Contact lenses – are they comfortable?

08 Aug

Are contact lenses really comfortable?Contact lenses on a finger

Ask yourself this question.  Are your contact lenses substantially less comfortable at the end of the day when compared to when you put them in?

If you are like most people, the answer is yes.  More than 80% of patients experience end of day discomfort, dryness or irritation with their contact lenses. In fact, discomfort is the number one reason my patients give up contact lenses.  Nearly half of patients who give up on contact lenses due so because of poor comfort.

 A Brief History of Soft Contact Lenses

Soft contact lenses have been commercially available since the early 1970’s.  Since that time, every contact lens was made of a single repeating structure called a monomer. Early contact lenses transmitted very low amounts of oxygen to the eye and required lots of maintenance.  Eye infections were all too common. This pushed scientists to seek out new monomers that transmit more oxygen to the surface of the eye in an effort to reduce infection rates.

By the late 1980’s materials made with newer monomers improved oxygen flow to the eye, but patient comfort problems are still highly prevalent.  Part of the problem is that newer materials are more breathable, but often less smooth and they can dry out much more easily.

No monomer has been discovered that is highly breathable and can resist drying out.

In the mid 2000’s daily disposable contact lenses came on the market.  With a need to be comfortable for just one day, scientists could add coatings to the lens to help resist drying, but often these coatings would wear off before the end of the day resulting in late day discomfort.

The Future of Contact Lenses – has just arrived!

Over the past decade more than 100 scientists have been quietly at work developing and perfecting the first dual-material contact lens.picture of contact lens box  This lens has a highly breathable core sandwiched inside a second material that provides nearly 100% water at the surface and does not dry out. You can think of it like laminate countertops.  The strong but rough inner material has a smooth outer surface bonded to it.

This new daily disposable lens is ideally suited to anyone who is suffering from consistent contact lens discomfort or has given up on contacts because of poor comfort.  Called the Ciba Dailies Total 1, this lens has the highest breathability score of any daily disposable and the highest surface water content as well.

The Dailies Total 1 also has the lowest friction of any contact lens, which means when you are blinking the lens does not irritate the eye. This low friction level is maintained even after 14 hours of wearing.

Do people actually like the Dailies Total 1 better?

When patients compared this lens to the lens they typically used, they preferred the Dailies Total 1 13 to 1.  This is an astonishing number.  It means for every 14 people tested, only 1 preferred whatever they were wearing to the new lens. When asked about end of day comfort the average wearer ranked the lens a 9.2 out of a possible 10.  That means the lens was essentially perfectly comfortable even after 14 hours of wearing.

Are there any downsides to this new technology?

As with any new technology, there is always a chance that unforeseen complications can arise.  The FDA has approved this lens as safe however.

The complexity of manufacturing this dual material contact lens does make it more expensive.  Figure about $2.15 per day to wear this lens.  At Spectrum Eyecare, we provide 5 pairs of trial lenses as a part of the refitting process so you can be sure this lens is right for you.

Since the lens is just being released, the available parameters are currently limited to the most common prescriptions.  If you have astigmatism, are farsighted or need multifocal contact lenses, unfortunately you will have to wait before being able to take advantage of this new technology.

In summary, if you have given up on contact lenses, or are suffering in silence with uncomfortable lenses, consider trying the new Dailies Total 1, the biggest contact lens advance in twenty years.

 

Dr. John Henahan is a fellowship trained, board certified doctor of optometry practicing and living right here in Peachtree City with his wife and two sons.  You may call his office at (770) 487-0667 or visit him on the web at www.speceye.com.

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