What Teens and Parents Need To Know About Contact Lenses

Do you want contact lenses but your parents need convincing? Most parents are skeptical about contact lenses because:

  • They have never worn them and know nothing about them,

  • Or they previously used contact lenses but don’t anymore. In this case they might have some out of date ideas. Contact lenses used to be less comfortable and much harder to take care of in the past.
  • Or your parents wear contacts now, but they may wonder if contacts are safe for a younger person.

What Teens and Parents Need To Know About Contact Lenses

Here are some common questions I get asked about contact lenses:

How old do you have to be to wear contact lenses?

There is no age limit. Babies can wear them, and so can seniors. Most optometrists will encourage contact lenses from the age of 8 years. You just need to be responsible enough to take care of them.

Why not just wear glasses?

Teen are self-conscious, and often feel more attractive and accepted if they don’t have a pair of glasses in front of their eyes. Contact lenses give you greater self-esteem and you feel more at ease around others. They also offer a great advantage with all types of sport.

How much care do contact lenses require?

All you need is one bottle of multipurpose solution and a case. Certain types of contacts like dailies don’t need to be cleaned because you will throw them away at the end of the day.

Do you need a prescription to get contact lenses?

Yes. A contact lens is a medical device and it must be fitted properly on the eye. If not, serious eye infections can occur. This is true even for colour or cosmetic contact lenses. This is why they must be fitted by an optometrist, who will measure the proper size, shape and power of the lenses.

If I have astigmatism or a strong prescription, do I have to wear glasses instead?

Not anymore. These days, contact lens designs are able to correct all types of vision problems including astigmatism.

Are contact lenses comfortable?

Modern lenses are very soft and you don’t even realize that they are in your eyes. Also, your optometrist has specialized equipment to measure your eyes and make sure the lenses fit comfortably.

What about colour contacts?

These colour contact lenses are fun and safe, just as long as they have been fitted and prescribed by an optometrist. Never buy them online or anywhere else without a prescription. And never share them with your friends. Serious eye infections can be passed along this way.

What if contact lenses just don’t work out?

Sometimes, your optometrist may feel that contact lenses are not the best option for you now, but it may be in a year or so. If this is the case, you can always go back to wearing glasses and re-try contacts later on.

So educate your parents today and they might want contact lenses for themselves and for you!

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    Presbyopia – Reading Difficulties

    Ever heard of presbyopia? If you’re over the age 40, you have probably noticed changes in your vision. Most noticeably, would be changes in your near vision. This is called Presbyopia. It is the normal age-related loss of near focusing ability.

    When you develop presbyopia, you may find that you need to hold books, magazines, newspapers, menus and other reading material at arms length in order to focus clearly. Near work, like writing or sewing may cause headaches, eye strain or you may feel tired.


    What Causes Presbyopia?

    Presbyopia is caused by an age-related process. It is due to the loss of elasticity and hardening of the natural lens inside your eye. As a result the eye has a harder time focusing up close. It differs from astigmatism, short-sightedness or far-sightedness, which are related to the shape of the eyeball and are caused by genetic and environmental factors.

    Treatment Options for Presbyopia

    The best way of treating presbyopia is with eyeglasses. Surgery is the other option.

    Eyeglasses with bifocal or multifocal (progressive) lenses are the most common correction for presbyopia. Bifocal lenses have 2 focus points:

    1. The upper portion of the spectacle lens is designed for distance vision,
    2. The lower portion of the lens is designed for near vision.

    The two portions of the eyeglasses are separated by a line.

    Multifocal (progressive) lenses have a more gradual vision change between the two prescriptions, with no visible line between them.

    Reading glasses are another choice. Unlike bifocals or multifocals, which you would wear all day, reading glasses are worn just during close work.

    If you wear contact lenses, your optometrist can prescribe reading glasses, which you wear while your contact lenses  are in.

    Multifocal contact lenses are also an option. These contact lenses work just as multifocal eyeglasses would, giving you clear vision at all distances.

    Monovision is an option where one eye is corrected for distance and the other is corrected for near.

    Your optometrist will discuss the best option for you.

    The natural lens in your eye continues to change as you get older. Therefore, your presbyopia prescription will need to be increased over time as well. Your optometrist will prescribe a stronger correction for near work as you need it.

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      Computer Vision Syndrome

      Computer vision syndrome (CVS) most often occurs when the viewing demand of the task exceeds the visual abilities of the computer user. Because computer use is such a visually demanding task, vision problems and computer vision syndrome symptoms are very common. Most studies indicate that computer users report more eye-related problems than non-computer office workers. Studies also show that visual discomfort occurs in 75-90% of computer users.

