Disposable contact lens use

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Disposable Contact Lenses

The U.S. FDA describes a disposable contact lens as a lens to be worn once and then discarded. There is no provision for the contact lens to be worn again after the specified time period. The wearing period may be as short as a day or as long as a month.

The concept of disposable contact lenses and their introduction in the later part of the 80’s was a path breaking one. Earlier the contact lenses were used through the years until the lenses were either lost or damaged or became intolerable. After these ‘marathon’ contact lenses came the yearly replacement lenses as an improvement and once the benefits of these were noticed, the next stage was the development of lenses with shorter replacement intervals i.e. frequent or planned replacement or disposable lenses.

Extended wear vs. Disposable lenses

Hydrogel contact lenses for daily wear gained popularity but the associated complications of bacterial keratitis also began to appear. Pseudonomas and other bacteria formed a barrier against disinfecting solutions. Also many patients did not care for their contact lenses properly. So the only way to remove these variables from the contact lens use was to develop the extended wear contact lens with the certainty that they would be a safer option due to less exposure to handling and care solutions in addition to being more convenient.

However, reports of microbial keratitis began to appear and many specialists began to advise against extended wear use. Most doctors believed that the perfect lenses were the ones which were to be used once and then discarded. But the production of these would fall short of demand and would be unaffordable, so the best option was the idea of disposable or frequent wear contact lenses

Complications Associated with Extended wear disposable lenses

Though with the introduction of disposable contact lenses for extended wear was approved in 1987 and practitioners thought that it heralded great improvement in contact lens safety, this was not absolutely true as there were still reports of keratitis. Studies revealed that the rate was higher for disposable extended wear contact lenses than for conventional extended wear lenses. So, practitioners advised against them.

Though they were still prescribed, it was advised that the patients wear disposable lenses on a daily basis and replace them at 2 to 8 week intervals. There were more peripheral ulcers or infiltrates with disposable extended wear contact lenses also known as contact lens peripheral ulcer. A variety of contact lens related complications can interfere with the ability of individuals to continue using these types of contact lenses.

Case for Disposable Lenses

When viewed broadly, the spectrum of contact lens related problems including subjective and objective complications; it is found that the overall incidence of contact lens related problems was significantly lower for disposable extended wear lenses than for conventional extended wear lenses. Daily disposable contact lenses are the most trouble free modality, with a significantly lower overall incidence of contact lens related complications when compared with other replacement intervals. Out of the 35 million contact lens wearers in the U.S., 85% wear soft contacts and out of these, 22 million wear disposable contact lenses. The issue of safety and the role of the wearing schedule and contact lens replacement in maintaining safe contact lens wear have been studied and found to be safe.

The latest development in the search for the perfect contact lens has been the approval of the high Dk silicone hydrogel disposable lenses for extended wear. It is clear that these have largely solved the problem of hypoxia and are safe but they are not absolutely trouble free. Some patients are unable to tolerate the lenses and there are complications like epithelial breaks.

There are various factors for the popularity of contact lenses. For the patient, the advantages of good comfort and vision, easy care, ready availability, ocular health are noteworthy. For the specialist, the benefits of consumer satisfaction associated with the lowest possible rate of contact lens related problems are important considerations. Disposable lenses contact lenses are available in colored varieties, as toric as well as presbyopic lenses.

Fitting and Care

Before fitting, a careful assessment of the patient is taken for noting any preexisting conditions that may affect the ability of the individual to wear contact lenses. Special requirements like whether lenses are for daily use or occasional use, for presbyopia or toric lenses are to be used are also important considerations.

Disposable lenses are not to be reused but all users should have lens care supplies in hand if they have to remove lenses and want to reinsert them. After cleaning, the lenses should be stored in a multipurpose solution.

Special uses of Disposables

These lenses are readily available and inexpensive thus popular. They have therapeutic efficacy in many ocular problems and result in healing of the ocular surface and improvement in vision. Many people who do not wear contact lenses on a daily basis have the option of using disposable contact lenses for occasions like weddings and parties.

Patients who opt not to have refractive surgery can use disposable contacts and following refractive surgery; these enhance comfort and epithelial healing. They are also useful for patients who have had cataract surgery in one eye.