Contact Lenses

Over the last decade the contact lens industry has seen an explosion in sales as the different shapes, sizes, colours and designs of the contact lenses have grown. Today, millions of people are choosing to wear contacts instead of glasses. Some are skeptical though, that a tiny disc of different material and colour can be worn on the eye daily and still provide clear comfortable vision. So read on to learn more about the different types, coloured lenses, how to take care of and health warnings about contact lenses.



Definition: A contact lens is a corrective, cosmetic or therapeutic lens placed on the cornea of the eye.

Leonardo da Vinci described and sketched the first ideas for contact lenses in 1508, but it took more than 300 years before lenses were actually worn on the eye.

Contact lenses usually serve the same corrective purposes as spectacles, but are lightweight and almost invisible. They are thin optical discs, worn directly on the eye and are held in place by layers of tears. The contact lens acts as an extension of the eye itself, correcting aberrations that cause a variety of defects.

‘Clear’ prescription contact lenses have a faint blue colour called a visibility tint to make the lenses more visible when immersed in cleaning solution. Cosmetic contact lenses are deliberately coloured to alter the appearance of the eye. Most contact lenses are surfaced treated with a UV coating to reduce UV damage to the eyes natural lens.


Contact lenses are worn for many reasons, often because of their practicality and appearance. When compared with spectacles, contact lenses are less affected by wet weatherdo not steam up and provide a wider field of vision. They are suitable for a number of sporting activities. Additionally, certain eye conditions likekeratoconus and aniseikonia cannot accurately be corrected by spectacles and contact lenses are a much better option.

Some other reasons to wear contacts are:

  • The advances in contact lens technology in recent years have given people a great amount of freedom and comfort.
  • Contact lenses move with your eye, allow a natural field of view, have no frames to obstruct your vision and greatly reduce distortions.
  • They do not fog up, like glasses, nor do they get splattered by mud or rain.
  • Contact lenses do not get in the way of your activities.
  • Many people feel they look better in contact lenses.
  • Today, almost all corrections can be done with contact lenses and more eye care professionals are recommending their use to a wide variety of patients.


Disposable soft contact lenses are normally worn from 2 weeks up to 30 days and then discarded. They are made of soft, pliable plastics that allow oxygen to reach the eye. They are easy to adapt to and comfortable to wear and are available in almost all prescriptions. They require daily removal and cleaning.

Daily wear soft disposable lenses are worn for a single day and then discarded. The major advantage of this is that there is no lens cleaning or lens care required and new lenses are worn everyday. The disadvantage is that they are not appropriate for all prescriptions and may not provide sharp enough vision for some people.

Extended-wear lenses are soft and can usually be worn continuously for up to 30 days without being removed.

Rigid gas permeable lenses (hard) are made from slightly flexible plastics that allow oxygen to pass through them. They may provide sharper vision than soft lenses and can be used to correct most vision problems. However, they do take longer to get used to them (approx. 2 to 4 weeks).

Spherical contact lenses are soft or hard lenses that contain a single prescription power.

Aspheric contact lenses are used by people with only slight astigmatism.

Toric contact lenses are soft or hard lenses that combine a spherical and cylindrical component to correct astigmatism. They are usually thicker in one area than another so they can stay in the correct position on the eye.

Bifocal or multifocal contact lenses work like bifocal or multifocal spectacles. They provide sharp vision up close and at a distance. These are usually given to patients over the age of 40.

Orthokeratology lenses are also called Ortho-K or reverse geometry lenses and are a non-surgical method of reshaping the cornea. They are worn overnight and they progressively adjust the cornea’s shape, correcting the vision defect. The effect lasts about 12 hours before reversing itself.


Coloured contact lenses have become very popular across the globe, especially in these times when it is important the way you look and to always change something about your looks. Coloured contact lenses are NOT for medical purposes; they are used to change the way a person looks i.e. purely cosmetic and decorative reasons. Coloured contact lenses have become a fashion accessory like a new bag or shoes, and they are also representing a way to have fun.

