Corrective eyewear refers to glasses or contact lenses designed to allow your eyes to focus light directly onto the retina – the light-sensitive part of the eye – for clear vision. People with refractive errors – vision problems that arise due to the eye’s inability to focus light correctly – need corrective eyewear to see well.
About 75% of people in the US use vision correction, and everyone will need its accessories with age. There are four major refractive errors for which people need corrective eyewear:
Myopia is shortsightedness caused by the incoming light focusing in front of the retina due to an elongated eyeball.
Concave eyewear corrects this error by increasing the distance light entering the eye will travel to focus it on the retina.
Hyperopia is the opposite of myopia. It is farsightedness caused by light entering the eye and focusing behind the retina due to a shortened eyeball. Convex eyewear corrects this error by decreasing the distance light entering the eye will travel to focus it directly on the retina.
Astigmatism is a refractive error that occurs when light entering the eye focuses on multiple points due to the uneven shape of the cornea or lens, leading to blurred or distorted vision.
Special eyewear corrects astigmatism by creating multiple focus points that allow light to focus on a single point.
Presbyopia is the age-related loss of the eye’s ability to focus on objects, leading to difficulty reading or seeing close objects clearly. This error is corrected using eyewear with monovision or multifocal lenses.
Vital Things to Know Before Using Corrective Eyewear
Before you use corrective eyewear, here are five basic things you should know:
Corrective Eyewear Types
Eyeglasses and contact lenses are the two main types of corrective eyewear. Most people who need vision correction use either one of them, while others alternate between both. Glasses are more commonly used than contact lenses usually because of their ease of use and little maintenance requirements.
There are several types of glasses, and the form of corrective glasses an individual uses depends primarily on their visual needs. Corrective glasses may be mono-focal, bifocal, trifocal, or progressive.
Contact lenses are made from soft plastic materials and rest directly on the eyes. They are comfortable and provide crisp, clear vision. Contact lenses come in different classifications like disposable, extended-wear, soft, hard, or toric. The choice of contact lenses depends on several factors, including prescription, lifestyle, and individual preferences.
Choice of Corrective Eyewear
The type of eyewear to choose is another basic thing anyone should know before getting any. Your choice of glasses or contact lenses depends on one or more of these factors:
Prescription and Comfort
Glasses and contact lenses perform the same function, but your prescription may make you more suited to one than the other. A comprehensive eye check is the best way to determine which prescription is best for you.
Comfort also counts when deciding between contacts or glasses. You may want to go for contacts if you don’t like the feel of glasses against your face. However, someone who dislikes the idea of placing a solid object directly on their eyes may prefer glasses.
Lifestyle and Personality
Your corrective eyewear can double as a fashion accessory. You can opt for glasses with frames that tallies your style or colored prescription contacts that alter your eye color. If you are into sports and physical activities, contact lenses may be your preferred choice of eyewear, provided you are not engaging in water sports.
Corrective Eyewear Cost
So how much do contact lenses cost compared to glasses? This is a significant factor, especially if you are looking for eyewear on a budget. On average, glasses are more cost-effective than contacts in the long term.
For glasses, you would expect to spend between $100 and $300 for lenses, while you may spend between $50 and $1000 for your frames. You can use your glasses till your prescription changes, and you only pay a premium cost for designer frames.
Contact lenses have a wider price range, and factors like prescription, replacement schedule, lens material, and brand influence the pricing of contacts.
For non-disposable contacts, you also have to consider the cost of maintenance supplies like solutions and contact lens cases.
Based on these factors, you would expect to spend anywhere from $200 to $1,400 yearly on your contact lens.
Caring for Corrective Eyewear
The eyes are very delicate organs, so it is crucial to consider the safety of your eyewear. Not caring for your eyewear properly can put you at risk of eye infections that can severely compromise your vision.
Glasses have the edge over contacts when it comes to cleaning and maintenance. They require little cleaning, and you only have to wipe off your lenses and frames with a clean, wet towel before use. Glasses do not touch your eyes directly, so there is little risk of infection.
Contact lenses, on the other hand, require a precise cleaning routine for safe use. You must clean your contacts with the approved solution before wearing them daily. Contact wearers must store contacts in the approved solution after taking them off.
Disposable contacts are available for people who prefer contacts but do not want the hassle of cleaning or storage. These contacts are single-use lenses that you discard and replace with a fresh pair daily.
Living Without Corrective Eyewear
Is it possible to get vision correction without wearing corrective eyewear? The short answer is yes. You can correct refractive errors permanently and not have to use contacts or glasses.
Laser eye surgery, commonly known as LASIK, is used to correct refractive errors. It involves using a laser to reshape the cornea to allow light entering the eye to focus properly on the retina. This procedure is simple and painless, taking less than 30 minutes for both eyes.
Speak with your doctor to confirm if you qualify for LASIK. Some people who have this procedure may need to wear glasses intermittently.
Refractive errors are common, and most people will require corrective eyewear at some point in their lives. Arming yourself with basic information about contact lenses or glasses will help you choose the ideal eyewear. Thus, it would be best to also seek a doctor’s advice before deciding on what eyewear to use.