      Computer Vision Syndrome Symptoms

      Here are some of the most common symptoms optometry patients will com in complaining of with computer vision syndrome:

      • Eyestrain
      • Headaches
      • Blurred vision (distance and/or near)
      • Dry and irritated eyes
      • Slow refocusing
      • Neck and/or backache
      • Light sensitivity
      • Double vision
      • After images and colour distortion

      Reflections and Glare

      The most common complaint of computer users is glare. Glare is created by improper lighting in the workspace. The two main sources are from light directly shining into the eyes (direct glare e.g. light from an overhead light) and from reflections from surrounding surfaces (reflected glare e.g. white paper).

      Anti-glare filters which fit over the display screen are readily available. It makes it easier to read your screen and helps your productivity. It must be pointed out, however, that anti-glare filters themselves are not necessarily the entire solution to visual stress on computers.


      Controlling the lighting of the workspace is critical in maintaining proper visual efficiency. Always turn off offending lights. If you notice glare on a screen from a light source, turn it off. Most offices have been designed for paper work and are overly lit for computer use.

      Re-orient the work station so that bright lights are not in the field of view. Many people make the mistake of placing their computers right in front of a window, wishing to capitalize on a scenic view. This causes a lot of discomfort glare. The best solution is usually vertical blinds because they can be adjusted to allow for a view while re-directing glare.

      Brightness and Contrast

      Adjust the display settings on your computer so that the brightness of the screen is about the same size as your work environment. Ideally, your font size should be about 3 times larger than the smallest font size you can see from a normal viewing position. Black text on a white background is the best colour combination for your eyes.

      Work Habits

      Viewing a computer screen attracts the attention of the viewer more so than any paper object. Because of this, we ‘forget’ to blink. Blinking is an automatic reflex and beyond our conscious efforts. Studies have shown that there is less blinking while viewing a computer screen and this also causes dry eyes. One reason for this is because of the height of the monitor. Because it is in a higher field of view, the eyes are wider open. This creates a wider gap between the eyelids making blinking more of an effort. By lowering the screen, the size of this gap is reduced and allows the lids to blink easier. Also the use of artificial tears can help a great deal. Ask your optometrist which brand he recommends.

      When office work still involved typewriters, pencils and paper, there was a great deal of physical activity in the work area. Hands were moving in all directions to insert paper, return the typewriter carriage, grab a pencil or turn a page. Office workers were getting up to make copies, deliver papers to another office, look for carbon paper and other types of physical tasks. With the integration of computers into the workplace, much of these movements are accomplished by the push of a button. Our bodies are designed for movement and should be moved routinely.

      This holds especially true for the visual system. Our eyes have many muscles associated with them. If these muscles are ‘stuck’ in the same position for extended periods of time, they will adversely affect vision. Taking visual breaks is a very easy thing to do because they do not involve leaving the desk and do not have to be long in duration.

      A micro break consists of simply looking into the distance every 10-15 minutes. This should be done for 15 seconds.

      A mini break should be performed every 30 minutes and involves closing the eyes for about 2 minutes.

      A maxi break should follow along with your routine work breaks where you get up and move around for at least 15 minutes. This should be done every 2 hours.

      This scheme will allow the eyes to change their viewing condition regularly and still allow the worker to produce effectively.

      Computer Glasses

      Most prescribed eyeglasses are for general purposes: driving, movies, TV, shopping, allowing you to perform a variety of tasks. However, there are also task specific lenses which are made for you to do a specific task. Computer glasses are designed with these types of lenses.

      A ‘computer’ prescription is any lens which allows you to see the display screen clearly and comfortably. They do not, however, necessarily allow clear vision at any other distance. There are a number of combination lenses which allow for this type of vision. If your bifocals or multifocals don’t give you much comfort, consider a pair of computer glasses.

      Anti-Reflective Coatings

      A normal eyeglass lens only allows 92% of light to pass completely through it. The remainder of the light is reflected by the front or back surface. However, a coating applied to the front surface of the lens cancels out this reflection and allows 99% of the light to pass through. This has a double benefit to the general eyeglass wearer. Firstly, it allows your eyes to be more visible to someone looking at you. Secondly, the anti-reflective coating, by allowing more light to pass through them, also makes the view through the lenses more distinct.

      This is most noticeable by viewing lights at night, whereby you might normally notice glare around street lights or oncoming headlights. The anti-reflective coating allows lights to pass through the lens without the extra glare or distortion. These lenses make all types of viewing easy on the eyes.

      Where to buy Computer Glasses?

      Always try to avoid buying over the counter reading glasses for use on a computer. An accurate eye glass prescription is essential if you want to get the full benefits of computer glasses. It’s best to purchase this eyewear from a trained eye care professional like an optometrist.

