The Advantages Of Contact Lenses Over Glasses

Published: 29th August 2006
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Contact lenses are optical medical devices, just as spectacles are, and often provide cosmetic and optical advantages over them. The more than 35 million people in the United States who have opted for contact lenses over the use of glasses have done so because of their convenience, and cosmetic value. Many people initially feel discomfort when starting to use contact lenses, but the benefits of using them far outweigh these minor discomforts.

The Short History Of Spectacles

The invention of spectacles has greatly influenced progress in the arts and sciences, yet it is not very clear who invented this instrument. In 1270, Marco Polo saw elderly Chinese using this device, which they claim to have originated in Arabia in the 11th century.

The spectacles evolved in the western world from the late 1200s onwards, with riveted spectacles used by monks and scholars, who held the lenses in front of there eyes, or balanced them on their noses. The invention of the printing press in 1452 encouraged the mass production of spectacles, along with the growing popularity of books. For the lower and middle classes, there were spectacles mounted in wood, horn, bone, etc, whereas the upper classes used hand held spectacles in gold or silver frames.

The significant advancement in frame design occurred in the 1600s, with rigid bridges that allowed the spectacles to remain in place. In the present times, there has been a tremendous progress in frames and lens acuity, with the spectacles, whether plain or prescription, becoming a fashion statement.

The Short History Of Contact Lenses

If you are of the view that contact lenses are a new invention, you are way off the mark. Leonardo Da Vinci first described and sketched his ideas of contact lenses way back in 1508! However, it took more than 300 years to fabricate and wear them.


 



 



Swiss physician A.E. Fick and Paris optician Edouard Kalt are credited with fitting the first contact lenses, in the late 1800s, for myopia and hyperopia. These heavy glass lenses could be used for a few hours of wear only.

Plastic came into use in 1936, when William Feinbloom, an optometrist in New York, made contact lenses with the central portion of glass surrounded by plastic in the periphery that covered the sclera. 1948 saw a Californian optometrist, Kevin Tuohy produce contact lenses completely made of plastic.

The same year, George Butterfield, an optometrist from Oregon, improved upon Kevin Tuohy's design with lenses that matched the shape of the cornea, and would not easily pop off. These lenses have evolved to the present soft contact lenses, which are worn by more than 90% of the contact lens wearers in the United States.

Contact Lenses vs. Glasses

Contact lenses offer functional advantages over glasses in areas, such as sports, work – in humid environment, and in occupations where spectacles are inconvenient and not compatible with the equipment used, such as special headgears. Let us look at some of the advantages that contact lenses offer over glasses:

Natural Vision - As they are worn right on the cornea of the eye, contact lenses provide vision that is more natural. The objects appear in the correct size and position, without any distortion. The distance between the eye and the glasses can vary, causing the objects to appear larger or smaller than they actually are.
Stable Vision – Contact lenses are not affected by quick body movements, such as in sports and similar activities, and remain in place, providing clear and stable vision. Eyeglasses are unstable on your face when running, making your vision unstable, affecting your performance.
Peripheral Vision – Contacts give you a wider and better peripheral vision that glasses. Contact lenses move along with your eyes and you are always looking through the clearest part of the lens – the optic zone. On the other hand, the frames of the glasses block your peripheral vision, and when you move your eyes to the side, you are no longer looking through the optical center, causing blurred and distorted vision.
Unaffected By Weather – Contact lenses do not fog up when you come in from the cold, and neither do they get splattered by rain. In addition, they do not steam up from body heat or perspiration.
Comfortable – Contact lenses are quite comfortable to wear as they do not pinch your nose, or rub or press against your ears and temple, unlike glasses, which, in addition, slide down your nose when you perspire.

Contact lenses have been a boon for children in one particular sense. They do not get picked on at school by their friends. This relieves them from the psychological and physical traumas related to wearing glasses.



Glasses, at times do not work, and contact lenses are certainly superior to them:

Thick glasses are required in cases of severe short sightedness, making them very heavy, and your eyes look very small.
Glasses do not provide adequate correction when the difference between the visual acuity of your eyes is more than 2.5 diopters - a unit of measurement of the refractive power of lenses.
After cataract removal, your eyes need a special protection, which only contact lenses can provide adequately.

With improvements in technology, a wide variety of contact lenses are available, both for ophthalmic, as well as cosmetic uses. People who normally wear glasses can easily and safely shift to wearing contact lenses. People had many misgivings about using contact lenses, and opted for glasses, but these are no longer hold true.

There was a time when contact lenses used to pop out, and this was during the time when contact lenses were hard lenses. Today, there is no 'popping' out with the introduction of soft contact lenses. These soft contact lenses conform to the shape of the eye, and do not move or pop out.

Another myth of contact lenses being expensive is not correct. These are less expensive than many of the designer frames that are available today.

Follow the instructions of the manufacturers to take care of your contact lenses, to enable them to provide you with clear and healthy vision.

Michael Wright is a virtual authority on contact lenses. He also writes articles about color contact lenses and toric contact lenses.


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