Ellerker opticians have a long history of fitting and supplying contact lenses of varies types for over 20 years now. Stephen Ellerker, a contact lens practitioner with an advanced diploma in contact lens practice is available 6 days a week for contact lens evaluations and annual contact lens check ups in Mardol, Shrewsbury. Patients come to us for contact lens evaluations either because we, or perhaps a friend, have recommended wearing contact lenses. Nowadays contact lenses are worn either full time or just for sport or social occasions. With the advent of a large number of different types of soft contact lenses we can advise you of the best type of lens that meet your needs A Contact Lens Evaluation When assessing our patients for contact lenses we recommend a contact lens evaluation which costs £30 if you have an up to date spectacle prescription. This appointment enables us to assess your suitability for contact lens wear by measuring the shape of your eyes, evaluating tear chemistry and trialling a suitable lens for fit, vision and comfort. We then spend as much time as is needed to teach our patients an easy technique for inserting and removing contact lenses. At this point a weeks’ supply of contact lenses are taken away for a trial period. A week later we re-evaluate and fine tune your contact lens parameters before recommending the best contact lens modality and issuing and supplying your contact lens prescription. Annual Contact lens check ups Contact lens wearers are expected to have their contact lenses checked annually. Ellerker opticians will regularly assess your eyes for any complications through contact lens wear. Because most contact lens complications are ‘silent’ conditions, we recommend that your eyes are checked regularly through our aftercare scheme. Where necessary we will update your prescription or even change the material or lens modality to keep your eyes healthy throughout your contact lens wear. Annual contact lens check ups cost £30 – Free to those on our recommended aftercare scheme. Red Eye appointment Occasionally a contact lens complication arises through either discomfort or redness of the eye which needs to be looked at, by your contact lens practitioner, preferably the same day. Ellerker opticians will always treat contact lens complications as a priority and make provision for our contact lens patients to be seen as soon as possible, preferably the same day. Any treatment that is needed can then be recommended with immediate effect. Red eye appointments cost £12 – Free to those on our recommended aftercare scheme. CONTACT LENS INFORMATION This booklet will advise you about various different aspects of contact lens wear. Summary Introduction This booklet will advise you on How to Insert and remove your contact lenses Care for your lenses Store your lenses Clean and disinfect your lenses Use Supplementary eye drops Wearing schedules Periodic review of your contact lenses Seeking professional advice where your eyes are Red and bloodshot Experiencing discomfort Persistent watering or other discharge Visual disturbance Thinking of changing contact lens solutions Thinking of changing brand of contact lens How and where to obtain professional advice During office hours Outside office hours Relevant Clinical Information Information about Eye care professionals Contact Lens Instruction Sheet Soft Lenses Congratulations on choosing Contact Lenses. They will provide you with safe, trouble free and comfortable wear coupled with excellent vision, provided you follow a few simple rules. Please ensure you read this information sheet and keep it for future reference. If there is anything you haven’t understood or on which you require more information please do not hesitate to ask us. INSTRUCTIONS Always wash and dry your hands on a lint free towel before handling your lenses. Make sure the lens is immersed in solution before removing. Do not use new lenses if packaging is not sealed. Contact Lenses must not be shared. LENS INSERTION For each eye, ensure the lens is not inside out. Place on your index finger to verify the shape. Using your other hand’s index & second finger hold up the upper lid, use the third finger of the original hand to hold down the lower lid. Place the lens gently but firmly directly on the eye. Repeat the procedure for the other eye. Picture needed here of lens being inserted Hints Hold the lids from inside the lash line. This will keep the lashes well out of the way and give more control. Don’t worry about getting the lens on the cornea (coloured part of the eye). If you put it on the sclera (white part of the eye) it will automatically centre itself LENS REMOVAL Don’t forget to hand wash. Look up and hold down the lower lid. Slide the lens down onto the white of the eye before gently pinching it and lifting it out with the pads of your forefinger and thumb. Repeat the process for the other eye. Picture needed here of lens being removed Re-CENTREING In the unlikely event that the lens becomes decentred simply close your eye and massage it through the lids. A lens seemingly trapped under your upper lid can do no damage. Call in and see us as soon as possible. CARE OF YOUR LENSES DISINFECTION/SOAKING Clean & disinfect your lenses in strict accordance with the instructions given by us and printed on the solution packaging. WHAT HAPPENS IF THE LENSES DRY OUT De-hydrated lenses are usually beyond recovery however sometimes