame that suits your personal style and looks good with your face shape and coloring.

Lenses

Even though people spend much more time focusing on frame selection, as a medical device, the lenses of your eyeglasses are the most important part.  It is therefore very important that you obtain your lenses (and therefore your glasses) from a reputable source.  It is always best to buy eyeglasses through an eye doctor who is able to check that the lenses are made and fitted properly to ensure your best possible vision.

There are a number of variables to consider in selecting lenses.

If you have a high prescription that requires thicker lenses, you may want to ask for aspheric lenses, which are thinner than normal lenses.

There are lenses that are made from materials that are more durable and shatter-resistant such as polycarbonate or trivex, which can be useful for children or sports eyewear.

Photochromic lenses can serve as eyeglasses and sunglasses as the lenses darken when exposed to the sunlight to block out the sunlight and UV rays.

Polarized lenses create greater eye comfort by reducing glare specifically from the water or snow and are great for sunglasses for those that spend time outdoors.

There are also a number of coating options that you can add onto lenses to enhance certain characteristics such as anti-reflective coatings, anti-scratch coatings or UV coatings to reduce exposure from the sun. Adding a coating may require special cleaning or treatment, so ask your eye doctor or optician about special instructions.

Eyeglasses Over 40

Once you approach age 40, you are likely to begin to experience presbyopia, which is the loss of the ability to focus on close objects. This happens as the eye begins to age and can easily be corrected with reading glasses. However, if you already have an eyeglass prescription for distance vision, you will need a solution that enables you to see your best both near and far.

There are a number of options available for presbyopes including bifocals, multifocals and progressive lenses, with new technology improving the options all the time. You should speak to your eye doctor about the best solution for your individual needs.

Whether they are for a child’s first pair, a second pair of designer frames or a senior with a complicated prescription, you should always consult with your eye doctor for a new pair of glasses. Ultimately, your eyeglasses have a job and that is to help you to see your best to get the most out of every day.

Contacts & Glasses that Enhance Performance

Every sports activity requires a different skill set for success, yet all sports share a critical need for good vision. Geraint Griffiths, a British optometrist, devised a study to determine the effects of visual acuity on sports performance. This study distributed special vision-blurring goggles to Wimbledon tennis players and UK national clay pigeon shooters. Their performance was studied while the goggles were worn. Even though the goggles only blurred their vision a bit, the marksmen and tennis players showed a 25% decrease in accomplishment. This study demonstrated clearly that vision and sports achievement are inextricably linked.

Visual clarity isn’t the only benefit provided by sports eyewear. There are a number of additional eyewear features that boost athletic performance and enhance eye safety.

Protect Your Eyes from Impact-Related Injuries

As reported by the American Academy of Ophthalmology, over 42,000 sports-related eye injuries occur in the United States each year. Approximately 43% of those injuries happen to children under the age of 15. The majority of these injuries can be prevented with protective eyewear, such as safety goggles with polycarbonate lenses.

Regular eyeglasses are designed for daily wear, and they aren’t resilient enough to handle the rough and tumble wear needed for sports. They also provide inadequate protection for your eyes. Contact lenses offer zero protection from sports-related eye injuries. In contrast, sports eyewear is constructed to be highly impact-resistant, thereby granting superior protection for your eyes and removing anxiety about potential eye injuries. Able to withstand the hit of a ball traveling at up to 90 miles per hour, polycarbonate lenses are about 10 times more impact-resistant than regular lenses.

Safety eyeglasses are advised for every activity that has the potential for injuries to the eye. Be aware that the following land sports run a higher risk to eyes: softball, baseball, hockey, football, basketball, handball, squash, racquetball, tennis, volleyball, soccer and lacrosse. In water, all swimming and pool sports require specialized eye gear. Paintball players should also make safety eyewear an essential part of their game.

A Barrier against UV Rays

Harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation can be just as damaging to your eyes as other injuries. A number of eye diseases, such as ocular tumors, macular degeneration, and cataracts, have been associated with exposure to UV rays. Photokeratitis, which refers to sunburn on your eye, is another hazard. This painful condition can cause long-term corneal damage.