Coloured contact lenses come in many types and many styles. For dark coloured eyes, blue, grey, green and hazel are recommended. For light coloured eyes, all shades of blue, green and gray work well. There are also contact lenses that imitate the eyes of cats, or contact lenses that make you look like a vampire. The choice here is endless and can be great fun. They are becoming increasingly popular with teenagers and young adults as they seek to find their most appealing eye colour /complexion / hair colour match. Increased technology and supply has led to coloured contact lenses becoming increasingly affordable to many.

The coloured contacts are as safe as normal clear contact lenses and it is important to clean them daily, to follow exactly the rules regarding their wearing and NOT borrow them to another person.


Wearing contact lenses DOES restrict the amount of oxygen passing through the cornea and if a contact lens is worn for too long it may cause blurry vision, pain and redness. Improper cleaning and care of contact lenses can cause bacterial infections which can lead to other eye diseases. Contact lenses require greater care than spectacles because they come into direct contact with the eye. Whatever is on the lens-dust, pollen, bacteria and chemicals, also reaches the eye surface.

Always follow the optometrist’s directions, as well as manufacturer’s instructions on cleaning methods. Your optometrist should also be consulted about changing brands of solution.

Avoid swimming with contact lenses because of the risk of bacterial contamination from the pool or sea water.

Contact lenses have to be cleaned daily and should be removed for sleeping.

Potential Risks in Wearing Contact Lenses

Corneal ulcers can occur from long term contact lens use. Ulcers can cause scarring, lead to vision loss, including partial or complete blindness.

Treat your lenses with care, follow the instructions of your optometrist, clean daily, limit your wearing time and they will reward you with great comfortable vision.


It is normally not difficult to wear contact lenses. However, there are times where problems are experienced. If any of the following happens, contact your optometrist as soon as possible:

  1. Sudden onset of blurred vision,
  2. Red, irritated eyes
  3. Uncomfortable lenses
  4. Pain in and around the eyes

Following your optometrist’s advice and scheduling regular follow up visits will prevent most problems.


Here are some the other frequently asked questions I get as an optometrist who prescribes contact lenses:

1. At what age can I wear contact lenses?

With the variety of lenses now available, more people can wear contact lenses. Children as young as 8 years can wear contact lenses if they are responsible enough and properly trained. Contact lenses are normally good for their self esteem and prevent them from being teased at school. They would require more frequent follow up visits.

2. If I wear bifocals/multifocals, can I wear contact lenses?

There are many options for people who are over the age of 40 and are affected by presbyopia. Presbyopia occurs when, as part of the natural aging process, the eye’s crystalline lens loses its ability to bring close objects into clear focus.

These people would require a bifocal or multifocal contact lens to provide clear vision at distance as well as near. Another option is Monovision. This means wearing a contact lens for near vision in one eye and, if needed, a lens for distance in the other eye. A third option would be a combination of contact lenses and reading glasses.

3. If I have astigmatism- can I wear contact lenses?

Many people with astigmatism are under the impression that they can’t wear contact lenses. But nowadays, toric lenses are available and these work perfectly for astigmatism.

Astigmatism is a long word for distorted vision as a result of having an irregularly shaped cornea. Toric lenses have the ability to correct this defect and they also have a stabilizing mechanism that keeps them flush on your eye when you blink.

4. Can contact lenses damage my eyes?

If you have never worn contact lenses before, putting something in your eye can seem a daunting task. But millions of people around the world wear contact lenses without any problems. As long as you follow the basic cleaning steps, you could be one of them. Colour contacts and ‘crazy lenses’ normally arouse curiosity and envy among your friends. It is important to never, ever share them as this could cause a nasty infection.

5. What if the lens goes behind my eyeball?

It is impossible for a foreign object like a contact lens to go behind the eyeball. The worst that could happen is that the contact lens may slide and get misplaced under the eye lid. If this happens, move the eyes in the direction of the lens, which will slide back into place.

6. Is it better to get my contact lenses from an Optometrist or Ophthalmologist?

An ophthalmologist is a medical doctor and specializes in the eye. They are concerned more with eye surgery and treating eye diseases. There are a few who would specialize in contact lenses. An optometrist is trained to perform eye examinations and prescribe vision correction devices like spectacles or contact lenses. Both can give you the contact lenses you need. Find one you’re comfortable with and be assured that you are in good hands.

