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Contact Lenses Q&As with Dr. Knapp

dr donald knapp west winfield optometristQ: Who can wear contact lenses and at what age can you start?

Dr. Knapp: The success rate with fitting someone with contact lenses is probably close to 90% with today’s contact lenses. While there is no magical age where contact lenses become an option, children probably have better success with contact lenses if they are 11 years of age or older. Rather than simply the age of the patient, the more important criteria is how responsible the patient is, which is different in different children.

Q: Are glasses better for my eyes than contact lenses?

Dr. Knapp: No. Neither glasses or contact lenses are better, or worse, for your eyes. They are just two different ways to get a person to see better.

Q: Is wearing contacts better for sports activity?

Dr. Knapp: Generally contact lenses are better for sports activity. With contact lenses you have better peripheral vision than with glasses which is helpful in sports like basketball, soccer, football and others. Also, environmental conditions such as playing outside in the rain, or inside in a hot gym, can create problems for a person wearing glasses. Sports with physical contact also increase the risk of a person’s glasses breaking also.

Q: Should I see an optometrist or an ophthalmologist for my first pair of contacts?

Dr. Knapp: Ophthalmologists are eye surgeons. While some may have training in fitting contact lenses most generally don’t fit contact lenses themselves. An Optometrist is the better choice to go to to be fit with contact lenses.

Q: About five years ago, I was told I was not a good candidate for contacts. I have odd shaped eyes. Are there new options available today?

Dr. Knapp: It sounds like you were told you had astigmatism, which is a normal condition where the eye has 2 curves to it, like a football, rather than being perfectly round, like a basketball. This use to be a difficult condition for contact lenses to work on but with the improvements in contact lens technology that is no longer the case. You should be a viable contact lens contact today.

Q: I am worried about putting my finger in my eye. How does someone get used to this?

Dr. Knapp: Learning to put contact lenses in and out is the most difficult part of becoming a contact lens wearer. Like any new skill, playing the piano, learning to play golf, or learning to drive a car with a standard transmission, all people are not experts when they try something new. There is always a learning curve with all new skills. Most people are a little concerned over touching their eyes but if a person is patient enough and motivated enough to want to wear contact lenses most everyone will become an expert in putting in and taking out contact lenses. It just takes time and practice.

Q: Can I swim with contacts in?

Dr. Knapp: Swimming in contact lenses can be done but isn’t advisable. If too much water gets in your eyes the lenses will probably wash out and the lenses will be lost. This is especially possible if you are in a pool with a lot of people. If you are an avid swimming, you might want to invest in a good pair of watertight swim googles to use while swimming. Swimming in ponds and lakes should be especially avoided since the water in them is not nearly as clean as water in a swimming pool and thus the chance for an eye infection is much greater.


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