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Protecting Your Eyes with Contacts

>> Dec 23, 2012

Contacts have served as an advanced method of vision enhancement for generations. The first pair of wearable contacts were invented by F. E. Muller, a German glassblower, in 1887. Although his contacts did work to help correct the vision, they were large and uncomfortable, able to be worn for only a short amount of time.

Over the years, doctors and scientists worked to develop a contact lens which could be worn more comfortably and which would work overall more effectively.  Contacts are now one of the most popular ways to enhance a patient's vision as well as having become a popular cosmetic item. What many people don't realize, however, is that these lenses can also offer added protection for the eye itself. 

How Contacts Protect the Eye

For a long time, people thought that that the humble contact offered nothing more than a cosmetically appealing alternative to traditional glasses. But a 1992 study published in the Journal of the Contact Lens Association of Ophthalmologists found that contacts actually offered increased safety for patients who wore them.

The researchers studied the use of various kinds of lenses, both hard and soft, and studied how they affected the overall safety of the wearer. Research focused on hard lenses found that the material made eyes resistant to splash injuries. Soft lenses, which are more comfortable than their hard lens counterparts, were found to disperse toxic gas away from the eye and back into the air.

Overall, the research for both types of lenses also found that the saline solution used to wet and store the lenses also gave added benefit to patients. Although the findings of this study could not be applied universally to all toxic chemicals and gasses, determining that the contacts were able to help and did not exacerbate injuries made them more attractive to a greater number of people overall. 

Daily Protection and the Patient Responsibility

Of course, most people don't worry too much about exposing their eye to acidic or caustic chemicals.  But even in everyday use, contact lens wearers can still choose a lens which protects their eyes. Lenses now are designed to help block harmful UV rays. This form of routine care and protection can help to mitigate the potential side effects of exposure.

Any new patient will need to take the time to understand how long their own contacts can be worn as well as understanding how to clean them. Some patients benefit more from disposable contacts while others prefer the value and economy of longer wear contacts regardless of additional care and cleaning needs.  Ophthalmologists are able to determine the best style and kind of lens for each patient depending on their vision needs, as well as their personal lifestyle.

Contacts have been developed with the needs of patient in mind since their inception.  Although originally developed as a simple alternative to glasses, contacts are now seen as a vision correction tool in their own right.  As they work to enhance the patient's vision, they also offer added protection, particularly in regards to daily protection from UV rays. 

Kelly McCloskey is a freelance writer who enjoys researching a wide variety of subjects. She has written on a number of consumer advice topics, including articles which focus on contact lens options.

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