This is a promotional featured post, written in collaboration with 1-Day Acuvue Moist Multifocal contact lenses. For more information please go to https://www.acuvue.co.uk/
Contact lenses – a pretty recent innovation, right?
If I’d previously had to guess, I’d have said they’d been around since the 1980s, made famous by those movies where the geeky girl swaps her glasses for contacts, lets down her hair and instantly becomes ‘hot girl’ and hooks the star football player.
So imagine my surprise to discover the very first concept for lenses actually came from Leonardo da Vinci, artist, creator and – as it turns out – contact lens inventor. Well, to clarify, he came up with a very basic concept after realising that looking through water could sometimes improve a person’s eyesight. As such, his first approach was to dunk the head in a bowl of water, which clearly wasn’t a practical or long-lasting solution.
It wasn’t until 1823 that Englishman, Sir John Herschel, came up with the idea of creating something that was moulded from your eye and sat on your cornea, but it took half a century before anyone was brave enough to actually make and test it.
Firstly, they were made from glass and could only be worn for a few hours at time, as they were heavy and cumbersome, and cut off the oxygen supply to your cornea *shudders*. It was another 50 years before plastic versions were created, followed by soft, and then disposable, versions.
Originally worn to counteract short and long-sightedness, contact lenses are now also available to combat presbyopia – an unavoidable part of ageing where, once you hit around 40, the lens inside your eye begins to harden. When looking at things close up, this results in the light being directed through your eye landing slightly behind the retina, rather than directly on it, which affects the way your eyes focus. Your ‘near point’ (the nearest point at which you can keep an object in focus) becomes further away, which means you have to hold things back to be able to see them clearly. Hence the nickname ‘Long Arm Syndrome’!
It was something I’d noticed myself doing increasingly often, which is why I was SO excited to discover there were 1-Day Acuvue Moist Multifocal contact lenses to correct this infuriating side effect of ageing (multifocal means there are different prescriptions merged together, enabling you to clearly see near, middle AND long distance without having to move your head to switch between different lenses).
Years ago you weren’t supposed to wear contacts every day, but modern versions are made from permeable material that allows oxygen and natural tears to pass though, meaning you can wear them all day, every day. These days wearing contact lenses is as common as putting on a pair of socks, albeit slightly trickier, as I was about to find out…
I’m sitting in the office of Optix, central London, where the optometrist is peering intently into my eyes. He uses specialist equipment to examine right to the very back of my eyes, before sliding a series of lenses in front of me and instructing me to read the eye chart on the far wall. With each new one he checks how my eye is reacting and asks if I can see better or worse.
Through this process of elimination he worked out exactly which strength of lens I needed to correct my presbyopia. ‘We’ll start by trying these… ‘ he said, handing me a box of 1-Day Acuvue Moist Multifocal disposable contact lenses. ‘Let’s see how you go putting them on.’
He demonstrated how to do it – by reaching one arm up and over my head, reaching down to pull open the upper eyelid of the opposite eye. Balancing the lens on the tip of my forefinger of my other hand, I used one my other fingers to pull down the lower lid so the eye was as wide open as possible. Next, I lightly touched the contact lens against the front of my eye, where it adhered itself to my cornea).
It’s quite an uncomfortable feeling at first – literally like you have something in your eye (funny that!) and for the first few seconds I couldn’t open my eye and wondered if I’d have to take the lens out. Then, as quickly as it started, the discomfort disappeared. It was almost as if my eye just needed time to adjust, in the same way you need a few seconds to get used to bright light.
The other eye popped in just as easily. ‘You’re a natural!’ the optometrist told me.
I was still conscious that the lenses were there, but they weren’t irritating me anymore. As soon as I stopped really concentrating on them I forgot they were there. The only difference I noticed was my eyes seemed a tiny bit dryer than usual and, as a result, I was blinking more often (but not an excessive amount). Also, when I moved my head quickly, there was sometimes a shifting feeling, like my eyesight was still adjusting to the magnification of the lenses (however, as the day went on even these effects lessened, and I forgot I even had them in).
Next, he had me remove the lenses by getting clean fingers and pinching them lightly across the front of my eye. The lens folded between my fingers, and easily came away.
I asked the optometrist what I should do if I couldn’t take them out (everyone’s biggest worry, right?!). Don’t panic – was his first piece of advice. Take a deep breath and calmly try to remove them with clean fingers, and if you still don’t have any joy just pop into your local optometrist and they’ll remove them for you.
He also said if your eyes feel irritated or uncomfortable, remove your lenses and get your eyes checked; it may be that you have an infection or even an abrasion on your cornea that needs treatment before you can wear them again.
My other question was what to do if I dropped the lenses. Carefully rinse them in the saline solution, he told me, and make sure they’re the right way around (hold them up and make sure they’re a bowl shape; if you can see a lip around the top rim they’re inside out and you need to flip them back before you insert them).
Luckily, Acuvue also have instructional videos on their website giving you step-by-step instructions on how to insert and remove contact lenses.
I kept the lenses for the rest of the day and after about an hour I totally forgot I was wearing them. Because my presbyopia was still at the very beginning stages (read more in my first post), I didn’t notice an improvement so much as I didn’t notice a problem. So rather than picking something up and wondering why I couldn’t read it (which really used to baffle me, as I’d always had such perfect eyesight) I was reading things as easily as I’d always done, and it just felt so normal.
I noticed it most when I was cooking – before I would have to turn all the lights right up, and twist and turn packets in order to make out the tiny instructions on the back. Now the writing seemed much clearer, and much easier to read.
I noticed I wasn’t ‘peering’ at things anymore – you know, when you narrow your eyes and scrunch up your nose to try and read things.
The lenses had restored my vision back to 20/20.
Despite being a ‘natural’ it still took a bit of time for me to get used to putting on and removing the lenses – some days it only took seconds to pop them on, and other days it took a few tries to apply it correctly. I quickly learned to take a break when the lenses were being difficult, and try again few minutes later (for that very reason, I’d recommend not leaving your lenses until the last minute – make sure they’re fitted with plenty of time spare, so you don’t start panicking).
I found I could wear the lenses all day and completely forget about them, but by the evening I was slightly more conscious they were there – perhaps because my eyes were more tired by then? Taking them out became part of my nighttime routine, alongside taking off my makeup and brushing my teeth.
These days almost everyone can use and benefit from modern contact lenses – whether you’re shortsighted, longsighted or simply suffering from ‘Long-Arm Syndrome’.
With 1-Day Acuvue Moist Multifocal contact lenses you really can turn back the hands (and eyes) of time.