Dangerous UV rays are more potent at higher altitudes and also bounce off snow or outdoor water, which increases exposure. It is imperative for skiers and anyone who enjoys outdoor water sports to wear sports sunglasses or tinted goggles that block 100% of the sun’s UV rays.

Some types of contact lenses provide UV protection, yet they only cover the central part of your eye. For this reason, sunglasses that block UV rays should still be worn, preferably in a wraparound style that also covers the delicate tissues surrounding your eyes. Hats with a wide brim will upgrade your protection by further reducing facial exposure to UV rays.

Enhance Your Game with Colored Lenses

Special tinted eyewear may add a winning edge to your game. Depending upon the lighting conditions, it’s not always simple to “keep your eye on the ball”. Hunters favor shooting glasses with amber tinted lenses, which highlight the contrast of birds flying against an overcast, dim sky. Golfers tend to gain the largest benefit from green tinted lenses.

A wide range of specialized tints for specific indoor and outdoor sports are available. These lenses can improve visibility and contrast in a diversity of environments. Ask your eye doctor or optician for more information about which lenses can help raise your scores.

Don’t Let Light Get in the Way

Reflective surfaces, such as a flat body of water, a sandy beach or even light-colored pavement, can disturb your vision with glare. Polarized sunglasses are one effective way to resolve this problem.

Another glare reducer is to add and anti-glare (AG) component to your lenses. At night, sports eyewear with anti-glare will diminish lens reflections when playing under bright lights or spotlights. It’s a good idea to apply anti-glare to the back surface of sport sunglasses in order to decrease the glare that bounces into your eyesight when sunlight hits the back of your lenses.

You can control the light that enters your eye by wearing photochromic lenses. These clear lenses transition automatically into dark lenses upon exposure to UV rays. They also offer 100% UV protection, and return quickly to their former clear state when you go indoors.

Contacts Provide Comfortable and Convenient Vision

Many advantages come along with wearing contact lenses for sports, even if you normally wear eyeglasses on a daily basis:

  • Unobstructed peripheral vision
  • Natural-appearing vision, with no changes in image sizes
  • No fogging lenses
  • Non-slip when perspiring

The best contact lens choice for sports is soft one-day disposables. There’s no need to clean them and you can toss them in the garbage at the end of the day. The flexible, oxygen-permeable material of one-day soft lenses also requires very little adaptation. They can be inserted easily and worn comfortably for a full day of physical activity.

Although contact lenses offer high convenience and comfort, there are still a number of disadvantages with wearing contacts for sports. No protection against eye injury is provided and they don’t offer sufficient UV protection. For ultimate performance and safety, you need to wear quality protective eyewear or sunglasses over your lenses.

Shooting Glasses and Hunting Eyewear

Firearms can be dangerous, and all have some recoil. In addition most shooting occurs outside, where elements such as dust, wind, sun, trees and vegetation can potentially harm eyes. Therefore it’s very important to use eye protection at all times when engaged in shooting activities, indoors and outside.

Generally, sports goggles that you can buy without prescription usually protect your eyes if you wear contacts or don’t need glasses. These goggles usually wrap around your eyes to form a shield against the elements. Make sure to buy goggles with lenses made of polycarbonate, which is the best and strongest lens material available.

Features of Shooting Glasses

Glasses for shooters are specially designed and have several important features. These glasses have more features that the general aviator- shaped frames that are popular. The most important feature is that the frame has a safety rating. Don’t buy any shooting glasses that don’t have such a rating. All of these models have a strong rim which holds the lenses in place. Some glasses have a “sweat bar” that goes along the width of the frame which creates stability for the frame to stay on the face. Other models use padding on the frame around the eyes, which cushions the frame on your face. This protects your face from gun recoil. Additionally, it adds to the protection against the elements.

Glasses for shooting often have temples with spring hinges. This type of hinge allows the frame to move without breaking. Many glasses often include temples that wrap around your ear which helps keep the frame in the correct position on your face. Features that make the frames more comfortable often include soft silicon pads around the nose, which also help to keep the frame in place. Frames may be made out of several different types of materials, including various metals and titanium, plastic and polycarbonate.