it is possible by re-hydrating the lens in disinfecting solution for 2 hours then cleaning and disinfecting for 24 hours in accordance with the instructions on your solution bottle. PRECAUTIONS These lenses are designed for frequent replacement. We will have advised you on your personal wearing, cleaning and replacement regime. Under no circumstances should you vary these. If in any doubt seek advice from us. Always clean and disinfect your lenses as instructed, after lens removal. If your eyes become red or irritated, or you experience any pain or discomfort, remove your lenses; immediately and contact us as soon as possible. Avoid contaminating your lenses with make up, aerosol sprays or wearing them near noxious fumes. Replace damaged, contaminated or scratched lenses immediately. Avoid long nails, which harbour, bacteria and potentially can scratch your cornea. A scratched eye is vulnerable to infection. Keep your lenses out of the reach of children. Only use your lenses for water, sports wearing water tight goggles. WARNINGS Never sleep in your lenses unless you are wearing continuous wear lenses and you have been advised by us that it is safe to do so. Never wear your lenses beyond the recommended wearing schedule Never use household products (such as bleach) on your lenses. Never use saliva to wet or clean your lenses. Never rinse your lenses or lens case in tap water. Never share lenses. Remember, If In Doubt – Take Them Out, and contact us as soon as possible. Wearing Contact lenses: Hygiene and Safety Introduction This factsheet will consider the support people will need once they become regular contact lens wearers. It gives advice about how to look after your contact lenses and your eyes and discusses some of the problems regular contact lens wearers may face. Contact Lens Hygiene Optometrists stress the importance of people developing a routine for cleaning lenses which must be followed at all times. The person (and their carer) will need to learn how to clean lenses. There are different cleaning systems. Some people may need a prescribed lens cleaner (not bought over the counter at a chemist). They may also need a separate disinfectant. Your contact lens practitioner will also explain the need for people to develop a system so they know what to do if they get grit in their eyes in the street and their eyes stream with tears. Wearing Schedules Getting used to wearing lenses varies from one person to another depending on their tear chemistry Patients are advised that they should build up their wearing time with contact lenses. A popular wearing schedule for beginning contact lens wearers is 4 hours the first day followed by increasing by 2 hrs a day Wearing time can be as little as an hour each day. This can increase over a period of weeks or months. Over this time the cornea gets used to the contact lens and comfort improves. Wearing time must be increased in comfortable environments - without draughts, air-conditioning, dust or smoke. Developing a routine for contact lenses Many experienced wearers of contact lenses have developed a routine that they strictly adhere to for inserting and removing lenses. Keeping to a well-established routine reduces the possibility of damaging or losing the lenses. People with supporters or carer s may need to ensure that they have guidelines and training. Other aspects of contact lens wear Prescribing To prescribe effectively the dispenser will usually expect the person to provide a degree of verbal feedback regarding comfort of lenses and their effectiveness. Discomfort Soft contact lenses should always feel comfortable in your eyes. Hard contact lenses however cause discomfort and are uncomfortable to wear for the first few weeks. Additional eye drops may be recommended in the event of soft contact lenses feeling uncomfortable after a period of wear. Different drops are recommended for different symptoms, and your contact lens practitioner will advise you of the best type of eye drops to use. Losing them in and out of the eye Inserting and removing lenses from the eye requires a steady hand. They are easily dropped! Handling lenses requires good hand-eye co-ordination, and need to be placed on the correct part of the eye to get the most out of wearing them. Lenses can fall out and, being small, they may be hard to find. They need to be cleaned every time before they are re-inserted. Lenses may get stuck in the eye, disappear under the top eyelid and be hard to retrieve. If this happens, ask the person to look down and inwards. If this fails, contact your contact lens practitioner. Hygiene Eye infections can be caused by careless habits. Strict hand, fingernail and eyelid cleanliness while handling lenses is important, in order to avoid a risk of infection or inflammation of the cornea. Eye rubbing with a lens in place could cause damage to the cornea. This could result in infection if hand hygiene is poor. Lenses must be kept clean. Lens cleaning routines must be adhered to. There should be agreement about who is responsible for ensuring the service user has a constant supply of prescribed cleaning solution. Weather Gusts of wind, dust and tiny, barely visible, foreign bodies can become unbearably uncomfortable if they get underneath a contact lens. There is usually a gritty sensation or pain which may necessitate the removal and cleaning of lenses, sometimes in strange places! Air-conditioning Air-conditioning