Contact Lens Associates is a private optometric practice specializing in hard to fit contact lens patients, and complete Family Eye Care. Our practice is specifically designed, equipped, and staffed to provide contact lens patients with the necessary expertise for efficient and complete contact lens care. We have been fitting contact lens patients since 1979, when some of the first soft contact lenses entered the market. Since then we have successfully fit thousands of patients requiring many different types of contact lenses, and having varying visual demands. Our unusually large inventory of contact lenses enables most of our new patients to wear their lenses home the first day. This also particularly convenient, as replacements and additional lens supplies are needed. Furthermore, our staff of assistants and technicians, are specifically trained to provide contact lens patients with the complete instruction and guidance that will help make their transition to contacts a quick and smooth one. In addition, Dr.Schatz has almost three decades of experience, and is highly skilled and knowledgeable in the art of contact lens fitting, and he and his entire staff are dedicated to providing the finest eye care possible.
The following sections present some general information about contact lenses including how they work, the types of contact lenses available, and some of their advantages and disadvantages. Contact lenses are small, thin discs made from various sturdy synthetic materials that fit on the eye. They float on a layer of tears that cover the cornea. The inner surface of a contact lens has a series of curves designed to best fit the contour of the eye. The outer surface of the lens is designed to give the proper optical correction. To stay healthy, the cornea needs a steady
supply of oxygen which it normally gets from the air and from tears. Contact lenses, however, form a barrier between the air and the cornea, thereby interrupting the cornea’s direct supply of oxygen. This problem is partly overcome by blinking which allows a fresh supply of oxygen-laden tears to wash behind the lens, bathing and nourishing the cornea. For this reason proper and complete blinking is essential to successful contact lens wear.
Most people can be fitted with contact lenses, although many factors determine the type of lens which is best suited for an individual. But, the most important factor in determining ability to successfully wear contact lenses is the patient’s motivation to do so. While adaptation to contact lenses for most patients is relatively easy, other patients may experience varying degrees of difficulty due to their type of vision problem, eye sensitivity and other factors. Lens modifications and changes may be necessary in these cases in order to achieve a satisfactory fit. Furthermore, there are a few people who simply cannot adjust to contact lenses, through no fault of the doctor or patient. Therefore, there can be no guarantee that any specific individual will be successful wearing contact lenses, but we will not recommend them for you, unless we feel the chances are excellent that you will. Although there are many manufacturers of contact lenses, most lenses fall into one of several main categories. A brief description of each will follow.
Categories of Contact Lenses
All contact lenses can be divided into two main categories. The first of these is Conventional Contact Lenses, and the second is Disposable Contact Lenses. These categories can be sub-divided in to Daily Wear Lenses and Extended Wear Lenses.
When contact lenses gained their first surge of popularity in the early sixties, the contacts available were all Conventional lenses, or Non-Disposable lenses. These are lenses that are worn on a prescribed wearing schedule and generally have an expected life of two to three years if they are rigid lenses and twelve to eighteen months if they are soft lenses. These lenses offer the flexibility of an irregular wearing schedule if the patient so desires. However, they do require the most amount of care since they are supposed to remain comfortable and healthy for a significant period of time. Around 1990, the first consumer available Disposable products appeared in the market. Since then they have become the fastest growing segment of the contact lens market. Today, these lenses can be used for replacement schedules between one day and two weeks, depending on the specific product, and the contact lens wearing goals of the patient. Disposable lenses offer the greatest health factors since the patient is always wearing a relatively new, clean, and fresh lens.
They are also the easiest lenses to care for, and offer the wearer the convenience of having multiple extra pairs available should a lens be lost or damaged.
Daily wear and Extended wear lenses can both be either Conventional or Disposable. The difference is strictly in the wearing schedule. Lenses worn to sleep overnight for varying periods of time, are known as Extended Wear lenses. These lenses are designed to provide the cornea with a greater amount of oxygen transmissibility in order to allow it to breathe properly, even while the eye is closed. Studies indicate these lenses are extremely safe when instructions are followed and follow-up visits are regularly scheduled. These lenses are particularly advantageous to patients having difficulty handling lenses. Daily Wear lenses are worn for varying periods of hours per day, but are not worn overnight.
Soft Lenses are constructed of a gel-like material that absorbs water and thus, soft lenses are sometimes also referred to as Hydrophilic Lenses. It is their ability to absorb water that permits them to transfer oxygen from the air to the cornea, and which makes the lenses pliable and extremely comfortable. These lenses are larger than hard lenses and the size, therefore reduces glare and prevents the edges of the lens from interfering with vision. However, soft lenses are less durable than hard lenses and sometimes provide less precision in visual quality. Furthermore, there are some patients with a large degree of astigmatism, who require visual correction not attainable with standard soft lenses. Soft lenses can, however, be worn successfully on a part-time basis and are less likely to pop out of the eye, making them ideal for athletes. Also, foreign particles are less likely to become lodged under the lens. Perhaps the greatest reason for the ever-increasing popularity of soft lenses is the patient’s ability to wear them comfortably almost immediately. All of these benefits have made soft lenses the most commonly used contact lenses today. Recently, a new improved generation of Soft Lenses have become available, known as Silicone Hydrogels Soft Lenses. These newest Soft Lenses have an even greater capacity to transmit oxygen through the lenses and can aid patients with chronic dry eye symptoms and reduced wearing times. Soft lenses are available either as Conventional Lenses or Disposable Lenses, and can be fit for either a Daily Wear Schedule or an Extended Wear Schedule.
