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University of South Florida

Eye Opening Options: Contact Lenses

Leonardo da Vinci is credited with developing the first concept of contact lenses and being the first to illustrate them in 1508. It would not be until the late 1800s that scientists began experimenting with this idea of a contact lens.

The first contacts were made to cover the entire eye, and the materials used to create contacts have evolved from heavy glass to plastic to a soft gel like plastic, making contacts more comfortable, affordable and easier to care for.

Dr. Richard Weisenberger of the USF Health Eye Institute said “If you have previously had trouble with contacts, or have never tried them there are many lens options today that have the potential to produce functional vision and improved quality of life that glasses may not provide.”

If you think your vision doesn’t qualify you for contacts, think again! Contact lenses can correct even the most challenging of prescriptions, including astigmatism, bifocals.

“Contact lenses are a viable option for those who may not believe they are candidates,” Dr. Weisenberger said “A properly fit contact lens has the ability to deliver that freedom from glasses that many desire. Contact lenses are not just for those with basic near/farsighted prescription but also for more difficult prescriptions arising from corneal disease, such as keratoconus, corneal surgery, trauma, and many other ocular conditions.”

Seeing is believing

Contacts offer a better view of the world because they sit on the curvature of the eye and provide excellent focus. Approximately 45 million people in the United States choose to wear contacts. Contact lenses are a lifestyle choice that give us the freedom to pick and choose how we experience and view the world around us.

Is my child ready for contact lenses?

Caring for contacts and practicing good eye hygiene are essential to maintaining healthy eyes. So what is the best age to start wearing them? The recommended age for a child to be introduced to contacts is between 11 and 14. The real issue is not age but the ability of the child to wear and care for their lenses correctly. The transition from eye glasses to contacts can have a transformative effect in a young person’s self-confidence, but they are not recommended for everyone. Together, your eye care provider and you can assess whether your child is a candidate and for contacts and if they are ready for the commitment.

Buyer Beware

Beware, over the counter decorative contacts pose a threat to eye health. Eye care providers and the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) discourage purchasing contacts from drug stores, costume shops, online stores, and anywhere where contacts are sold without a prescription. Without a proper fitting from an eye care provider these lenses will not fit correctly exposing the eyes to scratches, ulcers and infections, which can consequently produce permanent vision impairment or loss.

To find out if you or a family member are candidates for contact lenses or to book an appointment with a board-certified ophthalmologist, visit USF Health Ophthalmology Contact Lens Low Vision experts.

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