General Information on Contact Lenses

Before wearing contact lenses, people usually have a number of questions regarding them and what is involved with being a contact lens wearer. The following information will answer some of these questions and assist you in choosing which contact lenses best suit your individual requirements.

The most common contact lens types at Innovative Eye Care are:

A soft contact lens, a rigid orthokeratology lens and a rigid scleral contact lens

Soft Disposable Lenses

These are the most common lenses used by patients today. They have an diameter of approximately 14mm and a large percentage of the lens is composed of water. Soft lenses are ideal for most sports, especially contact sports, as they are less likely to be lost. If they are damaged, new lenses are readily available in your multipack supply. They are generally more comfortable initially than gas permeable lenses, and it takes less time to adapt to wearing them, although they cannot correct some refractive conditions as effectively. Learn about proper care of soft disposable lenses here, or read some handy tips for long-term success here.

There are several different types of disposable (frequent replacement) lenses:

Daily Replacement (lenses which are new with each use and discarded after wear)

Advantages:

  • Disposables have fewer problems with deposits and inflammatory/infective problems than monthly/fortnightly lenses due to their shorter life span. Given a choice, most optometrists would prefer their patients wearing dailies for this reason!
  • Dailies are very convenient as you do not need to clean or store them with solutions and can take spare lenses with you wherever you go – ideal for travel!
  • The newest daily lenses are made from silicone-hydrogel materials – this allows better oxygen supply to the eye and less dryness (these are slightly more expensive than standard dailies).
  • If you only use your lenses occasionally, the cost is very similar to longer-term fortnightly or monthly lenses.
  • If a lens is lost or damaged the cost is negligible – just pop a new lens into your eye!

Disadvantages:

  • Currently, a more limited range of prescriptions can be corrected with dailies. However, this range is increasing each year, and now a good proportion of people with astigmatism can be corrected with dailies.
  • The cost for full time wear may be higher than fortnightly/monthly lenses, although often patients find the increased convenience easily justifies the difference!

Monthly/fortnightly (daily wear lenses which are replaced monthly/fortnightly)

Advantages:

  • Able to correct a wider range of prescriptions and higher degrees of astigmatism than daily disposables.
  • Most monthly/fornightly disposable lenses are made from newer-generation silicone-hydrogel materials which allow increased oxygen flow to the eye and decreased dryness with wear.
  • Suitable for intermittent wear with days away from your contact lenses if required (after consultation with your optometrist).
  • Patients with presbyopia have the option of multifocal lenses (essentially progressive contact lenses).
  • Certain lenses can be available with a tint to accentuate your eye colour.
  • Certain patients who would benefit from sleeping in their contact lenses without significantly compromising the health of their eyes have the option of lenses for overnight wear – after discussing this with their optometrist.
  • The cost per year for lenses and solutions may be slightly cheaper than daily lenses if you wear them most days.

Disadvantages:

  • Longer-use lenses are more prone to deposits and pose a slightly higher risk of microbial infection and inflammatory reactions than daily disposable or rigid gas permeable lenses.
  • Cleaning of the lenses and storage in disinfection solution is required after each day of wear. If you travel, you will need to take the solution with you.

Rigid Gas Permeable Lenses (RGP)

RGP lenses are made from a stiffer material and do not drape on the eyes like soft lenses do. Because of this, careful fitting is required. RGP lenses range in size from approximately 9-10mm to scleral lenses of approximately 16-17mm. Rigid lenses are generally reserved for extreme prescriptions or specialist fits, such as keratoconus. Orthokeratology lenses are a form of these hard lenses. Innovative Eye Care has specialised in rigid lens fitting for a number of years and uses a pioneering lens design software called EyeSpace to custom-design every hard lens used in the practice. Learn about proper care of RGP lenses here. For more specific care instructions for scleral lenses, click here.

Advantages:

  • Rigid lenses are able to correct larger degrees of astigmatism, extreme myopia and hyperopia, and eyes with irregular corneal surfaces including those with keratoconus or following corneal grafts or injury.
  • Vision quality is usually better than with soft lenses.
  • Good for the long-term health of the eye.
  • Lenses tend to last longer (can be up to 1-2 years).
  • Suitable for non-contact sports.

Disadvantages:

  • Initially less comfortable and have a longer adaptation time than soft lenses (scleral lenses tend to be significantly easier to adapt to).
  • Cleaning the lenses and storage in disinfection solution is required after each day of wear. If you travel, you will need to take this solution with you.
  • More problems with irritation from dust in smaller diameters (this is not a problem with the larger scleral lenses as the edge of the lens seals against the eye preventing debis from being trapped beneath).
  • Easier to lose due to their size and stability in the eye (this is not a problem with the larger scleral lenses which are very stable in the eye).