Health Caution: Many sites on the internet offer to buy contact lenses online. Almost all eye care professionals advise against this. Direct contact with your optometrist and regular check ups are of utmost importance.

Want to ask more about getting a pair of contacts please use our contact form below or call Pineslopes Optometrists on 011 465 4028/9

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    Sport Vision Improvement

    Do you want some sports vision improvement? Do you wish you could cut a few strokes off your golf score? Or do you always seem to be just a few steps away from the soccer ball? Maybe your having trouble returning your tennis partner’s serve? Vision, just like speed and strength, is an important component in how well you play your sport. There is much more to vision than just seeing clearly. Your vision is composed of many interrelated skills that can affect how well you play your sport. Just as exercise and practice can increase your speed and strength, it can also improve your visual fitness and accuracy.

    Photo Credit: Richard Masoner
    Because all sports have different visual demands, an optometrist with expertise in sports vision can assess your unique visual system and recommend the proper sport prescription glasses, sport contact lenses, or design a vision program to maximize your visual skills for your specific sport.

    Remember, a thorough eye examination by your optometrist is a great place to get the winning edge.

    Eye protection should also be a major concern to all athletes, especially in certain high-risk sports. There are thousands of sports related eye injuries each year, and nearly all can be prevented by using proper protective eyewear. For outdoor sports, appropriate sunglasses are a must, and some sport-specific designs may even help you improve your game. Ask your optometrist which type is best suited for your favorite sport.


    Sportsvision describes all the aspects of vision required in sport. It is much more complex than simply recording how well you can read a vision chart, or see straight ahead.

    A sports vision assessment would record:

    • Visual Acuity-how well you can see straight ahead of you
    • Eye Dominance
    • How well the eyes work together to provide 3D vision. This is directly related to timing and accuracy. Striking a ball or aiming at a goal.
    • Peripheral awareness.
    • Eye speed and ability to follow a moving target.
    • Ability to cope with poor contrast
    • Which colour filters improve your vision?


    Dynamic Visual Acuity

    If you are playing a sport like squash, tennis, rugby, soccer or hockey, it is important that you are able to see objects while you and/or the objects are moving. Without good dynamic visual acuity, these sports will be difficult for you.

    Visual Concentration

    When you miss an easy ground ball or a short putt, it may be that you are distracted by things around you. Our eyes normally react to movements in our periphery (spectators, other players or even birds flying nearby in the distance. Visual concentration is the ability to screen out these distractions and stay focused on the ball or the target.

    Eye Tracking

    Playing any sport with a fast moving ball or opponent, it is important that you be able to follow objects without much head motion. Eye tracking helps you maintain better balance and react more quickly.

    Eye-Hand-Body Co-ordination

    This is how your hands, feet, body and other muscles respond to the visual information gathered through your eyes. This is vital in most sports as it affects both timing and body control.

    Visual Memory

    When you are running towards a soccer or hockey goal or running between wickets, you need to process and remember a fast moving, complex picture of people and things. This is visual memory. The athlete with good visual memory always seems to be at the right place at the right time.


    Picture yourself hitting a perfect drive or scoring a goal from a free-kick. Believe it or not, picturing yourself doing it can actually help you do it. Visualization is the skill that enables you to see yourself performing well in your “mind’s eye” while your eyes are seeing and concentrating on something else, usually the ball. Using scanning techniques, researches have found that the same areas of the brain that light up during performance also do so when you visualize the performance.

    Peripheral Vision

    When a soccer player sees a teammate out of the corner of his eye, he is using his peripheral vision. Since much of what happens in sports does not happen directly in front of you, it’s important to increase your ability to see action to the side without having to turn your head.

    Visual Reaction Time

    The bowler releases the cricket ball and you swing a little late and you hit a weak drive down the ground or worse, you miss the ball completely. Or, maybe you have difficulty returning that tennis serve. You need to improve your visual reaction time, or the speed with which your brain interprets and reacts to your opponent’s action.

