The idea of applying a lens directly to the cornea of your eye to improve vision was first proposed in the early 19th century. The first scleral lenses were used in 1888 to correct optical defects and irregularities. From there, scleral lenses were widely manufactured and used.
Over time other materials were used to make comfortable extended-wear contact lenses and other types of lenses.
Soft hydrogel lenses and rigid gas-permeable lenses were initially used as it was more comfortable. By the 21st century, more manufacturers preferred silicone hydrogel lenses. These silicone hydrogel lenses were the solution for the oxygen needed by the cornea.
There are over 45 million people in the U.S. that uses contact lenses, with the majority of them being female. Softer lenses currently dominate the market. Which made more and more people switch to wearing contact lenses.
Keep reading to find out more about extended-wear contact lenses and whether they work for you.
What Does Extended-Wear Contact Lenses Mean?
You have heard of daily contact lenses that you either need to dispose of at the end of the day or take out for bedtime. With extended-wear contact lenses, you don’t need to take them out at the end of the night. You simply insert them at the beginning of the month and then wear them until the last day of the month.
Most contact lenses that are made for continuous wear are thinner than daily wear lenses as they need to let more oxygen in. Longer-wear lenses need to allow more oxygen into the cornea. If it doesn’t, then you could develop dry eye and vision problems.
Can I Swim While Wearing Contact Lenses?
While these lenses are made for continuous wear, you need to remove them before you go swimming. When swimming without contact lenses, you simply need to blink your eyes to get rid of the water trapped in your eyes. If you’re wearing contact lenses while swimming, the blinking process won’t remove the water.
Your contact lenses act like sponges when they come in contact with water, so the water gets trapped. Pools, lakes, and oceans have microbes and viruses floating around in the water, so if you go swimming with your contact lenses, you’ll be keeping that water trapped against your eyes. This means you are at a much greater risk of contracting an eye infection.
Exposure to water can also weaken your contact lenses which will shorten their lifespan. You also face the risk of losing a contact lens if you go swimming with them, so it’s safer to simply remove them before getting into the water.
What Are the Benefits of Extended-Wear Contact Lenses?
One of the main reasons people tend to go for extended-wear lenses is that they tend to be more budget-friendly than daily-wear contact lenses. Since you need much more contact lenses if you dispose of them after each day, the price tends to be quite a bit higher than monthly lenses.
Extended-wear lenses are also a great option for people with active or unpredictable lifestyles. If you don’t have the time or space to properly care for or handle your lenses when needed, then longer-wear lenses might work for you. Military personnel, emergency, and shift workers tend to go for longer wear contact lenses instead of daily-wear lenses.
These contact lenses are also a better fit for people with binocular vision abnormalities that need continuous vision correction. It is also extremely helpful for people with very bad vision to see clearly at all times, as it can be jarring to wake up without proper vision.
What Are the Risks of Extended-Wear Contact Lenses?
While these lenses are made to be worn day and night, the risk of an eye infection is higher if you sleep while wearing your contact lenses.
Since you’re wearing your contact lenses all the time, there is a higher chance that bacteria and other potentially dangerous microorganisms can get stuck between the lens and your eye. These microbes thrive in this environment as it’s constantly warm and moist, especially when you’re sleeping. Since there is less oxygen reaching your cornea compared to non-contact lens wearers, your eyes are less able to fight off infections of the cornea.
Contact lens-related infections are also a risk you need to be aware of. Wearing contact lenses while having an infection can also prolong the problem significantly. The contact lens will carry the infection, making it spread.
However, if you properly care for your contact lenses and use common sense regarding eye care, you don’t have to worry. Simply make sure your eyes are in good health and take care of your contact lenses. If you’re unsure how to properly maintain your contact lenses, go take a look at this guide on the dos and don’ts of caring for contact lenses.
Extended-Wear Contact Lenses Made Easy
If you’re thinking of trying extended-wear contact lenses, it’s important to do your research. While softer contact lenses are currently the most popular option, it’s always a good idea to make sure it truly works for you. Each person has different contact lens needs, so what works for the majority may not always work for you.
If you are unsure if these contact lenses are right for you, your optometrist will be able to answer any other questions you might have. If you’re looking for an optometrist in the Houston, TX area, feel free to contact EZ Opticals today!