Astigmatic Soft Lenses
The Astigmatic Soft Lenses, or Toric Lenses are designed to correct astigmatism. There are two groups of astigmatic soft lenses. The first, group are the Standard Astigmatic Lenses, which will correct for vision errors and astigmatism within a certain limited range. If a patient’s prescription and eye contour, falls outside this range, the patient will require a lens from the second group which are known as Custom Astigmatic Lenses. This sophisticated contact lens usually performs very well even in patients with a large degree of astigmatism. It is, however, more expensive and requires a special order. All Soft Astigmatic Lenses have the same advantages and disadvantages as regular Soft Lenses. They are, therefore, hydrophilic, extremely comfortable, and allow the patient to quickly adapt. These lenses are also available either as Conventional Lenses or Disposable Lenses, and can be fit for either a Daily Wear Schedule or an Extended Wear Schedule.
These lenses represent the newest generation of Rigid or Hard Contact Lenses. These lenses are Rigid, very much like the original Hard Lenses, however, they are made from an oxygen-permeable materials that provides the eye with much greater health and comfort. In addition, these lenses are thinner and more flexible than the older hard lenses, enabling patients to achieve longer wearing times. When the first Gas-Permeable Lenses were available, they were considered a major breakthrough in contact lens research. Over the last twenty years, these lenses have continually improved and become more healthy, allowing many patients that are not candidates for wearing Soft Lenses, an ability to wear contacts, while allowing the cornea to breathe properly and consistently during lens wear. These newer Gas-Permeable Lenses are also less likely to cause corneal distortion, and allow a smoother transition to eyeglasses following contact lens wear.
Bifocal Contact Lenses
Bifocal Contact Lenses allow the presbyopic patient to see clearly at both far and near distances. These lenses have been available for some time in many forms of both Soft and Rigid contact lens materials. These lenses have become increasingly more popular and more technologically advanced as the baby boomer population has reached presbyopia. They offer the presbyopic patient an option for wearing contact lenses without the need for reading glasses in conjunction with their contacts. Another alternative that has been available to the presbyopic patient for some time, is a contact lens fitting technique known as Monovision. With this technique, the dominant eye is fit for clear vision at distance and the other eye is fit for clear vision at near. This concept may sound unusual, but it works very well for about 85% of the patients on whom it is tried. These patients attain extremely efficient vision as well as good depth perception. This technique may be employed with any type of contact lens, and can also eliminate the need for wearing reading glasses with the contact lenses.
These are contact lenses designed, not just to correct vision as an alternative to eyeglasses, but rather to aid the cornea in the case of corneal disease or injury. In many of these cases, superior vision can be achieved with contact lenses, than with any other means of correcting refractive error of the eyes. Common examples of patients requiring these types of contacts, are those with Keratoconus, a form of corneal dystrophy, patients who have had corneal transplants, patients with irregular astigmatism and/or corneal distortion, and many patients who have had corneal injuries who may temporarily require a Bandage Contact Lens.
Contact Lens Programs
Our contact lens fitting programs are structured to provide our patients with the greatest comfort while maximizing their visual potential and maintaining excellent corneal health.
Our complete lens fitting fees are comprised of a professional fee including an initial comprehensive eye examination, a consultation regarding the type of contact lens program best suited to that individual patient, an evaluation and fitting of the contact lenses, and follow-up visits as needed. Also included in the total fitting program is a fee component for the necessary materials. Initial follow-up periods vary in length depending on the type of contact lens program desired by the patient. Also included in this initial fee is complete instruction and training on the proper care and handling of the lenses, and a supply of recommended lens care solutions.
All of our contact lens programs begin with a complete eye examination and visual analysis including an evaluation of the overall health of the eye, a glaucoma test, and a determination of an eyeglass prescription. At the conclusion of the examination, the doctor will discuss the applicable contact lens options with you, and make recommendations regarding the most practical and appropriate choice, to correct your individual vision problem and meet your goals in wearing contact lenses. Following the dispensing of your initial contact lenses, you will be scheduled for periodic progress visits to ensure the proper fit of the lenses and your satisfaction with them. Most of our patients have no problem with their new contact lenses. Occasionally, however, a patient may have difficulty adjusting to them. If this should occur, you are encouraged to call us and schedule additional visits as needed to correct any problem that may exist. All visits during this period are included in the initial fee. Most adaptive problems may be easily solved, however, if necessary, we can usually suggest alternate lens types that may be more satisfactory.
It is professionally recommended that persons wearing contact lenses seek semi-annual contact lens check-ups to monitor corneal health and vision as well as a complete visual analysis and contact lens examination annually. Extended Wear patients require two additional check-ups annually. These regular examinations will help safeguard your eye health and are especially important for continued effective and comfortable wearing of your contact lenses. It is our policy, when possible, to schedule subsequent visits in advance to ensure that these important follow-ups are made. Your cooperation in this matter will be appreciated.