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What are contact lenses?

Contacts are thin, clear disks of plastic that float on the tear film that coats the cornea, the curved front surface of the eye. The health of the corneal surface and tear film are very important to your comfort and the clarity of your vision when you are wearing contacts.
Contact lenses are used to correct the same conditions that eyeglasses correct:
  • Myopia (nearsightedness)
  • Hyperopia (farsightedness)
  • Astigmatism
  • Presbyopia

Contact lenses correct the vision of people who cannot or don't want to wear glasses. A contact lens is a thin, transparent plastic disc that sits on the cornea. They, just like eyeglasses, are shaped based on the vision problem to help the eye focus light directly onto the retina.

Contact lenses remain in place by sticking to the layer of tear fluid that floats on the surface of the eye. Eyelid pressure also keeps them in place. With each blink, the cornea is lubricated, and any impurities that may have become stuck to the lens are washed away.

Contacts correct refractive errors, such as nearsightedness and farsightedness, that result in blurry vision when the eye doesn't focus light directly on the retina as it should.

You might think contact lenses are a modern invention, but the idea has actually been around for hundreds of years, beginning with artist and inventor Leonardo da Vinci in 1508. A wearable contact lens came along in the late 19th century, and improvements were made throughout the 20th century.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.