may make contact lenses uncomfortable if the air is dry, especially during air travel. Allergies Severe hay fever and allergies may make it impossible to wear lenses at certain times of the year. You may need to be prescribed anti-allergy eye drops by your optometrist. Dry eyes Dry eyes as a result of women's menstrual cycle, the menopause and hormone replacement therapy (HRT) may reduce the time for which lenses can be worn. Wearing glasses instead of lenses There are occasions when it is safer or more appropriate for people to wear glasses instead of contact lenses. For some it can be when the pollen count is particularly high. For others working in a hairdressers where they are exposed to mild fumes from colouring agents. Swimming underwater and so on. 9 Rules to Keep Your Contacts and Eyes Healthy An individual only gets to live life with one pair of eyes. Contact lenses have been a revolutionary aid to those with impaired vision – allowing you to see life clearly and vividly. However, through the improper wearing and care of contact lenses, damage can be done, which is sometimes irreversible. By following these nine rules, you can keep your contacts well maintained and your eyes healthy against the threat of disease and injury. Rule 1. Make sure you get the right contact lenses for your eyes. Be especially careful not to order lenses without getting an eye check-up and prescription first. Getting the correct lenses is the first step to protecting your eyes. Rule 2. Wash your hands before handling your lenses, and clean them with the proper solution each time you wear them, and each time you take them out of your eyes. Rule 3. Replace your contact lens case often. The exposure to solution and air can cause build-up on the case, sometimes invisible to the naked eye. Clean it often and replace the case every few months for best results. Rule 4. Use proper care when it comes to your contact lens solution. Never use a solution that has passed its expiration date, and never use a solution not recommended for your lenses. It is also advisable to avoid putting your lenses back into a pool of the same solution more than once. Squeeze fresh solution from the bottle each time you take your contacts out. Rule 5. Be wary about letting your soft contacts dry out. This can cause them to become brittle and un-wearable. If your contacts are not in your eyes, they should be in solution. Rule 6. Never wear contact lenses past the point advised in the instructions. Disposable contacts have various schedules for wear, and these should be followed exactly, even if you feel the contacts are fine and could continue to be worn for a longer period. Rule 7. Avoid exposure to smoke and other irritants that can cause build up on your lenses and contribute to dry eyes. Rule 8. Don’t continue to wear contacts if you feel irritation or pain. Take them out and clean them before trying again. If the irritation persists, contact your eye physician for further instruction. Rule 9. As a general rule, it is unhealthy to sleep with your contact lenses in. There are exceptions to this rule, such as some contacts made by Bausch & Lomb or Johnson & Johnson that are specifically designed for night wear. Dried Out Soft Contact Lenses Soft contact lenses are partially or even mostly made of water. When not in use, it is important to keep them hydrated by storing them in contact lens solution. Sometimes a lens can get stuck on the underside of the lens case lid or otherwise accidentally dry out. It’s usually possible to revive and use the lens again. As lenses break very easily when they are dry, it's important not to touch or try to remove a dry lens that is stuck to a surface. Soften the lens with a multiuse solution and wait a few minutes before attempting to remove it. Place the lens back in its case, cover it with solution, and wait at least an hour before using it again. Read here for tips on what you should do if you forget to take out the lenses before going to sleep. Sleeping in Contact Lenses Most contact lens wearers have fallen asleep while wearing their contact lenses at one time or another, but that doesn't mean it’s a safe practice. If you're planning to stay overnight somewhere, of course it's smart to take a contact lens case and solution with you. But what do you do when it's time to go to sleep and you find yourself in a place without your cleaning liquid or lens case? Unless you're using extended wear lenses that are designed specifically for this purpose, you shouldn't leave the lenses in for the night. It's better to take the lenses out and put them in a glass of water—that is, if you can find your way home in the morning without them, as you definitely need to disinfect them before wearing them again. If you go to sleep without removing your soft contact lenses, your eyes might be very dry in the morning. The contact lenses may be stuck and, in the worst case scenario, you will not be able to see anything clearly. The most important thing is to remain calm. It's a frightening experience to find oneself blinded all of a sudden, but the condition should be only temporary. Whatever you do, do not try to remove the lenses forcefully, as this might tear the cornea and lead to some serious problems! Instead, drop some suitable contact lens liquid or even pure water into the eyes and wait a couple of minutes for it to soften the lenses, which should then come out easily. After this