    Focus Ability

    The split second that it takes you to change focus from an object far away to one near you may delay your reaction time and cause you to frequently miss a bowler’s fast ball or miss an easy volley.

    Depth Perception

    In tennis or squash, depth perception enables you to quickly and accurately judge the distance between yourself, the ball, your opponent, teammates, boundary lines and other objects. When shooting or hunting, if you consistently over or underestimate the distance to your target, poor depth perception may be at fault.

    Vision Options for Athletes

    Enhanced sports vision skills can give an athlete a competitive advantage. Sports vision specialists can help you improve hand-eye coordination and get good protective eyewear to prevent eye injuries.

    Sport Contact Lenses

    Contact lenses give you a competitive advantage in sports, especially when it comes to providing a wider field of view.

    Eyeglasses that Enhance Sport Performance

    Glasses offer eye protection, colour enhancements, light control or a combination of features.

    Sports Vision Specialists

    Sports vision specialists can assess your athletic performance, as well as offer comprehensive training. They are eye care practitioners that have an in-depth, functional understanding of the physiology of the visual system and its importance in relation to the specific sport the athlete is involved in. They also understand the demands each sport has on the visual system before a treatment/therapy can be implemented for the athlete. Sport vision specialists also advise athletes and coaches on the prevention of eye injuries in sport as well as first aid treatment of such injuries.

    Sport Vision Tests and Therapies

    Improve eye-hand-body coordination, ability to track a moving object or improve depth perception. Sports vision therapy aims to treat a wide variety of problems that athletes face.

    Orthokeratology for Athletes

    These eye-shaping contact lenses worn only at night are a safe vision correction alternative for athletes.


    In most sport, vision is the dominant sense. One would think that seeing clearly is all that is needed to make vision dominant, right? However, vision skills required in sport are much more complex. For example, catching a ball is an extremely complicated action. Visual information from your eyes tells you where the ball is in space. Using this information, you have to judge the speed of the ball, its direction and you need to estimate where the ball will be when it is within catching distance. This all happens within a matter of milliseconds.

    Catching a ball is just one of the many actions occurring in sport and the eyes give you the visual information to perform these tasks. Studies have shown that about 23% of athletes have visual problems and about 33% for umpires, referees and officials. These deficiencies can all be corrected by a sports vision optometrist.

    If you feel that your sport performance could need some improvement, consider seeing a sports vision optometrist. Not all optometrists have an interest in sports vision and some differ in their level of expertise. Always make sure you ask the right questions i.e. level of experience, do they have all the necessary equipment to evaluate sports vision skills? Etc.

    Vision plays an important role in all sport. Improving your visual skills could make all the difference to your enjoyment of your sport.

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      Welcome to Pineslopes Optometrists

      Hello, and welcome to the Eye Guy website. My name is Nishan and I am the owner and principle Optometrist Fourways at your service at The Eye Guy here in Fourways, Sandton, Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa. What I would love to do for you is to help you understand why your eyes are so important to your health. The eyes are neglected and abused everyday till we cannot see properly anymore or we need glasses.

      I have a passion for educating people on eye health and love helping everyone to look good and see better with whatever vision needs they require. So you might be wanting your first pair of eyeglasses, a pair of contact lenses or maybe your want to customise your sport sunglasses with prescription lenses to see better. Well guess what? An optometrist can help you with those vision needs and more.

      You need to take care of your eyes as you only get one pair in your lifetime. So you should get an eye examination which you can at Pineslopes Optometrists or at least get the very basic free vision screening, so you know how healthy your eyes really are.

      Again I hope Pineslopes Optometrists can help you with your vision an optical needs and there will be plenty of information coming in the near future on eye health in our blog. In the meantime, you can read some more about the what is an optometristeye productseye health services or how to find Pineslopes Optometrists right here.

      Oh and one last added bonus, again, I want you to have  healthy vision and eyes. So if you have a question about your eyes or glasses needs, then please let me at least try get you to see an optometrist or an opthalmologist who can help you. We look forward to seeing you at Pineslopes Optometrists.


      Pineslopes Optometrist Nishan

      Remember give us a call at Pineslopes Optometrist for any eye needs on 011 465 4028/9

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