Lenses for Shooting Glasses

Shooters have chosen polycarbonate lenses with UV protection and a scratch-resistant coating as their lens of choice for years. Polycarbonate lenses are extremely resistant to impact, and also give a lot of “bounce back” and “blow back” protection. However, there are newer materials for lenses that have been developed recently that are also excellent choices for shooters.

Non-prescription shooting glasses often come with interchangeable lenses. These lenses are used when facing varied conditions of light. If you need prescription lenses, you can order your lenses in various colors of your choice. Shooters often enjoy using orange or yellow colored lenses. These colors of lenses block blue light as well as haze. They also provide a more vivid hue of orange, which is often the color of the target. Bright yellow lenses are good for using in low light, or foggy weather conditions.

A light purple lens is particularly good for seeing an orange target when the background is green trees. Purple lenses are made from a mixture of vermillion and gray. Some shooters like vermilion, because this color helps see where there is a natural outdoor background, and helps the target to stand out. If you prefer a neutral or natural color, gray is the color of choice. A gray lens allows you to see all colors naturally, and are good for using in strong sunshine.

Polarized lenses are available in most colors. Polarized lenses are good for use in the outdoors, as they reduce glare. This is particularly helpful when shooting near water.

Eyewear for Swimming, Snorkeling and Scuba Diving

If you need vision correction, participating in swimming and watersports requires an extra bit of planning. You want to see your best both in and out of the water but your regular glasses and contact lenses aren’t feasible options. Well the good news is, there are prescription swimming goggles and masks available to provide optimal vision in the water and here is what you need to know about them.

First of all, many people don’t know about the dangers of wearing contact lenses in the water. Wearing contact lenses in any kind of water, whether it is an ocean, a pool or even a shower, is risky because bacteria in the water could cause an infection if they get under your lens. Unless you are wearing a mask or goggles that are 100% sealed and don’t let any water underneath, wearing contacts in the water is not recommended. If you do decide to wear contact lenses in the water, it is recommended to discard them immediately upon exiting the water.

Prescription Swimming Goggles

A fantastic solution for swimmers is prescription swimming goggles. These are regular swim goggles with either pre-made or a custom made prescriptions lenses. Pre-made lenses will likely not be fit to your exact prescription needs, but if you select them appropriately, they will be adequate for you to see well for swimming and sporting in the water. Custom made goggle lenses will fit your prescription, although they will be slightly different than your regular eyeglass prescription because of the differences in seeing underwater. Whether you are purchasing pre-made or custom made swimming goggles, you should consult with your eye doctor and/or an optician knowledgeable on the topic to make sure you select the optimal lens for your vision needs. If you have astigmatism or another eye condition, you may have additional needs to consider.

Prescription Snorkeling and Scuba Diving Masks

If you scuba dive or snorkel you want to see every detail of the beautiful underwater world. You can achieve this by using a dive mask with a prescription lens. There are a few options for prescription masks. In the first option corrective lenses are bonded or glued to the inside of your mask, creating a second layer. A second option is to purchase a mask in which the entire lens of the mask is replaced with a prescription lens. These can be premade or custom made lenses. There are also now masks that are made with removeable lenses in which you can buy the corrective lens separately and insert it yourself.

You may have to adjust to viewing with a corrective dive mask because the lens might be further from your eyes than you are used to with your regular eyewear.

In general, pre-made prescription lenses on both goggles and masks are cheaper than the custom made options. In most cases, since you are using them for a relatively short period of time, the pre-made options can suffice. If however, you are a serious diver and want to see as clearly as possibly, it may be worthwhile to look into a custom made mask.

Safety and Sports Glasses

Nowadays, sports eyewear tells the world that you are a serious player. It doesn’t matter whether you bat in Little League or skate with the pros, eye gear for sports offers a long list of benefits.

Protective eyewear, such as specialized goggles and wraparound frames with polycarbonate lenses, helps to reduce or eliminate your risk of eye damage. An added bonus is that performance is often enhanced, due to the high quality vision provided from eyewear made for wearing on the playing field.