experience, it's best to wear eyeglasses for a while to give the eyes a rest, and to see an eye care professional to make sure no damage has been done. Strategies to Prevent Dry Eyes According to the British Journal of Ophthalmology, nearly three million people wear contact lenses in the UK, with a significant percentage suffering from complications associated with dry eyes. This may come as little surprise to anyone who wears contact lenses, which are named as one of the chief culprits causing dry eye. Contact lenses cover the iris, thus occasionally preventing the proper amount of tears from reaching that area of the eye, and thus, subsequently causing dry eyes. This is characterized by redness, an excess of blinking, and sometimes foggy contacts and blurred vision. What causes dry eye? Disposable soft contact lenses are particularly prone to create dry eyes when worn past the recommended time line. Most modern contact lenses are made up of water in great percentage. When the lenses have been worn for an extended period of time, they begin to lose some of the water within the plastic lens. When this happens, the lens will automatically try to absorb water from the tears naturally produced by an individual’s eye. Certain activities can worsen this effect, including exposure to heat, cigarette smoke, and wind. Preventing dry eye In order to prevent dry eyes, there are several steps you can take to ensure your contact lenses are as comfortable as possible. Consider contact lens brands designed specifically with dry eye in mind. Manufacturers have created contact lenses to address the issues of dry eyes. Do not wear your contact lenses past the recommended expiration point. Clean your contacts regularly. Avoid exposure to irritants known to cause dry eyes. Consider purchasing contact lens rewetting drops. These formulations are specifically developed for contact lenses; these drops can be applied as a temporary solution whenever you feel your eyes need a little extra lubrication. If you have sensitive eyes, purchase eye drops that are preservative-free. Soak your contacts in solution regularly. If you develop dry eye symptoms only after wearing your contacts for a few hours, you can soak your contacts in your solution for 5 – 10 minutes. This will refresh your contacts and make them more comfortable to wear for the rest of the day. Although dry eye can be common with contact lenses, you can easily take measures to make contacts completely comfortable to wear. Contact Lenses and Children: What Age Is Too Young? There are many factors that play a role in deciding if a candidate is right for contact lenses. These factors multiply greatly when speaking of a patient who is under the age of fifteen. There are questions that need to be answered to determine if a child is old enough and mature enough to wear contact lenses. However, wearing contact lenses is not only a case of maturity and age. Factors regarding the child’s lifestyle and the state of their current vision problems must also be evaluated. While this decision should (and will) ultimately be made by a licensed optometrist, here are some things you, as a parent, can take into consideration when determining whether or not your child is old enough for contact lenses. Age is not always the issue Even at a very young age, the eye is versatile and can handle the strain of contact lenses. There are even cases of infants fitted with contacts due to existing eye problems that can be treated no other way. There have also been numerous studies done on children as young as eight years old that demonstrated the vast majority of children had little or no problems with the proper care, input, and removal of their lenses. Observation and considerations Therefore, in determining if a child is right for contacts (exclusive of medical vision issues), the question is not how old the child is, but rather how mature. As a parent, you will be best equipped to provide an answer to that question through the observation of your child. Does the child care for his belongings in a mature manner? Does he or she demonstrate the level of maturity necessary to handle contact lenses? It should be fairly easy to determine whether or not this is the case. Finally, talk to your child to see how he or she feels about the added responsibility of caring for and wearing contacts. Wearing contacts can be a blessing for children, especially if they are not well-adjusted to the teasing that can occur throughout elementary and intermediate schooling. However, for the long-term health of your child’s vision health, it is critical that personal maturity and responsibility is exhibited. 