They don’t fog up over the mask and never slip down your nose – contact lenses can be a brilliant alternative to glasses. But are they suitable for everyone? Answers to the most important questions.
Contact lenses for presbyopia – a good idea?
Absolutely. Reading glasses can also be replaced with lenses . And with those in which only part of the lens optimizes the view for reading. However, it sometimes takes a little patience to find a suitable product. And there is no way around the ophthalmologist or optician. “First the eye must be thoroughly examined,” says the Hamburg ophthalmologist and contact lens specialist Dr. Gudrun Bischoff from the German Ophthalmological Society. Because for a few, these visual aids are out of the question – for example because of certain corneal changes. For others who are exposed to a lot of dust at work or who spend a lot of time in heavily air-conditioned rooms, they are usually not a permanent solution, but only a good idea for sports or going out.
Age alone is no reason to give up contact lenses. However, the following applies to all contact lens wearers: you still have to have glasses ready. There are always situations when lenses don’t work, whether it’s because of a cold or conjunctivitis.
And instead of varifocals: İs that possible?
Basically yes, with multifocal contact lenses. They are available with two separate fields of view (bifocal) or with several visual strengths (multifocal). Unlike varifocal lenses, the different areas of multifocal lenses are usually arranged in a ring. The effect is the same, however, a close-up and a long-distance image are created at the same time, from which the brain automatically selects the sharpest image. Still, it can take weeks to feel confident with varifocal lenses. Often you have to try a layered arrangement instead of the ring-shaped arrangement of the viewing areas. But it’s worth trying: If you learn to see with the special lenses, you can use them to both work on the screen and drive a car. Just studying the menu by candlelight may not work. ”
An alternative to expensive multifocal lenses in middle age is what is known as monovision: One eye has a distance vision lens and the other a near vision lens, and once you get used to it, the brain chooses again completely unnoticed. “This works well if the presbyopia is not very advanced,” says Esther Adam-Pennewitz.
“However, spatial perception is limited – that’s a problem when driving a car.”
Hard or soft: which lenses are better?
Depends on. If you only use contact lenses from time to time, you will benefit from soft ones that hardly cause a foreign body sensation when you first put them on. For long-term wearers, on the other hand, hard lenses have advantages: They take some getting used to, but are easier on the eye. Since they are small and made of very permeable material, the cornea is always well supplied with oxygen and nutrients. However, this advantage has recently been put into perspective. “Meanwhile, there are also very good, soft contact lens materials with high oxygen permeability,” says contact lens expert Dorte Kruger from the Berlin University of Applied Sciences.
Soft lenses are more short-lived and therefore hardly cheaper in the long run. The most durable among them can be used for up to a year. Other types are exchanged monthly or weekly, some are even meant for just one day and are thrown away in the evening. Such disposable or exchangeable lenses are not manufactured individually and are therefore only available in certain versions. However, this is only a limitation if a customer has very specific problems, such as severe astigmatism. The advantage of short-term lenses is hygiene. Since they are renewed so often, germs have little chance. Disadvantage: There is also more waste.
Can I wear lenses if I have dry eyes?
Mostly yes. “Slight dryness can be easily compensated for,” says ophthalmologist Bischoff. In order to find the right lens for this, specialized opticians first have to find out why the eyes are dry. Depending on the cause, other contact lenses will fit. Sometimes soft lenses with moisture deposits are the solution. If the dry eyes are related to allergies, daily lenses are a good option, as there are hardly any eye-irritating deposits that can form on them. You can also use eye drops (“artificial tears”) that contain moisture binders such as hyaluronic acid. But here, too, it is important to first examine the tear film, according to Adam-Pennewitz. If, for example, the tear fluid evaporates too quickly because the tear film lacks fat, lipid additives are important. Anyone who buys wetting drops without such an examination should pay attention to the note “suitable for contact lenses”. Without preservatives, eye drops are generally better tolerated, so contact lens wearers should prefer such preparations.
Is It Okay to Buy Lenses Online?
The first contact lenses should always be fitted by specialists. Because if lenses are badly fitted, for example if they are completely immobile, this can lead to the cornea not being supplied with enough oxygen and being damaged in the long term. Unfortunately, it doesn’t say much whether they feel comfortable. “It’s actually the case that you feel less of soft lenses that are firmly in place than of easily movable ones,” says lecturer Dorte Kruger. If you know your values and the right product, from a purely optical point of view, there is nothing wrong with ordering replacement lenses on the Internet. “But it’s important to buy exactly the same brand,” says Dorte Kruger. Lenses have different properties depending on the manufacturer. An annual inspection is essential in which the eye and the condition and position of the lenses are examined. Ophthalmologist Gudrun Bischoff: “It must be ensured that the endothelial cell layer of the cornea is not damaged by the contact lenses. These cells on the innermost layer of the cornea change due to a chronic lack of oxygen and do not grow back if they are lost.”
This is exactly what accelerates the aging process of the eye: “It can then happen that the cornea becomes cloudy.” In this case, your vision is blurry and you have to see an ophthalmologist for further treatment.