How Do Contacts Work

Contact lenses are thin circular lenses that can improve your vision when placed on the surface of your eye.

It’s important to know how the eye can see to understand how contact lenses work. The front of the eye has a clear dome-shaped structure called the cornea. The cornea and pupil allow light to enter your eye. Your iris, or colored part of your eye, can constrict and expand to change the size of the pupil and control how much light can enter.

Next, a lens inside your eye works with the cornea to bend all of the incoming light to focus it on the retina. The retina is a layer of tissue at the back of the eye and is full of photoreceptors. These cells interpret the light and then turns it into electrical signals.

The electrical signal then gets transmitted through your optic nerve to your brain so that you can make sense of all the information.

So now that you have a basic understanding of how the eye works, how do contact lenses actually work?

Contact Lenses Work By Creating The Perfect Shape for the Front of Your Eye To Allow Light To Bend Appropriately To Focus On The Retina

Many people experience blurry vision for a host of different reasons. We will focus on blurry vision due to refractive error, meaning the eye isn’t shaped appropriately to bend light and focus on the retina correctly. People may be farsighted or nearsighted, myopic or hyperopic, respectively. Presbyopia is a term that describes age-related farsightedness because of the hardening of the lens making it harder to adjust from seeing far away to seeing close up. 

You might be myopic, hyperopic, or presbyopic because the shape of your cornea isn’t allowing light to focus precisely on your retina. Or your lens is losing its ability to make adjustments to enable you to focus on things at different distances. You might also have an astigmatism, which causes less than perfect vision.

This is where contact lenses save the day. First, your eye doctor will perform a refraction to determine the amount and type of correction you need. The results of this exam will determine the exact parameters of contact lenses that will correct your vision. In other words, contact lenses can undo the effects of an irregularly shaped cornea or rigid lens so that the light can focus on your retina.

presbyopia diagram

Do contact lenses ruin your eyesight?

No, wearing contact lenses won’t ruin your eyesight. On the contrary, wearing contact lenses improves your eyesight by allowing you to see clearly. However, with that said, contact lenses can be harmful if you don’t clean them properly or wear them longer than intended.

Contacts that haven’t been cleaned properly can cause an infection. Overwearing or sleeping in contacts can also damage the eye. While it’s true that contact lenses can lower the amount of oxygen entering the eye, the best lenses on the market are made out of highly breathable materials.

Are contact lenses better than glasses?

Deciding between glasses and contacts can be tricky because both are better or worse in different situations. Contact lenses are superior if you live an active lifestyle. If you are going for a jog or playing sports, you don’t want to worry about your glasses getting sweaty and falling off. However, if you are boarding a long flight and plan to take a nap, glasses are best since they are safe for sleep.

Glasses can also make a fashion statement, so they are best for accessorizing unless you plan to wear color contacts.

How many hours a day can you wear contact lenses?

Different contacts are safe to wear for different amounts of time. However, a general rule of thumb is to not wear contacts for more than a standard workday of 8 to 12 hours (8am to 5pm) so that your eyes have time to rest and breathe in the evening.

Some contacts on the market are designed and approved to be worn overnight and for extended periods. These are called extended wear contacts.

How long do contacts last

Soft contact lenses are usually only intended to work between one day and one month before needing disposal. If you wear dailies, it’s essential to wear a clean pair daily to keep your eyes healthy. It’s also important to ensure your contacts have been cleaned properly between uses and appear normal.

If you wear monthly lenses, but they look ready to tear in half after two weeks, throw them away and put a new pair on. The health of your eyes is more important than saving money.

How do contacts stick to your eye?

Contact lenses are dome-shaped so that they fit snuggly against the surface of your eye. However, the most crucial part of creating a good fit is the tear fluid on the surface of your eye. When you wear contacts, the layer of fluid between your eye and the lens creates a seal to keep the contact in place.

Can 16 year olds wear contacts?

Absolutely! There is no minimum age for contact lenses. Your eye care provider will know if you need contacts and can use them safely and appropriately.