Contact lenses are small, light-weight plastic devices worn on the eye that correct refractive errors in vision. While they appear to be worn in direct contact with the cornea, they actually float on a layer of tears that separates them from the cornea.
People allergic to certain plastics should not wear contact lenses manufactured from that type of material.
Patients with dry eye or severe seasonal allergies may find contact lenses uncomfortable and may prefer eye glasses. A careful patient history needs to be taken by the physician or contact lens technician to make sure these problems are addressed.
Eye care professionals should ensure that contact lens patients who have disposable or planned replacement lenses keep strictly to their replacement schedules. Contact lenses wear out over time and can damage patients' eyes. Deposits also can build up on the lenses, leading to lid and eye infections.
Patients who have lenses they can sleep in (extended wear lenses) also are advised not to keep their contact lenses in their eyes for longer periods than directed by their physician. Adherence to the schedules recommended by their physicians helps patients avoid infection and long-term damage to the cornea.
People employed in certain occupations may be prohibited from wearing contact lenses, or may be required to wear safety eyewear over the contact lenses. Physicians and employers should be consulted for recommendations.
Mary Bekker, The Gale Group Inc., Gale, Detroit,