Gone are the days when patients with astigmatism or patients over 40 couldn’t wear contact lenses. I now firmly believe that every single person that is capable of putting a contact lens in their eye can find a contact lens solution that will work with their prescription. The main problem I still have in fitting contact lenses nowadays is dry eye, and advances in technology have improved this as well.
All categories of contact lenses have seen improvements, from soft lenses to hard (gas-permeable) lenses and even lenses in between (hybrid designs). Soft lenses are now available in very breathable materials with advanced surface treatments to promote wetting and comfort. Off-the-shelf parameters have increased and custom-order soft lenses are available in pretty much any desired power, from astigmatism to bifocal/multifocal and in the highest of nearsighted or farsighted powers.
In many cases, daily disposables exist for patients that want the freshness and convenience of a one-day use lens (without the hassle of cleaning them every night). For those patients desiring something more customized and optically stable (particularly for patients with astigmatism), gas-permeable (GP) lenses are now being made so precisely, and in so many new materials, that doctors can control nearly any parameter they want for the most custom-fit lens any eye could desire.
Hybrid designs are improving rapidly; these have the optically superior GP lens center, but with a comfortable soft lens skirt around the edges. This design gives the potential for GP optics, but in a softer, more familiar fit to previous soft lens wearers. For diseased corneas (those patients with keratoconus or other corneal disease or dystrophy), and even for those patients who have normal corneas but desire the most stable vision and sharpest optics available, scleral lenses are the “newest and coolest” contact lenses on the market. These lenses are ultra-breathable, large diameter GP lenses that rest on the whites of the eyes (the sclera) avoiding corneal influence altogether. Lastly, overnight corneal reshaping and myopia (nearsightedness) control lenses worn like retainers only at night offer freedom from contacts and glasses during the day, and even have the potential to slow down the progression of myopic growth in children.
If you’ve ever been told you couldn’t wear contact lenses, now’s the time to ask again. Any eye doctor familiar with these new technologies can recommend a good lens to start with. Your options are only limited by your willingness to try something new and different!