Vision correction has come a long way since Benjamin Franklin invented the bifocals. It has grown from an industry of spectacles into one dominated by another eye correction device: the contact lens.
Since 1991, the use of contact lenses has grown by as much as 4 percent every year. This may be because people saw that this nifty device made from silicone hydrogel offers convenience and cosmetic benefits that glasses simply cannot provide.
But, like most inventions, contact lenses have their limits and some people report blurry eyesight when using them. This article is a backgrounder on contact lenses and several alternative treatment options for people who need vision correction minus the experience of blurred vision.
Understanding Contact Lenses: What Causes Blurry Vision?
Contact lenses, as the name implies, are designed to come into “contact” with the corneal surface to correct refractive errors. The lenses sit directly on the eye to ensure eyesight correction without obstructing the peripheral vision.
People who use this product enjoy the benefit of participating in an active lifestyle and relishing outdoor activities without the need to wear glasses. Plus, contact lenses can change a person’s eye color. Ultimately, the factors that affect a person’s decision for using contact lenses include preference, comfort, lifestyle, budget, convenience, and aesthetics.
But over the years, many have reported experiencing blurry vision while wearing contact lenses even when they have no problem wearing glasses with the a similar prescription. The issue may be brought about by several factors, including:
1. Mucus, debris, and protein buildup
Most contact lenses are made to function optimally for a specific period and need to be replaced every day, every other week, or on a monthly basis. Since they are attached directly to the eyes, building up of mucus, debris, and protein is expected to occur. This is particularly common in people who wear their lenses for extended periods of time.
To determine if this is the reason behind your cloudy and hazy contact lenses, you can simply take them out and compare your vision while you wear your glasses. If you see more clearly when wearing glasses, it means that your contact lenses may need to be replaced.
2. Prescription change
Age changes a person’s eyesight. Teenagers and adults over 40 years old tend to need a change in prescription glasses, so wearing contact lenses with the same prescription for several years is not advisable.
Prescription changes during these ages can be subtle. However, if you experience sudden blurry eyesight, you may be suffering from more severe eye problems or systemic health conditions such as diabetes. To ascertain the reason why your vision becomes blurry while wearing your lenses, you may need to visit an ophthalmologist.
3. Dryness of the eyes
Wearing contact lenses for a long time tends to cause dry eyes, which causes blurry vision. In fact, the longer they are worn, the less moisture they are able to retain.
To check if this causes your eyesight problem, try blinking several times. If your vision becomes a bit clearer after every blink, then dry eyes and lenses are probably causing your hazy vision. If not, you might want to open a new pack of lenses or consider an alternative eye corrective treatment altogether.
3 Safe Alternatives to Contact Lenses
One of the biggest reasons why people choose contact lenses over glasses is their active lifestyle. However, contact lenses also have their share of drawbacks, including causing blurry vision.
Luckily, there are other alternatives to contact lenses that are both painless and effective in correcting eyesight while eliminating the hassles of wearing and removing something from your eyes.
Below are three contact lens alternatives you should consider:
LASIK, referring to laser-assisted in situ Keratomileusis, is a form of corrective eye surgery that entails creating a thin flap on the cornea to remove the underlying tissue. It makes use of a laser beam in reshaping the corneal tissue to correct a person’s eyesight.
Before LASIK, eye doctors used PRK (Photorefractive Keratectomy) to remove the outer layer of the cornea. Like its successor, the goal of PRK is to reshape the corneal tissue underneath using a laser. But, instead of creating a flap, this procedure discards the outer corneal layer of epithelium and allows the cornea to heal itself for a couple of days.
Another eye procedure that corrects vision is ICL, which stands for Implantable Collamer Lens. As the name suggests, this procedure involves the implantation of a special kind of contact lens between the iris and the natural eye lens.
This state-of-the-art eye-corrective procedure offers a way to enhance the eye’s natural lens with the help of Collamer, a biocompatible material that can be left in the eye without causing discomfort or adverse side effects. ICL is considered superior among the other types of laser procedures in cases of extreme nearsightedness since it uses a lens to correct high prescriptions rather than changing to shape of the cornea.
Contact lenses have been an important part of the evolution of eyesight correction. They have helped pave the way for better alternatives like LASIK, PRK and ICL to provide people with clearer vision both in the present and the future.
Joel Hunter, MD is an Ophthalmologist, Refractive Surgeon, and the Founder of Hunter Vision in Orlando, Florida. A recognized and respected specialist in vision correction who has performed thousands of refractive surgeries, Joel gives lectures across the country and trains fellow doctors in the newest LASIK surgery techniques.