As the technologies in chemistry and plastics explode, contact lenses are becoming more comfortable, safer and more efficacious than ever before. Of course, it’s just our luck that our patients have simultaneously devolved. In the older, more primitive lenses they were thrilled to see 20/40 and had no problem removing them after six hours to alleviate dryness and pain. Now, in the amazing new lens designs, they are apoplectic because the lenses don’t make them 25 years old again and they missed one letter on the 20/15 line in their left eye.
Obviously, all of this is your fault, and they aren’t afraid to tell you so.
Never Good Enough
Thus, we still see contact lens dropouts every day. I get it… it’s really frustrating to have to put contact lenses in every day, even if they do let you do cool things like see. It’s also way too much work to remove and discard them every day. That takes time away from what’s important like Googling, “How tall is LeBron James?”
Plus, better technologies have increased the (perceived) cost to our patients. When I started wearing contact lenses in high school, my mom paid $300 for two lenses, and I was grounded for a month after I accidentally dropped them down the sink drain the first night. Now, they are ridiculously expensive, something like $2.00 for two lenses. To absorb such an absurd cost increase, I think the kids should pay for their own contact lenses by skipping one can of soda per day (I know, I know, that’s really hard for the poor little souls, and no one should have to sacrifice like that).
For our older patients trying to read the game score on the phone hidden in their lap while pretending to care about their boss’s quarterly performance presentation, bifocal contact lenses have created a new era of psychological pathologies. But they seem to work really well for patients who are motivated and understand they still beat wearing glasses at work. If only we could get them to stop driving to Louisiana at midnight in a hurricane while wearing them.
As I am now 66 years old, I can truly relate to the challenges of trying to see distance and near without glasses. I have been known to change my multifocal contact lenses two or three times in one day at the office in search of the Holy Grail of lens wear. Of course, hiding my age spots and dermatochalasis behind a cool pair of glasses may actually make a lot more sense for me.
A Taste of the Future
Meanwhile, contact lens manufacturers diligently march on. Lenses continue to improve with higher oxygen permeability, better optics and even UV protection. We even have lenses that darken in the sun, making us all look like cats after too much catnip. What’s next, they taste like bubble gum and you just eat them when you’re done to be environmentally friendly?
While you’re at it, why not design a lens that knows the answers to a kid’s SATs so we can keep their movie star parents out of jail? I don’t want to pay more taxes so they can have caviar in Riker’s.
Somewhere, deep in the bowels of a laboratory, some mad scientist is working on the perfect contact lens. You know… the one that will lead to world peace. I can’t wait to see what it tastes like.