Leonardo Da Vinci is frequently credited with introducing the idea of contact lenses in 1508. Today, there are approximately 125 million contact lens users across the world. The materials used to fabricate contact lenses have evolved tremendously since their introduction over 120 years ago. The first material used was glass, which was replaced with polymethyl methacrylate and finally in the 1960s soft contact lenses made from hydrogel were developed. The silicone hydrogel lenses available today are highly gas permeable and allow oxygen to easily reach the cornea, making them more easily tolerated, less irritating and more comfortable. These tiny discs made from advanced hydrogels serve corrective, cosmetic and even therapeutic purposes. Many people dislike wearing conventional glasses and prefer the clean look of contact lenses. They provide relief from the discomfort that comes with the use of spectacles. Since a contact lens moves with the eye, it gives a wider field of clear vision and doesn’t create distortion. Contact lenses even correct vision problems more effectively than ordinary glasses. They are also convenient for people who regularly play sports. Contact lenses help in conditions such as keratoconus where they dramatically improve vision and can be the only form of therapy. There are special prosthetic contact lenses available that help conceal any disfigurement in the eye. Cosmetic contact lenses change the appearance of your eyes and are available in many different colors to help you make a style statement. It is important to adopt good habits right from the beginning, when you undergo a brief training on how to insert, remove and look after your lenses. Good hand and ocular hygiene are crucial to avoid risk of infections. You should ask your ophthalmologist any questions you may have regarding your contact lenses to ensure you are comfortable and confident using them. In case any irritation or excessive watering develops, discontinue use of lenses and consult your ophthalmologist immediately. While contact lenses provide many advantages over regular glasses, nothing can match laser vision correction (blade free) in terms of convenience and safety.
-Dr SPS Grewal, Grewal Eye Institute.