Am I a candidate for contact lenses?

Eye doctors get asked about contact lenses on a regular basis. We hear things like:
  • ‘Are contact lenses safe?’
  • ‘Am I a candidate for contact lenses?’
  • ‘Can you sleep in contact lenses?’
  • ‘Can people with astigmatism wear contacts?’
  • ‘How do I learn how to put contacts in?’
  • ‘Can patients who need bifocals wear contacts?’
  • ‘Can a contact lens really get stuck behind your eye?’
Getting ready to insert a contact lens

Dr. Mark Cannon preparing to put in a contact lens.

In this blog post I will attempt to address the most common contact lens questions.

Let me start out by saying that not all patients are able to wear contacts, and some of those who could wear contacts don’t really need to. The best candidate for contact lenses is a patient who already wears glasses, and needs them pretty much all day, but does not want to wear glasses all the time.

For patients who barely need glasses, contacts may be more trouble than they are worth. There are exceptions to this rule of thumb, such as patients who play competitive sports or need sharp vision on rainy days. Or maybe you would just want contacts for social events like parties and the theater.

Contact lenses are really kind of amazing game changers for a lot of our patients. Before the late 1990’s, soft contacts only worked well for patients without astigmatism. Things have definitely hanged since then. Many different contacts are now available with ‘toric’ or ‘astigmatic’ correction. This means patients with up to 2.5 diopters of cylinder (astigmatism) in their glasses Rx can wear contacts. That being said, Dr. Mark Cannon is currently fitting a patient with custom lenses and 5 diopters of astigmatism. He expects to get the patient to see 20/25 (just shy of 20/20) but they might get 20/20 vision with them.

For safety reasons, the optometrists at Cannon EyeCare will discuss best practices for wearing contacts at your eye exam or contact lens fitting. We always ask that our contact lens patients have a good pair of glasses and wear them each evening for a few hours. This allows the eyes to breathe and get back to normal before you shut your eyes and go back to sleep. When you replace contacts on time and avoid contact lens over wear (CLOW), they are quite safe. It is never a good idea to sleep in your contacts, as it increases your risk of complications.

Multifocal Contacts are the latest and greatest technology out there. There are even daily disposable versions out there now. The goal of multifocals is to give folks who need bifocals the option to wear contact lenses without needing to use reading glasses over top to see their phone, etc.

No, contact lenses cannot get stuck behind your eye. The lids are attached to the eyeball itself about 1-2cm back , so it is a ‘dead end’. Contacts can certainly get stuck up under the upper lid, but this problem is rare and can be fixed with a quick visit to your eye doctor.

Finally, if you are new to contacts, any eye doctor worth their salt will train you how to insert, remove, and care for your lenses. There is a fee for the insertion and removal training class, but this class allows the eye doctor to set you up for success. At Cannon EyeCare in Seattle, all training classes are taught by one of our doctors. In contrast, most other clinics would have a technician or optician teaching this class, which is typically fine if they know what they are doing. Almost anybody can learn to put in contacts if they are properly motivated.


Sincerely, Dr. Mark J Cannon, optometrist @ Cannon EyeCare (at Market Optical) in Seattle, Washington