30 Day Contacts vs. LASIK: Which Is Best For You? The world of vision care has experienced revolutionary breakthroughs, with two specifically obtaining significant attention. One of these breakthroughs is the development and perfection of LASIK surgery. The other is the creation of contact lenses designed to be worn continuously for up to a month. Both of these breakthroughs have relieved much of the burden for those suffering from vision problems. With either of these solutions, the hassle and irritation of daily contact lens care and wear are largely eliminated (fully, in the case of LASIK). However, not everyone is a candidate for either one or the other. In order to determine which of these vision solutions would be right for you, let’s take a look at what each of these options offers. The Permanency of LASIK Using a laser to correct the distortions of the cornea, LASIK surgery has grown wildly in popularity in recent years. Eye surgeons have begun offering payment plans that make the surgery affordable for most of the general public. The surgery eliminates the need for contact lenses or glasses for most of the patients (although there are cases where some form of optical assistance will still be necessary after the surgery). The risks and dangers associated with LASIK are very low, particularly if you use a recommended surgeon with credentials in the field. However, not everyone is a candidate for LASIK. If you have very sensitive eyes, are under the age of eighteen, or have a doctor’s diagnose of refractive instability (where your eyesight is still growing poorer at a generally rapid pace), you will not be a candidate. Extended Wear Contact Lenses On the other hand, there are 30 day contact lenses, developed by Contact lens manufacturers using silicone material, which permits far more oxygen to pass through the lens and reach the cornea. This makes them more durable and easier to wear for an extended period of time. This innovative material eliminates the need for daily removal and cleaning, which can be much of the hassle for existing contact lens wearers. Making the Choice In the end, the choice is yours. If money is an issue, you may wish to forgo LASIK surgery for the time being. 30 day contact lenses can be a viable alternative that eliminates much of the day to day issues of contact-wearing away from the situation. They are also an excellent alternative, for those who are not currently LASIK candidates, but may be in the future. A Makeup Guide For Contact Lens Wearers Put in your lenses before applying makeup. This will prevent oily makeup residue from getting on the lenses, as well as allow you to see better while applying the makeup. Remove lenses before using makeup remover and washing your face. If you use hair spray, however, try to spray it before putting in the contact lenses. Use only water-soluble products to remove eye makeup. Avoid dusty products such as loose powder. If you absolutely need it, at least close your eyes while applying it. Don't use glitter makeup near the eyes. Small metal particles might flake off and get into your eyes. Don't apply eyeliner on the ridge between your eyelashes and the eye; keep it further away from the eye. Try to avoid eyeliners that contain loose particles. Avoid mascaras that add volume, thickness, and length to eyelashes. They contain fibres that can flake off and get into the eyes, causing pain. Use a water-resistant mascara rather than a fully waterproof one. Many brands have mascaras designed especially for contact lens wearers. Replace mascara frequently. Mascara that has been used for a long time may become a nest of bacteria. To avoid spreading bacteria, don't share eye makeup with others. Don't use oily or creamy products right next to the eyes. Sauna, Swimming - Can I Use Contact Lenses? Although contact lenses provide many different unique and beneficial features, there are some types of seasonal environments that are not favourable for contact lens wearers. The summer time months create the urge for swimming and many different outdoor activities. For those of you who wear contact lenses on a regular basis, swimming can only be done safely if you are wearing air tight goggles. Even if you are not planning on diving under the water, there is always the potential to have water splashed into your eyes and this can force your contact lens to float around in your eyes or even absorb the chemicals of the pool. In general it is best to go swimming without your lenses or with disposable contacts you can throw out when you are done. In the Sauna A very common question in relation to environments and contact lenses is, ―can I wear contact lenses in the sauna‖? You should preferably take off your contact lenses before going to sauna, but many people frequently use contacts there all the time. Your lenses will always remain closer to body temperature than glasses. Therefore, they will not steam or fog up as much as a result of the humidity or extreme temperature fluctuations. However, they are unlikely to remain totally unaffected. In the sauna your eyes usually dry more than usual. If you decide to go to sauna, remember to blink a lot. Your contact lenses might require some rest in their liquid before returning back to normal. Contact lenses can be temperamental in certain situations like swimming, but for the most part, they are convenient for any activities you want to take part in. As a rule, for saunas, hot tubs or swimming, relying on disposable contact lenses for these events is always the safer route so you can enjoy your activities instead of worrying about your contact lenses. How to Get Contact Lenses Out of the Eye when Stuck Getting contact lenses stuck in your eye can often be a painful experience. Sometimes contacts can slip too high or too low on your eyeball, making them difficult to remove. Your contact getting lodged anywhere in your eye can result in painful and extended headaches. Removing contact lenses from your eye when they get stuck may not be the easiest thing to do, but by staying calm and being patient, you will eventually get it done. Instructions You'll Need Eye drops Step 1 Wash your hands. The first thing you should do when handling contact