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Contact Lens History and Growth | Long Island Eye Doctor

So Many Reasons, So Many Contacts
Dr. Joel Kestenbaum

The History of Contact Lens

Contact lenses have come a long way over the last 50 years. Exploring the Contact lens history is important to understand why and how it has grown so much.  In the 1960’s your choice was a “hard” contact lens. One had to be extremely motivated to adapt to these rigid pieces of plastic.  In the 1970’s, soft contact lenses were born which allowed for greater initial comfort but had a long way to go to solve the many vision issues that people had.  More and more people were getting infections from their lens wear and doctors and manufacturers were scampering to solve those problems.

Growth Phase of Contact Lens

The 1980’s gave birth to the frequent replacement contact lens and in the early 90’s a daily disposable lens was brought to market by Johnson and Johnson.  This was a revolutionary lens.  Wear it once and throw it away, just a like a disposable diaper.  Today, daily disposable lenses are more the norm than the exception and patients are using them for all sorts of visual needs.  Daily disposable contact lenses are now available for nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism and as bifocals or multifocals.  They are also available to change or enhance eye color.  Custom contact lenses are also available to solve many if not most of the vision problems that are outside of the normal issues.

This is what makes providing eye care both exciting and challenging at the same time.  We have products available to us for all different needs and we have patients whose visual needs are constantly changing.  As an example: We have an over 40 year old accountant who is also a runner.  As an accountant, multifocal eyeglasses or contact lenses would be the best visual choices.  As a runner, a distance vision contact lens would be an excellent choice to wear for best vision along with a protective sunglass.  Another example is a patient that has an eye disease or injury that required surgery on their cornea (the front surface of the eye).  This person can be fitted with a custom contact lens and also needs protective eyeglasses and sunglasses.

Some people want to wear contacts only on the weekends, or for sports, or special events.  Some want to change the color of their eyes on Tuesday but not on Friday.  Others don’t want to wear eyeglasses no matter what.  So they are fit with a lens for astigmatism that is also a multifocal.  I, for one, like to wear contacts for golf and tennis.

There are also many contact lens material. All soft lenses are not alike.  My son Brett has worn nearly all of the different daily disposable contact lenses on the market.  Some made his eyes red and some made his eyes feel dry.  He finally found one that is perfect for his needs.  The moral of the story is that a lens that may be perfect for one person, may not be good for someone else.  It is very important that your optometrist fit you for your needs, taking into account your history and your physiology.  Off-the-shelf contacts are not an option.  My colleagues and I have seen an extremely high amount of infections in patients who get their contacts from the internet and from illegal sellers.  Doctor’s care is extremely important as contact lenses are medical devices.  They may be easily obtainable from sources other than your eye doctor, but they are still medical devices.

The optometrists at Optix Family Eyecare are experts with contact lenses.  The whole Optix Team are experts who can guide and advise you for the proper eyewear for your needs.  Give us a call at 516-931-6330 or book an appointment online.

Wishing you contact lens success.

Dr. Joel Kestenbaum

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