Eye gear for sports is not merely recommended, but now mandated by many clubs. Members are required to wear proper protective eyewear in order to participate in activities. Once upon a time, kids used to cringe at the concept of wearing goggles, but just like bike helmets have become the norm – sports goggles are now accepted as part of the uniform and regarded as ultra-cool.

Protect Your Eyes from Fast and Furious Sports Action

If you’re still unconvinced about your need to wear protective eyewear for sports, take a look at these scary statistics:

  • Hospital emergency rooms treat 40,000 eye injuries annually, which are sports-related
  • Tennis and badminton are played with objects that zoom at 60 mile per hour or faster. With racquetball, the ball can whizz by at 60 to 200 miles per hours.
  • Activities such as racquetball involve racquets that swing at lightning speed in a confined space where crashes are inevitable.
  • Many sports are filled with pokes and jabs from elbows or fingers. Even basketball is associated with a high incidence of injuries to the eye.

Up Your Performance with Sports Eyewear

Until recently, people with mild to moderate vision correction used to play their games without wearing eyeglasses or contacts. Yet top performance in any sport is dependent upon sharp vision. Eye gear and goggles for sports allow you to compete at your best, with 20/20 eyesight.

Key Features of Sports Glasses

Sports eyewear does not share the same characteristics as regular eyeglasses, sunglasses or industrial safety glasses. Crafted in a variety of shapes, sports eye gear is specialized to suit the specific needs of each respective sport. Many types of eyewear are even designed to fit into helmets worn when playing football, baseball or hockey.

Protective lenses are generally made from polycarbonate, a durable and impact-resistant material that boasts full UV protection for outdoor action. Polycarbonate lenses are also scratch-resistant, which is a valuable feature for many rough sports.

The frames are typically designed from highly-impact resistant plastic or polycarbonate, and they are coated with rubber padding at every point that connects with your face. Some frame styles are contoured to wrap around your face, which provides secure coverage for activities such as hang-gliding, sailing and biking. Non-prescription wraparound shapes are useful for contact lens wearers, as they block your eyes from dust or wind.

Classic handball goggles used to be fashioned as plain goggles with small openings instead of lenses. That style was abandoned once it was realized that the high speed of handballs actually compressed the balls enough to penetrate through the goggle opening and seriously damage the orbital bones around your eye. Modern and effective goggles for handball and racquetball include polycarbonate lenses that protect your eyes.

Importance of a Good Fit

There’s no such thing as one-size-fits-all when it comes to sports goggles. Proper sizing is critical for top-notch function. For kids, many parents may be tempted to purchase larger goggles so that they’ll be long-lasting with room to grow. Yet if the frames are truly oversized, they won’t protect the child’s eyes adequately. Impact or blows to the face or head won’t be cushioned properly.

On the flipside, wearing sports goggles that are too small is just as hazardous. Not only will the child be constantly tempted to take them off due to discomfort, but the eyewear will also disturb peripheral vision. Without a good view of all that’s happening around your child, sports performance will be compromised. Hits from unseen sources on the sidelines are another risk factor.

The fit of sports goggles should be reassessed each year. The eyewear should still feel comfortable and provide proper eye protection. The padding on the interior of the goggles must rest flush with your or your child’s face, and eyes should be centered in the lens zone.

Specialty Eyewear Overview

You may think that you are set with your everyday eyewear, but there are a lot more options than just sun and ophthalmic glasses. Whether it’s water sports, a construction job or even working around the home, there are many circumstances which require specialty eyewear to add extra protection, prevent injury, and improve vision and performance. Here is an overview of some of the different types of specialty eyewear to consider.

Sports Eyewear

Typical eyewear is not made to hold up to the safety and performance standards required for sports and athletic use. Sports eyewear is made of stronger materials and design for ultimate impact resistance and durability. Sports eyewear is also designed for ultimate comfort, fit and coverage to protect from elements such as sun, water or wind. The lenses are also made with impact resistant materials such as innovative plastics such as Trivex or Polycarbonate. Most lenses will also include 100% UV protection, anti-glare and anti-scratch properties to further protect the lenses. Polarized lenses will also aid your sports eyewear to improve vision in outdoor environments. Depending on your sport there may be a specific type of eyewear suited to your needs such as sports goggles, shooting glasses or ski goggles. Speak to your optician about your sport of choice to determine the safest and most effective eyewear for you.