lenses and touching your eye is to thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water to avoid contamination or infection. Step 2 Use eye drops on the eye with the stuck contact lens. If the lens is stuck due to the moisture in your eye having dried out over time (which can occur after sleeping with a contact lens still in your eye), eye-drops can be useful in restoring moisture and enabling you to remove the contact. Step 3 Blink continuously. Contact lenses will move around in your eyes a little bit every time you blink. If one gets stuck, blink rapidly and continuously in an attempt to get the lens to move back to its original position, at which point it can be taken out as normal. Step 4 Hold your eyelids open farther than they normally go with your fingers. If the problem is that the lens has simply drifted too high or low on your eye to be removed, pulling apart and widening your eyelids can give you the space you need to access the lens with your other hand. Tips & Warnings It is a common misconception that if a contact moves too far from the front of your eye in any direction it can end up getting stuck behind your eyeball. In reality, this is not physically possible. Remove your contact lenses before you go to sleep. The eyes tend to dry out during sleep, which, coupled with the presence of contact lenses, can result in serious difficulty when trying to remove the contacts. Never use regular tap water to store contact lenses. Always use contact lens solution to avoid the lenses getting dirty and rubbing debris against your eye. Seeking Professional Advice If you are suffering from red eyes or discomfort you should arrange to see your contact lens practitioner as soon as possible. Stephen Ellerker opticians will arrange for you to be seen same day where possible. At Ellerker opticians your contact lens practitioner is available 6 days a week. During office hours please ring 0174334455 and ask to be seen same day. Out of office hours and for emergencies only please ring 07949169806. All during and out of office hour consultations are covered by our £5 per month direct debit aftercare fee. We strongly recommended that you have aftercare cover. Eye care Professionals What is a Contact Lens Practitioner and why it’s important to find the right contact lens practitioner? /w EPDw ULLTE3N When fitting you with contact lenses, your contact lens practitioner has dozens of products to choose from and, for a given product, there may be hundreds of possible specifications. It is reassuring if you are confident your practitioner will select the best contact lenses for your needs. Your choice of practitioner can make the difference between being a happy, successful contact lens wearer or not. Wearing contact lenses involves regular check-ups, often over many years, and it is therefore helpful if you can find a practitioner in whose company you are comfortable, as well as one who inspires confidence. What are the different types of contact lens practitioner? In the UK, there are three categories of professional qualified to fit contact lenses although, within each category, not all practitioners choose to fit contact lenses. Optometrists (ophthalmic opticians) – Optometrists are qualified to examine the eyes, test sight and prescribe and fit spectacles and contact lenses. Some optometrists who fit contact lenses undertake additional training to attain a diploma in contact lens practice (DipCLP, DCLP). Dispensing optician contact lens fitters – Dispensing opticians dispense, fit and supply spectacles. Some dispensing opticians undertake additional training to become qualified to fit and supply contact lenses. Those dispensing opticians with an additional qualification in contact lens practice will usually use one of the following sets of letters: CL(ADO), CL(ABDO), FADO(Hons)CL, FBDO(Hons)CL. Ophthalmologist contact lens fitters – Ophthalmologists are medical practitioners specialising in eye disease. Some ophthalmologists fit contact lenses but generally specialise in therapeutic contact lenses. What makes a good contact lens practitioner? A good contact lens practitioner will: Carefully question you about your eyes, your health and your specific visual needs Explain what contact lens options are available to you and the relative merits of those options Involve you in any decision-making Have available a wide range of contact lens products Take care to explain to you how to look after your lenses and what steps to take to avoid problems Make any necessary changes or modifications to your lenses to ensure that you get the best possible comfort and vision Keep up to date with new products and techniques Have knowledgeable, efficient support staff who will answer minor queries, know when to arrange check-ups and help organise replacement lenses when you need them How do I find a good contact lens practitioner? As with other professional services, recommendation is one of the best ways to find the right practitioner. Ask friends and colleagues in your area about their experiences. If you have a less common eye problem (such as keratoconus, high astigmatism or previous eye surgery) and may require special contact lens care, it is particularly important to find a contact lens practitioner who has been trained to deal with your problem. Before making an appointment, check that the practitioner has adequate experience in dealing with your eye condition. The ‘Find a BCLA