Contact lenses – the final decision

The various trials with contact lenses, trying to find the best solution for my aging eyes have all now finally come to a close. In the end I decided that the two mono-vision contact lenses gave me the best compromise for my typical daily use. So, my left eye has a “reading optimised” lens, and my right eye has a normal “distance optimised” lens. My brain then works out which eye to use for any given focal point.

Very close work is still quite severely constrained – so fiddling with tiny grub screws and gears from the insides of a clock (for example) is still a nightmare. But then I don’t tend to do that very often, and as the optician pointed out, there is nothing to stop me from using a set of cheap +1 reading glasses in addition to the contact lenses, which will bring close work into very sharp focus indeed.

So, with that decision made, it then becomes a matter of just buying the lenses & solutions. These lenses are monthly disposables, and the optician runs a scheme to pay monthly for them. The cost works out to be £11 a month to join their discount after-care scheme (which runs for a minimum period of a year), plus £12 a month for my lenses, plus £3 a month for solutions. Grand total over a year, £312.

Which was a heck of a lot more money than I was expecting. So I went off and price-checked on the internet.

Vision Direct offer a 6 month supply of exactly the same lenses for £59. A 6 month supply of their solutions are £16. So a years supply of lenses and solutions would be £150. To keep the comparison fair I would then need to allow another £50 for my next professional contact lens after-care appointment, making £200 in total.

The £112 extra for buying from the optician appears to get me a discounted price on further pairs of glasses, sunglasses, and any additional after-care appointments that I might need for free. Alternatively you could view it (as I do) as a healthy profit margin, as it’s offering facilities that the majority of customers are probably never going to use.

Contact lens update (part ii)

Today seemed like a good day to try out my newly arrived mono-vision trial contact lenses. It appears that the optician takes my “normal” distance prescription, and then applies the presbyopia, or reading component to the lens for my non-dominant (left, in my case) eye. My dominant (right) eye gets full-on distance correction, but no reading component at all. The result of this is that I can see distance perfectly through my dominant eye, which is great for driving, but I have no close-work correction in that eye at all. My non-dominant eye has perfect reading correction, and in my case, about 75% distance correction too. Good enough to drive with just that in an emergency for example.

My brain then gets to sort out the scene from the resulting visual inputs.

So far after an hour I can honestly say that the effect for distance is better than the significantly more expensive multifocal torics that I was trialing earlier. The correction is just infinitely better, with very little sign of blurring at all. The resolution of small detail at distance still isn’t quite as good as with glasses (a result of the non-dominant compromise lens I guess) but for most of what I wear my contact lenses for, this is an improvement over the multifocals.

Middle-distance working here on the computer is also fine, though there is a slightly “otherworldly” feel to the view of the screen which I’m assuming is probably the result of my brain still compensating for the new prescriptions. If it settles down (or I get used to it) I suspect it will be perfectly satisfactory.

Sadly, the really close-vision work with small type-faces is not as good as the multifocals. The vision through those was simply spectacular, whereas with the single vision lens (at the moment) I still seem to have some blurring. However it’s extremely early days yet – with only an hour for me to get used to the new prescription, and the close-vision change being the most dramatic, this is what I’d probably have expected. It will be interesting to see how I’ve adapted in another couple or hours, and then again in another couple of days.

At the moment I’m sufficiently impressed with this set-up that I’m going to stick with them for a few days, and see how they work out, particularly when driving at night. If the close vision improves even moderately then I think for my current needs this set-up could be better for me than the multifocals, which is both interesting and wallet-friendly.

If not then it will be interesting to work out what to trial next. If, as I suspect, the close-vision is the problem with the mono-vision lenses, then I think the next best option ought to be be to try a mono-vision distance lens in my non-dominant eye, with the varifocal in my dominant eye. Unfortunately however, I don’t have the right lenses for that. My options are (a) to put the compromised “reader lens” in my non-dominant eye, and the varifocal in my dominant eye – which would give me poor distance vision in both eyes again, or (b) go for the distance lens in my dominant eye, and the varifocal in my non-dominant eye, which I suspect may tighten up my distance vision a little more, but make no difference to my close-work. Interesting choices.

I wonder if this could end up with my needing to get yet another trial contact lens to test out a “reading-compromised” mono-vision lens in my dominant eye, with a varifocal in my non-dominant? Or, could it simply mean that I’m just too fussy and need to go for proper mono-vision distance correction, and carry a set of reading glasses too?

Decisions, decisions! 🙂

Contact lens update

Today my fortnight trial with these new multifocal contact lenses finished, and I went back to the optician to discuss my experiences.
My view to date (ho ho!) is that the close-vision is absolutely superb, but the middle-far vision is slightly blurred compared to my normal spectacle-vision. It’s also worse at night and when I’m tired.

Talking to the optician, it transpires that this is not unusual. As I’ve mentioned before, as a short-sighted person I’m used to having my vision corrected to well beyond 20/20, and these lenses are a compromise solution that just can’t compete with that. However, maintaining my “better than 20/20” vision is going to require that I have at least 3 pairs of spectacles to hand, which is not terribly practical. Whereas these contact lenses have the practicality side of the equation completely nailed down – put them in and forget them.

