Questions About Contact Lenses

Contact lenses have come a long way. They may seem like a relatively modern thing, but they’ve actually been around a long time. They just weren’t very comfortable.

Since we provide our Portland patients with many pairs of contact lenses, here’s some background and answers to a couple of questions we often hear.

In the beginning

It was Leonardo da Vinci who is credited for making the first sketches of a possible optic placed directly on the cornea to correct for refractive errors. The first actual lenses took awhile to come to fruition from that original vision, pardon the pun. German glassblower F.A. Muller created the first glass contact lens in 1887. These lenses were heavy and covered the entire front surface of the eye, including the white. They never caught on because they could only be worn for a few hours because they severely reduced the supply of oxygen getting to the eye.

California optician Kevin Tuohy made the first modern contacts in 1948. They covered only the cornea. These hard lenses were made of a non-porous plastic, but they moved with every blink, so the oxygen in tears could get under the lens to the cornea.

The soft contact, made of hydrophilic hydrogel, was created by Czech chemists Otto Wichterle and Drahoslav Lim in 1959. Today, hard contacts, which often provide sharper vision than soft lenses, are still available, but over 90 percent of contact lenses prescribed in the U.S. are soft lenses.

Are contact lenses difficult to care for?

When you stroll through a New Seasons Market or local drug store you come across a dizzying array of contact lens solution options. This can seem daunting, but it’s not — caring for your disposable contact lenses is easier now than ever. The next time we see you, ask about all the different contact lens solutions and what options are right for your contact lenses. Otherwise, this is the basic process of keeping your soft contact lenses clean and happy.

  1. Wash your hands with a simple soap. Dry your hands with a lint-free towel.
  2. Remove one lens and clean it with the recommend solution. Cleaning removes protein buildup, cosmetics, dirt, and other debris that will impact the comfort of your lenses. The FDA recommends that you rub the lens in the palm of your hand with a few drops of solution for a few seconds. This applies even if you’re using a “no rub” solution.
  3. Rinse the lens again to remove the loosened debris.
  4. Fill your clean lens case with solution and place the now-clean lens in it. Don’t top off old solution; use only new solution every day. Disinfecting kills microorganisms on the lens.
  5. Now do the same with your other lens.

See that was easy. That’s all you need to do to care for your contact lenses.

Can I sleep with my contact lenses in?

Although some soft contact lenses are approved by the FDA for extended wear, including sleep, most eye care professionals (including the team at The Eye Clinic) agree that it is best to remove them when you go to bed. That gives your eyes a chance to rest, and it ensures your lenses remain as clean as possible. The convenience of sleeping in your contacts isn’t worth the possibility of an eye infection.

Now you’re a contact lens expert. Are you tired of eyeglasses and are considering switching to soft contact lenses? Give us a call and let’s check your eyes and then try a few different options to see how you like them. Call us at (503) 297-4718.

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St. Vincent: 503.297.4718


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