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Feature Article

Contact lenses: an update on extended wear

Brien A Holden, Deborah F Sweeney

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Abstract

New extended wear contact lenses have the potential to change the lives of many of those people around the world who need vision correction. The lenses offer increased comfort and convenience at the same time as maintaining ocular health. A worldwide growth in contact lens use is expected as a direct result of these new lenses.

Key Points

  • The most important features in a patient’s choice of a contact lens are comfort and quality of vision. For most patients, extended wear is also an essential feature.
  • ‘Hard’ lenses can be worn successfully for extended periods, but most patients find them too uncomfortable. Disposable ‘soft’ lenses offer immediate comfort, but their low oxygen transmission can compromise ocular health during extended wear.
  • New soft lenses have been developed that have high oxygen transmission, giving them potential to be worn continuously for up to 30 days and to overcome corneal hypoxia.
  • Patient vigilance and compliance and expert fitting of lenses remain crucial to ocular health, especially in extended lens wear.

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