Contact Lenses

Why Contact Lenses are the best choice of eyewear

Copyright © 2007 Jay Smith

There was a time I'm sure when having some form of visual impairment was generally considered a bit of a downer, an unfortunate affliction that one might associate with social awkwardness. Think of all those geeky stereotypes littered across television from the 50's onwards, the fragile, physically inept dork with, inevitably, a pair of thick-rimmed prescription specs perched crookedly on his (or very occasionally her) nose. The knowing archetype would, I reckon, be Milhouse in the Simpsons.

Whilst this hackneyed character continues to crop up occasionally, the stigma attached to those requiring some form of visual correction seems an ever more distant memory. For one, the bespectacled dork cliché was long ago embraced by the fashion world, lent an air of dandyish credibility by those seeking a new outré fashion accessory. Wonder down any High street now and it'll be clear that this reinvention has stretched way beyond geek-chic circles – it seems the Milhouse archetype has become something of an icon for noughties mainstream style.

Beyond this however, the biggest revolution in corrective eyewear has surely been the seemingly unstoppable popularisation of the contact lens. Where once they were cumbersome, uncomfortable and potentially damaging slabs of rigid plastic, continuous technological advances have made them a convenient, almost imperceptible alternative to specs. These days the burgeoning contact lens market (125 million people now use them) is offered a dizzying array of options to suit the individuals particular needs. Those who might once have been put off by the likelihood of discomfort or expense are undoubtedly now being swayed by new developments such as disposable lenses that don't need cleaning, lenses made using silicone hydrogel that can be worn safely all the time and increasingly effective multi-focal lenses. Thanks to Toric lenses the option is also now available to sufferers of astigmatism or myopia who were previously denied the opportunity.

One of the most significant developments related to the continual advancement of contact lens technology has been the improved accessibility to sports and other active pursuits for people with less than perfect eyesight. As a wearer of glasses who enjoys the odd game of football I've always faced the dilemma - keep the specs on and duck out of every header or take them off and end up getting flack for continually passing to the opposition. In many cases contact lenses have been enthusiastically embraced by sportspeople, not only because they offer an alternative to impractical glasses but because they will often improve depth perception and peripheral vision - obviously important factors in most sports.

Wearing contact lenses might once have represented a slightly inconvenient admission of vanity but their appeal now extends well beyond wanting to look good or even a reluctance to wear glasses. Contacts increasingly make sense as a lifestyle choice - a convenient and no longer particularly expensive solution to imperfect vision that you barely notice you're wearing. In many ways the world of corrective eye wear has witnessed something of a reversal - where once glasses were the practical but not very style conscious option it seems increasingly that the only reason one might choose them over contacts is as a fashion choice.

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