Article Date: 7/1/2004

The Importance of Contact Lens Care in the Age of Disposable Lenses
Keeping up with contact lens care is more important than ever in this age of new materials.
Joseph T. Barr, O.D., M.S., F.A.A.O.

One of the great things about the contact lens field is that the more things change, the more they stay the same. We now have single-use silicone hydrogel lenses for continuous wear, hydrogel lenses for daily disposing, and silicone hydrogel lenses marketed for 2-week disposing for daily wear. These and other lenses of many different polymers may help patients have better, more normal eye health and end-of-day comfort.

Most of these lenses are used for daily wear, and typically, patients don't comply with their replacement cycles. Indeed, a typical 2-week replacement schedule often extends into a 3-week cycle, probably more than 50 percent of the time, resulting in the need for dozens of cleaning and disinfection cycles.

Fortunately, we now have the least toxic, most comfortable and effective multipurpose lens care solutions we've ever had. Not only do they have the classic ingredients for proper pH, osmolarity, buffering, cleaning and disinfection, they now contain ingredients to enhance lens comfort and eye health. Most are so good that if your patients adhere to their replacement schedules and rinse the lenses adequately, they can safely use these products without rubbing the lens.

Most importantly, studies show that when you prescribe the latest lens technology and care products -- and patients comply -- long-term comfort is possible. New lenses decrease inflammation thanks to better oxygen transmissibility; and new care products further enhance the condition of these lenses. With new lubricants that help clean the lenses, all-day comfort day after day is even more of a reality.

The goal of contact lens wear beyond good vision always has been long-term comfort with normal eye health. Using the latest lens materials to maximize biocompatibility, along with the most up-to-date care systems to reduce lens drying and keep lenses as clean as possible, makes this goal achievable.

Yet, contact lenses made from new materials used in conjunction with new and old lens care products can lead to some unintended consequences. This special supplement explains the important issues in current lens care technology and provides strategies to maximize patient success and avoid unusual interactions.

Dr. Barr is editor of Contact Lens Spectrum magazine. He's a professor and assistant dean for clinical affairs at The Ohio State College of Optometry in Columbus.



Contact Lens Spectrum, Issue: July 2004