By Troy Ogden, OD
Technically speaking, anyone can wear contact lenses. The better question is, who should wear them?
As a contact lens prescriber, there are several criteria I look for when a patient comes to me for an eye exam: eye health, prescription, maturity, motivation and most importantly, expectations.
The oldest patient I have prescribed contact lenses for was 74 and the youngest was 7. In pediatric practices, I know doctors who routinely prescribe contact lenses for toddlers and preschoolers. Doctors use contact lenses in these young children because they refuse to wear their glasses and have a condition, usually amblyopia, that will threaten their eye sight if they don’t wear their prescription. I use this example to illustrate the safety and utility of contact lenses for patients of all ages.
I ask nearly all of my patients if they would be interested in contact lenses, and I get all kinds of responses. The number one reason for not trying contact lenses: fear of touching one’s eye. The second most reported reason for avoiding contacts is they have been told by an eye doctor they would not be a good candidate because of their prescription. The third most common reason I hear is they tried contact lenses several years ago and didn’t like them.
Like most of the consumer and medical products on the market, the new soft lenses made today are a world apart from those made even 10 years ago. Today, I can use standardly available soft lenses to fit more than 95 percent of patients. We have trial lenses in the office to fit more than 90 percent of patients. And this includes patients with astigmatism and those who need reading glasses.
Many people don’t know that contact lenses can now be bifocal, trifocal, or even progressive. The new multifocal contacts work for people with presbyopia, a natural condition brought on by age, where the eye’s natural lens stiffens and loses the ability to focus on close objects. For patients who want contact lenses, we do our best to get them a pair to try during their visit.
If you’re interested in contact lenses, we’ll work with you until we get the pair that works best for your prescription and lifestyle.