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Contact Lenses 101

By Briana Liebmann

Contact lenses are a great alternative to glasses. Many people who live an active lifestyle have enjoyed the ease and convenience of contacts now for many years. Today, there is an extensive choice to best fit your need.

Contacts now have so many options; it may seem a bit overwhelming to find the right pair for you. In truth, there are a few things you should know when shopping for contacts. But when done right, you will find much better prices and varieties than your optometrist could provide.

After a visit to your eye doctor, you can ask for a prescription of your eyes. This little sheet of paper will tell you everything you want to know about the shape, size, and power of your eyes. First, you will need to decipher the abbreviations on your prescription

PWR: this is the strength in diopters your new lenses must have in order to sharpen your sight to an acceptable level.

BC: Known as back curvature, this number indicates the shape of your cornea and helps with overall fit and comfort.

DIA: The distance in milliliters across your contact lenses

CYL: For those of you with astigmatism, this measures how advanced it is.

AXIS: Also for astigmatism patients, this helps the contacts correct the oval shape of your cornea.

ADD: For bifocal users, this will show the additional strength in the section of your contacts used for reading or close viewing.

COLOR: If you have chosen contacts that will enhance or change your eye color, your desired color will be shown here.

BRAND: If your doctor has prescribed a certain brand for you, in most cases, retailers are required to sell you only that brand.

Now that you know what your prescription means, you can now shop for the best contacts for you, there are some things to note though. After talking to your doctor, you should be aware if you need soft or gas permeable contacts.

Soft contacts are quite common and take less time for your eyes to adjust to. Because they contain anywhere from 25% to 79% water, they are more comfortable but less durable. Some also allow you to sleep in them. Soft contacts are generally replaced more often than gas permeable lenses. The life expectancy of soft contacts vary from once a day to once every few months. This factor depends on upkeep and how sensitive your eyes are.

Gas permeable lenses are made from a rigid silicone which is considerably more durable and longer lasting. In the long run, gas permeables are slightly more expensive up front but less expensive over time since one pair will last a couple of years compared to soft contacts lasting an average of around a month.

A new craze today is color changing or enhancing contacts. Some people add this feature to their already existing prescription and some even buy them simply for decoration. Color can come in a variety of intensities.

Tinted contacts have a visible tint meant to enhance the natural color of your eyes. this type looks best on light colored eyes.

Color tints have an opaque solid color pattern around the center of the lens which can dramatically change eye color. The color pattern is based off of natural color occurrences in the iris. The center is clear so you can see. These lenses come in colors such as blue, hazel, green, and even violet.

Costume tints have been used in movies for special eye effects and are now available to the general public. Options include white-out, spiral, cheetah, and alien. These are obviously not for everyone.

With this information, shopping for the best contacts can be a fun and rewarding experience. You are almost guaranteed a better price and more ease than conventional ordering from your optometrist. The best way to find the best prices is to browse around and compare prices. Be careful of scammers and stay with reliable companies.

About The Author
Briana Liebmann is an original content writer for which features original articles on a variety of topics.

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