Have contacts always been a problem for you, causing irritation or even pain? If so, don’t give up on the prospect of a glasses-free existence just yet. Custom contacts may be able to help.
Custom contact lenses are like normal contacts that have been designed and shaped specifically to fit your eyes. People with moderate to heavy astigmatism as well as those with otherwise misshapen eyes are great candidates for custom contacts. These patients generally report significantly sharper vision and increased comfort with custom contacts as compared to traditional models.
If you’ve been thinking about giving custom contacts a try, take a few moments to learn the ins and outs of how they work and what they have to offer.
Measuring the Eye
One of the first steps in purchasing custom involves very precise measurements of the surface of your eye. Your eye doctor will obtain these exacting measurements with a device called a corneal topographer, which, true to its name, actually maps the surface of the eye by measuring thousands of points on the cornea.
These precise measurements help your eye doctor to understand the unique curvature of your eye and the data gathered will ultimately be used by your contact lens manufacturer to create a lens with multiple curves. As long as the process works smoothly, the custom contacts you receive will conform to each intricacy of your eye, offering a truly comfortable fit.
Types of Custom Contacts
Custom contacts are available in two basic forms: soft contacts and rigid gas permeable (or GP) contacts. Each have their potential shortcomings and benefits.
GP Custom Lenses
GP lenses are also sometimes called hard contacts. Many eye doctors and specialists attest that GP lenses tend to provide sharper, clearer vision on the whole compared to soft lenses. However, some users claim that they are also less comfortable to wear, even when they are custom designed.
GP lenses have a distinct shape in which the edges are slightly tilted upward in order to allow tears to flow behind the contacts when the wearer blinks. This feature provides a healthier flow of oxygen to the cornea, but is a potential source of irritation.
The design also makes it possible for the contact to move around the eye, as its seal against the cornea is not tight enough to hold it in place at all times. Most users contend that it takes a short period of time to get used to the feel of GP lenses while some can’t tolerate them at all.
Soft Custom Contacts
Soft custom contacts, as their name implies, are more flexible than GP lenses. They are exceptionally well suited to correcting astigmatism and have been shown to be more effective than even toric contact lenses, whose main purpose is treating the condition.
Users of soft contact lenses also report a more comfortable feeling in general than with GP lenses. The chemical composition of soft contacts is solely responsible for allowing oxygen to reach the cornea, rather than physical methods.
One of the most obvious disadvantages of custom contacts, other than extra time spent in the doctor’s office, is price. Because they require meticulous measurements and manufacturing, custom contacts can cost about twice as much as normal contacts. However, the increased comfort of a personalized fit may be worth the expenditure.
Since this type of contact tends to cost so much, it places a premium value on the pairs you receive. In other words, ripping or losing one of these contacts will cost much more dearly than losing a regular contact lens would. The good news, however, is that once measurements have been taken, they remain on record and effective until your eyes experience any physical changes.
Depending on the conditions that have caused a shape irregularity in your eyes, such as astigmatism, you may need to receive follow up measurements in the years following your first exam. However, unless pain and discomfort resurface, this repetition is generally not necessary.
Like all contacts, custom contacts must be cleaned and stored properly and worn responsibly in order to maintain healthy eyes. Wearing contacts for longer periods than prescribed by your doctor, including through the night while you sleep, can lead to the harmful build up of proteins and other substances on the lenses. This build up can eventually or suddenly lead to an eye infection or other complications.
If you’ve been wearing glasses for most of your life and have tried contacts in the past with unpleasant results, custom contacts may provide the answer you’ve been looking for. Because they are designed specifically for your eyes, they offer the bare minimum of irritation. On your next visit with the eye doctor, be sure to ask about how custom contact lenses can change your life for the better.