Kenton Optometrists Blog

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Contact lenses vs spectacles?

Deciding between contact lenses and spectacles can sometimes be a tough decision. One option is not necessarily better than the other and there is a lot to consider, so you should take the time to weigh up which option is best for you. Understanding the pros and cons of each is a great first step towards deciding whether spectacles or contacts will better suit your lifestyle.

For those who only use visual aids infrequently, perhaps driving at night or reading in low light, may be better served by spectacles as they can be used when needed. Taking them on and off is a speedy affair, spectacles are low-maintenance and do not incur follow-up costs. Furthermore, contact lenses cannot correct all vision conditions, such as when a prism spectacle lens is required to treat squints or impaired binocular vision. Contact lenses may also be incompatible with some health conditions or in certain dry, dusted working conditions.

Apart from the above, contact lenses are suitable for almost every eye and can  be tailored to suit ones lifestyle.

Pros and cons of spectacles

Whilst spectacles can often provide clear, stable vision in both eyes, for many people the biggest issue is that they can be cumbersome and visible to others. Some do not like the way they look with spectacles, while others love their new look and consider them a fashion statement. Spectacles also require no sterilisation or strict hygiene protocols and thereafor are considered easier to maintain than contact lenses. Depending on the spectacle and contact lens prescription, spectacles often tend to be the more cost-effective option, compared with contact lens worn daily in accordance with a reputable practitioner's guidleines. With the onset of presbyopia (generally after 40 years old) a different lens focus is required for distance and near vision and spectacles are able to create clearer binocular vision than contact lenses, even though contact lens technology is markedly improved, specs still take.

However, the most common complaints and disadvantage of spectacles is the limited peripheral vision and the fogging of lenses, especially in those with an active lifestlye. Spectacles cannot offer the convenience offered in contact lenses.


All about contact lenses

Contacts lenses offer the beauty of a natural look, without the having the weight of spectacles on your nose. The wide field of view and clear peripheral vision makes contact lenses ideal for outdoor activities or sportsman where spectacle wear is not possible. Contact lenses are also often a more suitable choice for action-packed outdoor activities because they can’t fall off, break or come loose when fitted correctly, espcially in watersports. With recent innovation, contact lenses are now also available to correct both far and near vision simultaneously with specialised contact lenses, avoiding the need to put specs on and off for reading. As contact lenses sit closer to the eye than spectacles, studies have shown that many contact lenses wearers feel their vision is better in contact lenses than spectacles. As a result certain eye diseases, like keratoconus (high curvature on the front of the eye) are treated with specialised hard lenses to correct vision, where spectacles cannot.

The major disadvantage of contact lenses is the risk of eye health problems if overworn and non-compliance with the optometrists and manufacturer's wearing guidelines. More than 90% of contact lens wearers report to overwear their lenses at times, adding to increases the risks of eye infections and vision loss. Following the guidelines of your optometrist is essential for health long-term, safe contact lens wear.


Consider your options

When deciding between wearing contact lenses or spectacles and what would be best for you, it comes down to personal preferences, lifestyle, visual expectations and whether your eyes are suitable for contact lenses. Contact lenses however should not be considered the only option, even if you are a highly active person, as the need to wear protective lenses in certain enviroments may be required. (outdoors and safety work). Even though, patients as young as 3 years old, or age 80 can learn to handle and put in contact lenses, you may just feel that putting something in your eye just isn't for you, or find specs more economical.


Best of both worlds

A lot of spectacle wearers decide what to wear daily contact lenses at times, a few days a week for sport, watersport or the odd occasion going out or special occasions. As 1 Day contact lenses are so comfortable, they almost feel like nothing and require no maintainence and cleaning, making them the most popular choice in the market. It is always best to ask your optometrist for their advise and arrnage a diagnostic fitting to experience what the vision and comfort of the lenses is like, before committing to purchasing a box on contact lenses. If you usually wear spectacles but want to go on a challenging hike, a spare pair of contacts may come in handy too. 


The best advise is to keep your spectacle and contact lense prescription up to date and follow the guidelines of your eyecare professional.