Computer Glasses

If you sit for extended periods of time at a computer or in front of a handheld screen you are at risk for computer vision syndrome, eye strain, eye fatigue, headaches and muscle strain. This is largely because your eyes view a computer screen differently than they view the world around you. Glare from the screen can also exacerbate these issues. Computer glasses are designed to reduce the strain and to create a more comfortable visual experience when looking at your screen.

Reading Glasses

As we approach the age of 40, our near vision begins to weaken – a condition called presbyopia. This can be corrected by wearing reading glasses when reading or doing close work. There are a number of options for reading glasses depending on your vision needs. People with distance vision correction needs may prefer bifocal or multifocal lenses that allow you to see at a distance as well with the same pair of glasses. It is worthwhile to speak to your optometrist to find the best solution for your vision near and far.

Safety Glasses and Goggles

Whether you are working with power tools in construction, mowing your lawn or using harsh cleaning products, there are plenty of household projects and hobbies that can pose a serious risk to your eyes and vision. Whether it is the danger of debris being projected toward your eyes or a chemical splash, safety goggles or glasses should be worn whenever dealing with dangerous materials or machinery.

Specialty eyewear manufacturers are always developing new innovations to protect your eyes and improve your vision during the activities that you enjoy. Ask your optometrist about the specialty eyewear that is suitable for your interests and hobbies.

Eyeglass Frames

Are you in the market or mood for a new pair of eyeglasses? The selection is vast, with many fashionable, attractive pairs of glasses to browse through. How can you narrow down your options and choose the style of frames that are best for you?

Questions to Ask Yourself When Choosing Eyewear

  1. What’s my taste? Do I prefer a bold or subtle expression? Do I favor modern lines, a retro look or more conservative, classic styles?
  2. Where do I plan to wear these frames- at work, in the backyard, or for social outings?
  3. What colors work best with my skin and hair tones?
  4. What are the primary colors in my wardrobe?
  5. What’s the shape of my face?
  6. Do I like my current eyeglasses? If not, then what’s the problem?

Bring this information to your optician when you pay a visit to the eyeglass store, and most of the work will already be done! Your optician, who is highly skilled and an expert in fitting your eyewear will be able to hone in quickly on the eyeglasses that are most suitable.

How to Judge Fit and Comfort

Research conducted by the eyewear industry indicates that women pay more attention to how eyeglasses appear on their face, while men are more interested in how they feel and fit. Yet even if looks are your primary concern, if your eyeglasses aren’t comfortable – you won’t be pleased for long.

To judge the fit of frames when trying them on:

  • Frames should be wide enough for your face and not too snug on sides of your head. The edges of your eyeglasses should extend beyond the sides of your face. This ensures that the temples won’t press in on your head as they rest on your ears.
  • The curves at the end of each temple should go past your ear without pushing down on it. If they don’t, then the temples aren’t long enough.
  • The built-in nose piece or silicone nose pads should fit comfortably and firmly, without pinching the bridge of your nose. Silicone nose pads can generally be adjusted.
  • Your glasses should be able to stay in place when you move your head to and fro. Nod a few times, turn your head right and left, and bend over to touch the floor. Make sure that your glasses don’t slip off.

Is One Pair of Eyeglasses Enough?

Take a look at your closet. You likely own more than one pair of shoes, right? Unless you’re on a very tight budget, more than one pair of eyeglasses isn’t a luxury. Eyewear is a hip accessory, and the same pair may not be appropriate for all parts of your modern lifestyle. Just like your clothing, your eyeglass needs differ for home, work and social occasions.

If owning a solitary pair is enough for you, then choose frames that you love and feel good about no matter what you’re wearing or where you go. These eyeglasses will be on your face constantly, so take your time and pick a style that fits your unique personality and vision requirements.

Lens Options for Eyeglasses

If you thought the trickiest part of choosing a new pair of glasses was the frame selection, think again. You should be putting just as much thought and consideration into the lenses that you select for your new specs.