contact lens practitioner’ service can also help you to find a practitioner in your area. BCLA membership does not guarantee that they will be the ideal practitioner for your needs. However, being a member of the BCLA usually indicates a commitment to ongoing training and a desire to keep abreast of new developments. What questions should I ask my contact lens practitioner? Useful questions to ask might be: Are you restricted in which contact lenses you can fit? How many days a week are you here? What will happen if I am not comfortable with my lenses? Are there any indications that my eyes will be more difficult to fit with contact lenses than the average person? How much experience have you had in dealing with my particular problem? Are you a member of the BCLA? Regulations for the supply of contact lenses Changes to the Opticians Act which took effect from June 30 2005 included new regulations on the supply of contact lenses in the UK. As was previously the case, contact lenses can only be fitted by a registered optometrist, suitably qualified dispensing optician or medical practitioner (special provision exists for students). When prescribing powered (corrective) lenses, the practitioner must issue the patient with a contact lens specification once a fitting is completed. There is no legal requirement to give a patient a written specification after fitting with zero-powered lenses however the College of Optometrists advise their members that it is in the patient’s best interest to do so. Powered contact lenses may then be sold by or under the general direction of a registered optometrist, suitably qualified dispensing optician or medical practitioner. Zero-powered contact lenses can only be sold by or under the supervision of a registered practitioner. Contact lenses for use by children under the age of 16 or patients registered blind or partially sighted must also be sold by a registered practitioner or under his or her supervision. A directed sale does not require the physical presence of a registered person but he or she is legally responsible for the sale or supply. Supervision requires the registered person to be present on the premises, aware of the procedure and in a position to intervene if necessary. For powered lenses, the seller must have an in-date specification before supplying lenses or, if this is not available in its original form, verify the specification with the prescriber. Verification should be in writing and requires the patient’s consent. The seller must be reasonably satisfied that goods ordered are for the use of the person named in the specification and must make arrangements for aftercare to take place. The legislation states that the seller must make arrangements for the individual to receive aftercare ‘in so far as and for so long as may be reasonable in his or her particular case’. All businesses in the UK supplying contact lenses must comply with these regulations. Sales occurring outside the UK cannot be regulated under this legislation and this includes internet sales that take place outside the UK. The following professional bodies and other organisations can provide further information on these regulations: General Optical Council (www.optical.org), College of Optometrists (www.college-optometrists.org), Association of British Dispensing Opticians (www.abdo.org.uk), Association of Optometrists (www.aop.org.uk), Association of Contact Lens Manufacturers (www.aclm.org.uk). What is an Optometrist? Previously known as ophthalmic opticians, optometrists are trained professionals who examine eyes, test sight, give advice on visual problems, and prescribe and dispense spectacles or contact lenses. They also recommend other treatments or visual aids where appropriate. Optometrists are trained to recognise eye diseases, referring such cases as necessary, and can also use or supply various eye drugs. Optometrists study at university for at least three, sometimes four years and participate in a full year of training and supervision, called the pre-registration year, before qualifying. Once qualified, they have the opportunity to develop their interests in specialist aspects of practice such as contact lenses, eye treatment, low vision, children’s vision and sports vision. All optometrists practising in the UK must be registered with the General Optical Council, the profession’s regulatory body, and are listed in the Opticians Register. When choosing an optometrist, look out for the letters FCOptom or MCOptom after his or her name. It means that optometrist is a fellow or member of the College and adheres to high standards of clinical practice. Other eye health professionals involved with contact lenses are: Dispensing opticians Dispensing opticians advise on, fit and supply spectacle frames and lenses after taking account of each patient's lifestyle and vocational needs. Dispensing opticians are also able to fit contact lenses after undergoing further specialist training. They are registered with and regulated by the General Optical Council and their representative body is the Association of British Dispensing Opticians. Ophthalmologists Ophthalmologists specialise in eye disease, treatment and surgery. Medically qualified, they mainly work in eye hospitals and hospital eye departments. Ophthalmologists are registered and regulated by the General Medical Council and their representative body is the Royal College of Ophthalmologists.