Anyway, the optician gave me a complete test again (this time with the contact lenses in place) and tried to see if he could improve the vision slightly with any changes to the prescription. It turns out that he can’t. What I have is currently the best that contact lenses have to offer for someone with my vision defects.

However, there are some further options for me to try out before making any decisions. So, to that end I’m going to also get some standard “mono-vision” contact lens to trial. One will be a distance lens, and the other will be a reading lens. I then get to try out those together (one in each eye) to see how well that works for me, and assuming no spectacular “road to Damascus” revelation in terms of clarity of vision, then to try out the mono-vision distance-lens with one of my varifocals. It will be interesting to see how each of these options works in practice. The optician’s going to post the mono-vision lens to me later in the week, so more news on that when it happens.

My feeling at the moment though is that if we can’t get a significant improvement in the distance vision with the varifocals by some combination of the above approaches then I’ll probably choose to accept the degraded distance-vision and stick with the varifocals, at least for a longer trial period (say the next year or so) purely because the convenience is just so good.

Contact lens update

One week in, and I’ve been wearing the multifocal contact lenses most of the time I’ve been awake (see previous posts). Today has been the first day that I didn’t wear them, and that was simply that in the mad rush of the start of the day, I forgot to put them in, and once I’d remembered, it was too late to go back home to get them!

Overall I have very mixed feelings about the lenses. The close-to vision correction is absolutely superb, but the distance correction just isn’t as good as I’m used to with my current glasses. And, sadly, it gets worse when I’m tired. However, the convenience is excellent. I pop them in in the morning, and take them out before going back to bed at night, and between times I forget about them.

On talking to a friend who is “in the industry” it turns out that the distance correction with these lenses is never as good as you get with either glasses, or normal contact lenses. It also turns out that people like me, with short-sight, are especially difficult to please as we are used to having our vision corrected to significantly better than 20/20 by the opticians. Certainly when I compared my distance vision through the lenses to my wifes vision (she has long-sight) there was little difference. However, it was still definitely less good than I was used to with my glasses. So there may be an expectation setting exercise involved in this too.

But the bottom line at the moment has me wondering if the optician can tweak them a little to give me just a little bit more distance vision clarity. If so, I’m probably sold on them. If not then I wonder what we can do with one distance and one close-to lens?

Still, I have another week to go yet. Let’s see where I am with them by Saturday of next week.

Long & short sighted at the same time

I’ve been fairly short-sighted all my life … around -4.5 to -5.5 dioptres. Which is enough that you can’t even tell that there are adverts on the side of buses. We found this out when I was in my early teens, and I wore glasses until my early twenties when I first tried contact lenses. I wore those until my mid-thirties when I found I was spending so much time living on aeroplanes and swapping timezones that my eyes were just constantly tired and “scratchy”.

So I switched back to glasses, and apart from a brief fling with some daily disposables, which I didn’t think fitted very well, that’s where I’ve been ever since.

Except that in the intervening years I now have astigmatism in both eyes, and thanks to the passing of those years, I also have the onset of presbyopia too. This is where the crystalline lens in your eye becomes less soft, making it harder for the muscles in your eye to squeeze it into the shape that is needed for you to focus on nearby objects. This happens without exception to everyone in their early to mid-forties; some people are just better at putting up with it than others. However like most short-sighted people, I’m very fussy about my eyesight, and was finding my inability to get good close-to vision very frustrating.

Options are pretty much five-fold:

  1. Normal and reading glasses
  2. Bi- or Varifocal glasses
  3. Normal contact lenses & reading glasses
  4. One long vision and one reading vision contact lens
  5. Varifocal contact lenses

All have advantages and disadvantages. The first three require several pairs of glasses to enable you to cope with all circumstances – normal vision, close-to work, and sunglasses. The latter pair require that your brain be able to accommodate & compensate for the ways that the lenses work – something that some people apparently cannot readily do.

I most like the idea of the last option, which should provide pretty much total correction for my problems. Even better, CooperVision have recently created a version of this lens that provides astigmatic correction too, in a material which is completely transparent to oxygen, which means that there is significantly less problem with keeping the eyes in good condition while wearing the lenses from first waking to bedtime.

And so today I’m starting a trial to see how well they work for me, and whether or not I’m one of the people whose brain can work out how to look through the lenses to get the right visual correction, and whether that resulting vision will be clear enough to satisfy my rather fussy requirements. The trial will take about a fortnight, when I’ll head back to the opticians to see how well I’m getting on with them. At that point we’ll need to evaluate whether or not the results are good enough for me to live with long term. Otherwise we’ll have to try some of the other options.

So far the correction at close distances is superb. Reading is easy and comfortable. Suddenly I don’t need longer arms any more! However, the long distance vision is less good than I was expecting, with a lot of blurring. I guess this is because (with only 4 hours practice) my brain hasn’t quite worked out to best use the information that its being presented with yet.

So fingers crossed I can “get it”, as it will mean no need for multiple pairs of glasses, and the ability to wear normal (rather than insanely overpriced!) sunglasses again. Which will be nice.