“Too Old for Contact lenses? Probably Not!

For myopic ( or shortsighted) people the choice is made early in life. If you are 16 and can’t see past the end of your arm, you know you need to wear corrective lenses most or all of the time and for these teenagers, contact lenses are an obvious choice. You can play sports with them, you have good all-round vision and importantly, even for those who love their fashion spectacle frames, contact lenses are a good choice on nights out. The vast majority of our first-time contact lens wearers are in their teens or early twenties and the majority of these are short-sighted.

For the hypermetropic person, often this is not even a consideration until the late thirties or early forties. The flexible crystalline lens inside the eye means that the long-sighted person can “get by” sometimes putting glasses on just to read or sometimes being totally unaware that they are longsighted. But like many things, with increasing age, that flexible lens slowly becomes less flexible and the hypermetropic person finds that first, reading and looking at computers are a problem, then gradually things in the distance become less clear. From the mid-forties onwards, this means many of our patients need either separate pairs of glasses for different tasks or the more convenient varifocals which allow clear vision at all distances.

I am often surprised when these patients, having become totally dependant on spectacles, after a lifetime of “perfect vision” say “I’d love to get contact lenses but I suppose I’m too old now. There seems to be a misconception about that the eyes become less tolerant as one gets older or that there is an upper age limit to contact lens wear.

Well, there isn’t! It is true that the eyes can become dryer with age but the advent of silicone-hydrogel lenses means that only those with quite a severe dry eye problem will be unable to tolerate contact lenses. And more importantly, in the past few years, contact lens manufacturers have realised that there is a growing demand for correction for presbyopia and there is much more choice now even for varifocal wearers. We now have a good choice of multifocal contact lenses, which allow the wearer to see clearly in the distance and also read the menu in a restaurant. They also afford the wearer much more choice when it comes to sunglasses, with your contact lenses in, you can choose any sunglasses you want, without being restricted to those which can be made up in prescription. You may not want to wear the lenses every day but it is nice to go out to a restaurant and be specs-free or to go to a wedding without having to consider how your new hat will go with your glasses.

So, ask us about contact lenses! You may actually hear the answer you would like!