      Before scheduling your appointment, measure the distance from your computer screen to the bridge of your nose. This measurement will help your optometrist prescribe the optimum lens power for your computer glasses.

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        Choosing Your Perfect Eyeglass Frames

        Today I want to help you with choosing your perfect eyeglass frames. If the eyes are the windows to the soul, then the frames around them should reflect the wearer. Because people generally recognize you by your face, the eyeglasses you choose to wear are a very real part of your identity. Whether you want to appear sophisticated, youthful, conservative or style-conscious, the right eyewear can help you shape how you are perceived, and if you choose to wear only one pair of frames for everything you do; that says a lot about you too.

        For some celebrities, glasses form part of their identity. Comedian Drew Carey continued to wear glasses for this reason even after getting corrective laser eye surgery. John Lennon wore his round lens spectacles from his time with the Beatles to his death. Elton John is still noted for wearing odd coloured glasses. In pop culture, glasses was the only disguise Superman needed to hide his alter ego, Clark Kent.

        Matching Eyeglass Frames to Face Shapes

        Here are some general tips when choosing eyeglass frames:

        1. Eyewear should repeat your personal best feature, e.g. a blue frame to match blue eyes.

        2. The frame size should be in scale with your face size.

        3. And most important, the frame shape should contrast your face shape.

        So if you have a round face made up mostly of soft curves, you’ll look best in angular or square frames. And if you have a more angular or narrow face (rectangular or square), go for a rounded style. If your face is heart shaped, try something delicate like semi-rimless or rimless style, to balance the narrowness of the chin. For those with an oval face, you are free to experiment, since any style will suit you.

        The key is to avoid a round shape frame on a round face, because contrast is what creates emphasis and balances your features.

        What Do Your Frames Say About You?

        Your choice of frames can either show people the real you or it can create an image you want them to see. The idea is to choose an eyeglass frame to match your personality and lifestyle; What activities do you take part in? What type of work do you do? What do you need your spectacles for?

        Most people benefit from more than one pair of eyeglasses for different occasions, just as you would need more than one pair of shoes, for sport, cocktail parties, office etc.

        So, are you a fast paced business man, an outdoor enthusiast, a busy mum, a pensioner or a student? Are you a creative person, like an artist? Or like most people, do you have a lifestyle with a number of different activities?

        Here are some tips when choosing eyeglass frames for your specific lifestyle.

        1. Eyeglasses for Serious Business

        A conservative looking frame works best. It looks professional and will instill trust and confidence in you business clients and colleagues.

        -Try to avoid bright colours and unusual shapes.

        -Titanium and stainless steel are always good choices

        -Rimless and semi-rimless gives that professional look in frame styles.

        In terms of colour, silver, gunmetal, brown and black are recommended for men.

        Brown, golden tones, silver and burgundy are good choices for women.

        2. Eyeglasses for The Creative

        Show your creative side with modern shapes and geometric designs. Thicker and larger plastic frames work well. Try unusual colours like blue, green and purple. Multi coloured frames are another possibility.

        3. Frames for the Modern Baby Boomer or Senior

        Just because you are eligible for pension, doesn’t mean you should wear stodgy, old fashioned frames. Those huge old fashioned metal frames in aviator shapes should be thrown out! Everyone wants to look young and modern. Your frames should be uplifting for the face such as upswept rectangles for men and cat eye shapes for women. Certain colours can also make you look younger. A slight shine to a frame adds life to the face of a woman. Avoid dull, boring colours.

        4. Frames for Campus

        University or college is a time to develop your own identity and show your style.

        On campus, there are no constraints. So you have the freedom to choose bright eye catching colours, unusual shapes and interesting details. These are all available in a number of brand names.

        5. Eyewear for the Busy Mum or Dad

        For a busy parent, with little time to worry about the latest trends, a basic yet stylish pair of spectacles works best.

        Ovals, upswept rectangles and soft cat eye shapes are very functional and still look great. Depending on you personal style, you could try a basic frame shape with details of diamante accents or a recognizable designer logo.

        Colours such as plum, deep red, light green and black can also add a fashion edge to a basic frame.

        6. Glasses for the Weekend Warrior

        Most adults live dual lives- their normal 9 to 5 weekday life and their more active life on the weekends. Just as dress shoes are wrong for the gym, your regular 9 to 5 glasses are the wrong choice for sport and active wear. For the best comfort, performance and safety during “weekend warrior” hours, choose at least one pair of sport sunglasses or sport eyeglasses. See blog on Sports Vision.


        We all like convenience. But the truth is, there are many aspects to your life and personality. And to complement your multi- dimensional lifestyle, you need more than one pair of eyeglasses. New frames are a great way to update your look without buying a whole new wardrobe.

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          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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            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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