Contact lenses are an increasingly popular alternative to spectacles. There are contact lenses available to suit nearly all visual needs.
Types of contact lenses
There are two main types of contact lens: hard and soft. Both have improved enormously over the last few years. Many of the early problems associated with contact lenses have either been resolved or minimised which means that the vast majority of people can now successfully wear them.
Soft lenses are the most popular type because they are so comfortable. Most people say that within a week they don’t know that they are in their eyes except they can see! Soft contact lenses aren’t only available to correct long and short sight, they can now correct for astigmatism and even where you need a different correction for near and far. Soft lens materials have improved massively over the years – they allow a lot more oxygen through to the eye than they ever used to which makes them much healthier to wear and they often have additives to retain the moisture which makes them much more comfortable towards the end of the day. Soft lenses fit very closely to the eye and more effectively stop fine particles of dust from getting underneath them.
Hard lenses (often called RGP or Rigid Gas Permeable) are generally not as comfortable as soft in the initial stages. Most people say that they are very comfortable within the first two to three months. However, hard lenses do have some advantages over soft: although soft lenses, (when cared for correctly,) are very safe to wear, hard lenses have a better track record as regards eye infections; even standard hard lenses correct moderate amounts of astigmatism very easily; they are available in an extremely wide range of powers and fittings and although the initial cost of hard lenses is greater, they have a long life and solutions are usually more reasonably priced so their long term cost is less.
Don’t be confused by all the jargon…
Daily disposable lenses
These soft lenses are worn for just one day and then thrown away. They offer great convenience, no cleaning solutions are required and are particularly good for part-time wear.
Monthly or two weekly disposable lenses
These soft lenses are around about half the cost of daily disposable lenses when worn every day but they do need to be cleaned carefully with appropriate solutions every time they are worn.
Toric lenses are available in both hard and soft lens types. They correct astigmatism which is a common distortion on (or in) the eye.
Multifocal lenses are available in both hard and soft lens types. They are designed to correct the sight of those people who need a different strength for near and far.
It is possible to get a combination of many of the above (say, toric and multifocal lens types) but these are usually available in less fittings and powers. Your optometrist or contact lens fitter will advise you about your specific needs.
What you can expect from a contact lens assessment at Julian May Opticians
Before you can be assessed for contact lenses you must first have a normal eye examination. If your last eye examination was within the last 12 months (whether at Julian May Opticians or elsewhere) this will usually be sufficient, if not, then it’s probably worthwhile having a new eye examination.
A contact lens assessment begins with a discussion to determine what your requirements are and how these can best be met. Following this, a range of tests are performed to work out which specific lenses would be most suitable.
These tests include:
- A very careful check of the surface of your eyes
- Keratometry to measure how curved the surface of your eyes are
- A tear assessment – quality of your tears is more important for long term comfort than quantity
We will then provide you lenses to try. Very often we’ll be able to supply these from our stock banks but we may need to order them in especially for you first. We’ll check that they fit correctly and give you good vision. We’ll teach you how to put them in, take them out and care for them properly and we will tell you how long you would be able to wear them as a maximum on each day.
We keep close track of your progress over the first few months to make sure things are going as smoothly as they should. Often, small problems can easily be nipped in the bud at an early stage by a change of fit or lens type. Usually we would want to see you about a week or two after the initial assessment, to make sure everything is as expected or make any necessary adjustments.
How long does it take?
The initial assessment usually takes about an hour although you should allow at least another half an hour to an hour to teach you how to put your lenses in and to take them out correctly. Follow up checks usually take about half an hour each.
How much does it cost?
The cost of fitting your lenses including the initial assessment, and any follow up appointments regarding the initial fit would be between £40 and £60 depending on the lens type you require.
Existing Contact lens Wearers
If you’re an existing lens wearer then of course you needn’t have the initial assessment, although if you haven’t had a contact lens check within the last 12 months then you will need one to ensure your current lenses are correctly fitting and are the correct strength. The cost of a contact lens check at Julian May Opticians is £35 although if you join our Contact Lens Care Scheme (see below) your contact lens check will be included in the price.
We deal with all the major contact lens manufacturers (e.g. Johnson & Johnson (Vistacon or Acuvue), Coopervision, Cibavision (Focus), Number 7, Bausch & Lomb, etc) so that if you’d prefer to stick with your current lens type then it’s virtually certain we can supply them.
Contact Lens Care Scheme
Our Contact Lens Care Scheme can be purchased any time after your initial assessment.
For £75 per year (or £7.00 per month by Standing Order) you receive:
- Annual contact lens check and free emergency checks if required
- 20% discount on replacement contact lenses
- 20% discount on contact lens solutions where required
- 20% discount on prescription spectacles, prescription sunglasses and non-prescription sunglasses too(excludes prescription Oakley and Ray-Ban frames with branded RX lenses)