Orthokeratology

Orthokeratology (Ortho-K for short) is an exciting new treatment in vision correction now available to our patients, eliminating the need to wear contact lenses or spectacles to see clearly during the day. Ortho-K vision correction works by gently reshaping the centre of the cornea overnight with specially designed contact lenses. Technically speaking, these lenses use the hydrostatic forces of you own tear-film underneath the lens to redistribute the epithelial cells on the eye’s surface. Essentially this means that once the lenses are removed in the morning, you will have clear vision without any spectacles or contact lenses. Ortho-K can treat mild-moderate myopia (short-sightedness), mild hyperopia (long-sightedness), mild astigmatism and even presbyopia (loss of near focus as the eyes age). The Ortho-K vision correction process is completely reversible. It has recently been shown to reduce the progression of short-sightedness in younger patients. Learn about proper care of ortho-K lenses here.

Advantages:

  • Clear vision without wearing corrective lenses during the day.
  • Good day-time comfort for patients who are bothered by day-time contact lens wear due to dry eyes or lifestyle (for example cyclists, water-polo players, surfers).
  • Ortho-K has been shown to reduce the progression of myopia in young patients.
  • For patients considering laser vision correction but concerned about the overall cost, risk of surgery and potential for incomplete correction or post-surgical dry eyes, Ortho-K may be a better alternative, as well as being completely reversible.
  • Lenses can last for up to 1-2 years if they are looked after and the eyes are stable, meaning costs are lower over time.
  • Some patients with low prescriptions may only need to wear their lenses every second night!
  • Risk of infection has shown to be very low – no higher than soft lenses worn overnight.

Disadvantages:

  • As the treatment starts to take effect there can be days where vision is not perfect. This generally only causes issues over the first week. In most patients, approximately half of the change of prescription occurs after the first night!
  • Comfort of the lenses can take some getting used to – though as they are only worn during sleep they are generally well tolerated.
  • Some patients find that the vision in the evenings can result in halos forming around lights as the pupil enlarges in the dark. This generally improves with time and if the effect is highly bothersome your optometrist can prescribe drops to improve this when required.
  • If lenses are lost or broken, replacements can be costly (your optometrist will recommend you have a spare pair of lenses which can be purchased at 50% of the normal cost within 18 months).

Costs

The costs of being fitted into contact lenses varies depending on the type of lens used and the complexity of the fitting process. Careful fitting of all contact lenses is required to offer the clearest and most comfortable vision without compromising the health of the eye.

In most cases patients with high prescriptions, different prescriptions between the eyes or irregular prescriptions (eg keratoconus) may have the majority of the costs of their contact lens fitting consultations covered by Medicare. In patients that do not meet this criteria there is a fitting charge of $150 for standard cases and refits, and $180 for complex cases. This includes the appointments to teach you how to use the lenses, aftercare appointments to ensure the lenses are fitting well over time, and any trial lens required to get the fit correct.

In most contact lens fits we use technology such as corneal topography and OCT scans to perfect the fit of our lenses. Medicare does not provide benefits for these additional tests and the use of this equipment will carry a small additional charge (Students, children and Pension/Health Care Card holders get 50% off).

If you have a corneal disease such as keratoconus you may be best to take advantage of Innovative Eye Care's Platinum Rigid Lens Fitting Plan. This program sets a new benchmark for contact lens fitting in Australia. This plan includes the cost of any lenses and all consultation time, technology fees and solutions/drops required for a 12 month period. The goal of this comprehensive fitting programme is to fit your eyes with the best rigid lens design possible so that they can be worn all day with good comfort, excellent vision, good stability and healthy eyes. Please click here (http://innovativeeyecare.com.au/what-we-do/platinum-custom-contact-lens-fitting-plan) for more information about this Platinum Plan.

Daily replacement soft lenses tend to be priced at just over $100 for a 3 month supply per eye. A monthly replacement soft lens is about 2/3rd of this cost for the same 3 month period per eye, but does require cleaning solutions, is less convenient and carries a higher risk of infection than a daily replacement lens. More complex soft lenses types like toric lenses to correct astigmatism, or multifocal lenses for patients with presbyopia will be more expensive than a standard lens.

Rigid lenses (including orthokeratology lenses) cost $350-$450 each depending on the complexity of the design. Scleral lenses are more difficult to manufacure and cost $600 each. Don't forget these lenses last on average 1-2 years. Back up lenses of identical parameters can be ordered at half price within 12 months of the original order.

Please feel free to contact our team for more details about the costs of different contact lenses.