Champions of National Eye Health Week. Monday 13 - Sunday 19 June 2011

Common questions about contact lenses

People of all ages can wear contact lenses with regular, bifocal, and multifocal lenses available, contact lenses are a great option for people whose sight loss is deteriorating with age. Yet only one in ten people over 45 who need vision correction choose contact lenses and only 1% of people over 65. Nearly a quarter of people over 40 who chose spectacles over contact lenses did so for “better vision”, despite the fact that contact lenses can treat a range of vision problems, including those that develop with age.

The number of people who wear contact lenses in the UK has risen steadily over the last 20 years; nearly 3.5 million people now choose contact lenses to correct their vision.


Myth Busting

Are contact lenses uncomfortable?

It only takes a couple of minutes to get used to wearing contact lenses. Lots of people find after the first few seconds it feels like they are wearing nothing at all.

Are contact lenses difficult to take care of?

Looking after contact lenses can be incredibly simple. Most reusable lenses require just one type of solution and disposable lenses require no cleaning at all: just throw them away at the end of the day!

I've heard that contact lenses shouldn't be worn by people over the age of 40. Is that true?

There is no upper age limit for wearing contact lenses. Eyes get drier with age, but new contact lens materials provide better all-day comfort than ever before. Plus with regular, bifocal, and multifocal lenses available, contact lenses are a great option for people whose sight loss is deteriorating with age. You will only have problems wearing lenses if:

  • Your eyes are affected by allergies
  • You have uncontrollable diabetes, severe arthritis in your hands or an overactive thyroid
  • Your eyes are particularly dry because you are on medication

Is it true that the contact lens can move right round the back of your eye?

Because of the structure of the eye it is impossible to lose a lens behind it. A thin membrane stretches between the eyelids, covering the eye. The contact lens sits in front of this and the membrane prevents the lens from moving behind the eye.

Can you sleep in contact lenses?

Some Contact Lenses have been specifically designed and licensed for overnight wear. CooperVision's Biofinity range of breathable monthly lenses maintain a high level of water to ensure the lens remains soft and flexible, delivering comfort throughout the day*.

*Biofinity lenses are suitable for occasional overnight or up to 29 night's continuous wear under the guidance of your eye care practitioner.

See your optician to find out if contact lenses will be right for you.

How many people suffer from sight loss in the UK?

According to the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB), almost two million people in the UK are living with sight loss, but over 50% of sight loss can be avoided1.

How many children have undiagnosed sight problems and what is the impact of this?

At least 10% and possibly as many as a third of children in England may be at risk of avoidable and lifelong vision problems going undetected2. 84% of parents agree that improved vision would have a positive impact on their child's performance at school3.

I can see fine, why do I need a sight test?

It is easy to think that your eyesight is fine, because you have nothing to compare it against. Many eye conditions do not have symptoms in their early stages. If detected early enough, many can be treated and sight loss can be avoided.

Which diseases can be detected through a sight test?

Regular sight tests can diagnose more serious problems. Glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, cataracts and in some cases brain tumours and high blood pressure can be detected through a sight test.

How often should I have a sight test?

Regular sight tests are still important even if you don't wear spectacles or lenses. They are a vital health check and should be part of everyone's health routine. Adults should see an optometrist every two years. Some people may need to go more frequently. For more information visit www.visionmatters.org.uk/smartweb/sight-tests/sight-tests.

How much does a sight test cost?

An average sight test costs in the region of £25 but shop around, as the cost varies greatly. Many people qualify for a free NHS sight tests, including children under 16 and those over 60.

Am I entitled to a sight test if I work with computers / screens?

The advice from the Health and Safety Executive is that "if you are an employee who uses a visual display unit (VDU) as a significant part of your normal work, your employer has to provide a sight test if you request one... Employers are only required to pay for spectacles if the test shows that special ones are needed for your VDU work and normal ones cannot be used."4

What should I look out for during National Eye Health Week?

National Eye Health Week is taking place 13 – 19 June 2011. A wide variety of events and activities will be running during the Week. Other things to look out for include a Twitter campaign, news and features in national and regional media and a radio day. Information materials will be disseminated and available in a wide range of outlets from business workplaces through to opticians and GP surgeries. Visit our website www.visionmatters.org.uk to find out what's happening in your area.

The Week's organisers will also have a presence at the UK Vision Conference and the Department of Health. Additionally, an awareness event for parliamentarians will take place encouraging both MPs and members of the public to contact their local NHS organisation and lobby for a greater focus on this critical health issue.

Which celebrities are supporting the campaign?

Our celebrity advocates include Ian Rose, the paralympic judo medalist, as well as Adrian Mole author Sue Townsend, actress Phyllida Law and Sir John Major.

Which organisations are involved in National Eye Health Week?

The Week's list of supporters is growing all the time and currently includes: Tesco; leading health insurance provider, Simplyhealth; Fight for Sight, a leading research charity; pharmaceutical companies Pfizer and Allergan; contact lens manufacturer, CooperVision; Specsavers; The College of Optometrists; Central (LOC) fund and vision charities such as the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) and Guide Dogs for the Blind. To see a full list of sponsors and Friends of the Week, visit www.visionmatters.org.uk.

Vision Matters Website

Coopervision is proud to be a champion of National Eye Health Week helping people in their golden years understand the importance of sight tests and educating them on the options they have for maintaining their eye health. Our contact lenses can help people see the world; a sight test is the first step in making that happen.

  1. Statistics from the Royal National Institute of Blind People
  2. Statistics from Which? May 2011
  3. Johnson & Johnson Vision Care Survey 2009
  4. http://www.hse.gov.uk/msd/faq.htm#dse

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“Sight tests are valuable health checks as well as vision checks and as you get older they are more and more likely to result in a need for corrective treatment. Yet many people don't like the idea of wearing glasses and simply don't realise that contact lenses are an option for them. There is no upper age limit for wearing contact lenses and CooperVision produce a range of lenses to help with many vision problems. Don't let a fear of contact lenses put you off getting your sight tested – there are so many options for sight correction, you will be able to find one for you.”

Karl Aberdeen, Professional Relations Manager