Here’s why: The quality and type of lenses in your eyeglasses will not only correct your visual acuity, but they will allow you to continue to see your best through various conditions. Whether it is keeping the lenses free from scratches, fog, glare or UV rays, or making them stronger or more attractive, your eyeglass lenses can help to keep your eyes safe and comfortable wherever the day (or night) takes you.

Lens Coatings

Here are a variety of coatings that you can apply to your lenses to maintain optimal vision and comfort and to protect your lenses and your eyes.

Anti-reflective/Anti-glare Coatings

Anti-reflective (AR) also known as anti-glare coatings help reduce the reflections and glare on your lenses, improving your vision and comfort in high-glare environments, and the look of your glasses as well (you can see your eyes clearly without a reflection on the front of the lens). Reflections from the sun, television and computer screens and bright lights (especially when driving at night) can cause eye strain, headaches and difficulty seeing. AR coatings and lenses can reduce this effect, improving your vision quality and comfort in these circumstances.

Scratch Resistant Coatings

Scratches not only affect the smooth look of the surface of your glasses but they can disrupt your vision. A scratch-resistant coating adds an extra layer of protection on the surface of the lens to significantly reduce scratching. This coating is particularly great for kids who may tend to be a little more rough with their eyewear.

Ultraviolet Coatings

Ultraviolet (UV) coatings protect your eyes from harmful UV rays from the sun. This coating can turn standard lenses into UV blocking lenses that can block 100% of the UV light from entering your eyes. UV is linked to the development of a number of eye diseases such as cataracts, macular degeneration and retinal damage.

Anti-fog Coatings

Particularly if you live in a cold climate, you may have experienced walking indoors from the cold and having your glasses lenses fog up completely. This can take a few minutes to resolve and can be dangerous if you are driving or need to see clearly. Anti-fog coatings will eliminate this effect, creating a smooth transition from cold to hot environments.

Lens Options

You may want to go with an upgraded lens to improve the look, strength or functionality of your glasses.

High Index Lenses

High index lenses have a higher refractive index which means they reflect more light than standard prescription lenses. What this means for you, the consumer, is that they can be made thinner and lighter than traditional lenses. High index lenses are particularly popular with those that need a high prescription as they are able to avoid thick lenses, adding comfort and a smoother look, but a higher price tag.

Trivex or Polycarbonate Lenses

Trivex or polycarbonate lenses are impact resistant lenses – a fantastic choice for sports and safety eyewear as well as standard sunglasses and eyeglasses for active types or kids. These lenses also offer full UV protection and are lightweight for optimal comfort.

Polychromatic Lenses

Polychromatic lenses are made with special technology that turns them into sunglasses when exposed to sunlight. The lenses darken automatically when you go outside and return to normal when you go back indoors. Polychromatic lenses can come in a number of tint colors and are great when you need prescription sunglasses but don’t want to carry around or pay for another pair.

Aspheric Lenses

Aspheric lenses use advanced technology to create a slimmer, flatter and lighter lens than standard prescription lenses. While aspheric lenses can improve the appearance of any prescription lens, they are especially beneficial for those who are farsighted since those lenses tend to bulge out in the middle.

So the next time you are in the market for new eyeglasses, speak to your optometrist or optician about the best lens choices for your eyes, your vision and your lifestyle.

Are Contact Lenses a Good Choice for Kids?

Many children who wear glasses want to switch to contact lenses, especially older children who are concerned with their appearance. So, how do you know if and when contact lenses might be an option for your child?

Contact lenses may not only improve a child’s confidence in their appearance but they can also be very convenient for active children who play sports or those who tend to lose or break their glasses.

Yet before you jump to schedule an appointment with the optometrist, it’s important to know that while contact lenses are a great solution for many, they are still medical devices that require care and responsibility. Carelessness with contact lenses can lead to infections, irritation, scratched corneas, pain, and sometimes even vision loss. So if you want to know if contact lenses are a good choice for your child, read below and think about whether your child is mature and responsible enough to take proper care of his or her eyes.

At What Age Can a Child Start Wearing Contact Lenses?

