Wildcard Weekend: Contact Lenses

I’ve worn glasses since I was in kindergarten.  As a wee one, my mother aways used to say, “You sit too close to the TV.  Scoot back.” That should have been a sign, but my vision problems went undiagnosed until Betty Courtway, my kindergarten teacher, pointed out to my mother what the problem was.  Like father, like son.  I’m colorblind, too.

GmanViz via Compfight

When I was a teen, I tried to wear contact lenses.  At great expense, my mother took me to the optometrist who fitted me for lenses, taught me how to put them in and take them out, and sent me on my way.  I have astigmatism, which requires a special kind of lens which must not only be in the correct eye and facing right side out, but also rotated the right amount.  My problem back then was that my lenses kept rotating, which resulted in suddenly blurred vision when I moved my head.

Back to eyeglasses.

When I had my eyes checked this year, I inquired about contact lenses again.  A friend who works in the field told me that advances had been made in lens stabilization since the 1990’s, and that affordable lenses that actually stay put are on the market.  With that knowledge in hand, I put up the $150 for a “professional lens fitting.”  My eye care provider explained that the fee covered “as many visits and trial pairs as it takes” to find a good match.

It took about 5 or 6 visits and I’m not sure how many lenses.  The first pair of lenses worked when I put them in, but once they “settled,” vision became blurry.  I was asked to give it a week for my eyes to adjust to having contact lenses.  For a week, I couldn’t see very well.  I returned, and the optometrist said, “Well, it looks like your right eye is doing fine, but your left eye — hmm.  The lens wants to sit 15 degrees off.”  This wasn’t easy the first time I tried it in my teen years, and it wasn’t easy this time, either.  I had fronted the money, though, so I stuck with it.

The optometrist suggested we try a pair that was 15 degrees the other direction to counteract the way the lenses sat in my eye.  It sounded logical, so I took the new pair for a spin.  This pair was alright for a good part of the day, but occasionally I’d blink and they’d seat “correctly,” causing my vision to go out of whack again.  I’d have to pull the lens with my finger to see right again.  Clearly not something I wanted to be doing several times a day.

Back to the optometrist’s office.  This time, she recommended a different, more expensive brand of lens that uses a different stabilization technology.  She didn’t have my exact prescription in stock, so she gave me something “close enough” to try out while we waited for my trial pair to be ordered and arrive.  For another week, I was walking around half blind.

The second type of lens was much more stable in my eye, and once the pair in my exact prescription arrived, I eagerly popped them in.  Off I went, testing these for another week.  What I found was that the first type of lens yielded better vision when they were seated properly, but that this type of lens gave me reliably mediocre vision.

So I was left with 3 options:  Abandon contacts, forfeiting my $150 sunk cost, go with good vision some of the time, or settle for mediocre yet stable vision.  I chose stability.  The lenses that I have are Acuvue Oasys for Astigmatism, and they’re expensive at the optometrist’s office.  I ordered one box for each eye from them and decided to try to find a better deal elsewhere.

I searched online, and I was able to find a year’s supply for $212 shipped from OptiContacts.  With the manufacturer’s $50 rebate for new customers, I though the price was quite reasonable.  The optometrist wanted nearly $400 for a year’s supply.  As a bonus of paying the $150 professional fitting fee, the optometrist threw in a “free” pair of glasses.  I often wear them on weekends.

glasses vs contacts

Each look is different, but it’s nice to have options.  What I wasn’t anticipating about contact lenses was the cost of upkeep.  Each quarter, I have to throw away the little plastic lens case used to sterilize the lenses at night.  My optometrist is adamant that I use a particular brand of lens solution, as well, which is an added expense.  When I’m traveling, too, contact lenses are a bit more of a chore to maintain than eyeglasses.

I’m glad I did it.  I’m accustomed to my stable, “not quite as good as eyeglasses” vision, and I’m very glad I did my research online to find a reputable source for discount lenses.  Get out your Googler and shop around when it’s time to have your prescription updated.

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3 thoughts on “Wildcard Weekend: Contact Lenses

  1. Neville Sarkari says:

    If you’re a candidate, get LASIK surgery done. No more lenses, cleaning solution, maintenance, and perfect vision too…In the long run you’ll save money!

    • Daniel says:

      But my eyes will “go” at middle age and I’ll be right back to glasses, right?

      • Neville Sarkari says:

        You might end up in reading glasses a couple of years sooner, but you’ll end up in them either way, regardless. The surgery can fix your astigmatism and distance simultaneously. My wife had it done at age 42 and is very happy with it.

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