The recommended age for kids to start considering contact lenses varies however it is generally accepted that sometime between 11 and 14 is ideal. Some doctors will recommend them even for children as young as 8 years old who have shown that they are responsible enough to use them. Contact lens use requires good hygiene and cleanliness so if your child shows those traits, she may be ready. Additionally, if he is highly motivated to wear contacts and if he has the support of his parents, this will help in ensuring that the daily regimen is a success.

What is the Process of Getting Fitted for Contacts?

The first step is to schedule an appointment for a contact lens exam with your optometrist. The eye doctor will perform a vision exam and go over the different options for contact lenses, depending on the prescription, the health of the eye and lifestyle and personal preferences. Contact lenses are designed with a number of options including the lens materials used (soft or rigid gas permeable), the replacement schedule (if disposable, how often you replace the pair – daily, weekly, biweekly or monthly) and the wear schedule (daily or extended overnight wear). Often doctors will recommend daily lenses for children because they are thrown away after each use so there is less care involved, less buildup and less risk for infection.

Then the doctor will give a training on inserting and removing the lenses as well as instructions for proper care. Your child will probably be given a schedule for wearing the lenses for the first week or so in order to allow their eyes to adapt. During this time you may have to be in touch with your eye doctor to assess the comfort and fit of the lenses and you may have to try out a couple of options in order to find the best fit.

Purchasing Contact Lenses

As a medical device, contact lenses require a prescription and should only be purchased from a licensed distributor such as an eye doctor. Unauthorized or unmonitored contact lenses can cause severe damage to your eyes that could result in blindness. This is true also for cosmetic lenses such as colored lenses or costume lenses. Any time you are putting a lens in your eye, you must have a proper prescription.

Following are some basic contact lens safety tips. If your child is responsible enough to follow these guidelines, he or she may be ready for contact lens use:

  1. Always follow the wearing schedule prescribed by your doctor.
  2. Always wash your hands with soap before applying or removing contact lenses.
  3. Never use any substance other than contact lens rinse or solution to clean contacts (even tap water is a no-no).
  4. Never reuse contact lens solution
  5. Follow the eye doctor’s advice about Don’t swimming or showering in your lenses
  6. Always remove your lenses if they are bothering you or causing irritation.
  7. Never sleep in your lenses unless they are extended wear.
  8. Never use any contact lenses that were not acquired with a prescription at an authorized source. Never purchase cosmetic lenses without a prescription!

Contact lens use is also an ongoing process. As a child grows, the lens fit may change as well, so it is important to have annual contact lens assessments. Plus, new technology is always being developed to improve comfort and quality of contact lenses.

Contact lenses are a wonderful invention but they must be used with proper care. Before you let your child take the plunge into contact lens use, make sure you review the dangers and safety guidelines.

Forms of Macular Degeneration

There are two forms of macular degeneration, dry (non-neovascular) or wet (neovascular). The term neovascular refers to the growth of new blood vessels.

Dry AMD (non-neovascular)

Dry AMD is the most common form of the disease, making up about 85%-90% of all cases of AMD. It is characterized by blurred central vision or blind spots, as the macula begins to deteriorate. Dry AMD is an early stage of the disease and is less severe than the wet form,.

Dry AMD occurs when the aging tissues of the macula begin to thin out and break down. Tiny pieces of white or yellowish protein called drusen begin to appear, which are thought to be deposits from the macular tissue as it deteriorates. The appearance of these drusen are often what leads to a diagnosis of AMD during an eye exam.

With dry AMD vision loss happens gradually, however, the dry form can progress to wet AMD rapidly. There is currently no cure for dry AMD, however there is research that shows that some people can benefit from supplemental vitamin therapy including antioxidants, lutein and zeaxanthin.

Wet AMD (neovascular)

Wet AMD is less common occurring in only about 10 percent of those with AMD. AMD is classified as Wet AMD when abnormal blood vessels begin to grow under the retina and leak fluid and blood into the macula, resulting in blind spots and a loss of central vision. Wet AMD can cause more damage to vision and permanent scarring if not treated quickly, so any sudden blur in vision should be assessed immediately, especially if one is aware that they have AMD. Usually vision loss happens faster and is more noticeable than in dry AMD so the quicker it is treated, the more vision you can preserve.