Contact lenses are small, thin plastic disks that are designed to rest on the cornea. It is mostly used to correct blurry vision caused by nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism and also to manage diseases of cornea, conjunctiva or lids. Singapore has an extremely high incidence of myopia, and many Working Adults use Contact Lenses to help correct it.

Do you have any concerns on the side effects of wearing contact lens? What are the potential risks? Need a guide on how to take care of your eyes and your lenses?

​Dr Lim Li​, Senior Consultant at the Department of Refractive Surgery at Singapore National Eye Centre, gives detailed answers to your questions.

Question by rachel

Dear Dr Ho,

I have been using contact lenses for the past 20 years. I was experiencing some twitching and discomfort in the eyes, so I switched to daily disposables instead for the past two years. This was because the optician told me that I had quite a lot of 'protein build up' in my eye despite my fortnightly and even weekly protein removal tablets.

Recently, I am finding that I feel some 'grit' in my eyes half way through the day, even with the daily disposables.

Q: Is there a 'shelf-life' for a person to wear contact lenses?

Otherwise, why could I be feeling this way, when I am using such contact lenses, which I even try to give my eyes a break on the weekends?

Should I use eye washes? If yes, what kind should I look for? Is there any other advise for people like me, so my eyes can stay healthy?

Thank you for your time.

Answered by Dr Lim Li Senior Consultant Refractive Surgery Service Singapore National Eye Centre

It is important to see your contact lens practitioner to check your eyes if you experience discomfort related to contact lens wear. Your practitioner will advise you on your eye problems.

If you have worn contact lenses for several years, you could have developed an allergic condition known as giant papillary conjunctivitis which is a chronic allergic eye condition related to contact lens wear.

Daily disposable lenses are good for this condition as there is no protein build up on the lenses. However, the condition may not resolve completely even with daily disposable lens wear and you may continue to have discomfort during lens wear. You should then stop wearing your lenses for a period of time, eg 6 weeks to allow the eye to recover.

It is not necessary to use eye washes as the eyes have a tear mechanism. It is important to have regular eye checks with your contact lens practitioner even if you do not experience any problems with your contact lens wear.

Question by john

I've been using contact lenses for a long while now. Recently, I found it a bit blurry in the distance, so when I saw the optician, he asked me to switch the degrees. Once I changed it, I found it hard to read the newspapers.

So, the optician changed it to something intermediate.

Q: if I am now getting near reading issues, is it okay for the contact lens degree to be lower than accurate for clear distance vision? Will this affect the health of my eye ( i.e. cause strain and hence worsen my degrees?) Is it better to slightly over correct or under correct the eye?

The optician also told me that my degree was quite stable, but what increased was my astigmatism. What would casue this when I am already close to 50 years old?

Answered by Dr Lim Li Senior Consultant Refractive Surgery Service Singapore National Eye Centre

It is fine to undercorrect your degree if you have reading issues. This will not affect the health of the eye. However, you may need a separate pair of contact lenses or glasses for distance if you are unable to see well for distance.

It is important to have your eyes checked to see what is the problem. There might be lenticular changes in the eye that could increase the astigmatism.

Question by mengtewo

Hi Dr Lim Li,

I'm a male 42+ yr adult who have been wearing spectacles and occasional use of contact lense for last 20 yr. I did not use contact lense often because it dropped a few times to due to dryness of my eyes. As such, I'm wearing spectacles with each side about 600 degrees and some night blindness of <200, I think.

About a year ago, I started to have difficult to read fine prints on the newspaper and often now has to lift out my spectacles to read carefully.

Recently, a male colleague of similiar age (40 yr) did a lasik and he told me the splendor of not wearing any spectacles or contact lense, when it came to swimming and soccor, it was the best he had as an male adult without these woes. However, he did not correct his long sightness to read since he did not have this problem currently.

I'm keen to experiment to correct my eyes using lasik and is there a technology that can 'cure' both long and short signtness all in 1 go? If so, how and what is the procedure?

The current issue is that I'm based overseas in Dubai as an expat but will be visiting Singapore to celebrate Chinese New Year in early Feb 2011 and will be staying for about 2 weeks? Will this be sufficient time to do an eye examination, lasik procedure and then heal my eyes if needed?

Thank you for answering my questions in advance.


Answered by Dr Lim Li Senior Consultant Refractive Surgery Service Singapore National Eye Centre

Two weeks is sufficient for the eye examination followed by lasik and 1 week follow-up visit. Pls obtain an appointment(via SNEC website or phone) if you wish. LASIK is a well established procedure for the correction of myopia. For presbyopia, most people opt for monovision correction, ie, an undercorrection of the non-dominant eye. The other types of presbyopia correction are relatively new.

Question by ngmj

I have been using contact lenses for 7 years now. Recently, redness is often observed in both my eyes as I wear them to work. This was not the case in the past when I wear them for long hours. (Previously, I was using permanent lens and now monthly lens).

Q. May I know if there is a maximum number of hours one can wear contact lenses in a day?

I consulted a GP and she suggested I switch to daily lens. I have not done so and am unsure if daily lens eliminate the redness in my eyes. Thank you.

Answered by Dr Lim Li Senior Consultant Refractive Surgery Service Singapore National Eye Centre

You should see your contact lens practitioner for an eye check to see what is the problem. The common conditions related to lens wear are dry eyes and allergic conjunctivitis, both of which can cause eye redness.

Daily disposable lenses are more suitable for wearers with allergic conjunctivitis.

Question by janey

I have been using contact lenses for many years now. Over the last few years, I have switched to daily disposables, as I was told they are cleaner / more hygenic.

Recently, however, I seem to be getting /looking like red tired eyes a lot of the time. Sometimes, even when I have just woken up.

Q: how long can I wear daily disposables at each time/day to avoid having such problems? I am a working adult so have to wear it from morning till evening - approx 12 - 14 hours. Is this okay?

What else should I do to keep my eyes healthy and prevent any other problem?


Answered by Dr Lim Li Senior Consultant Refractive Surgery Service Singapore National Eye Centre

If you have been wearing contact lenses for many years, the common problems that could occur that can cause eye redness are dry eyes and allergic conjunctivitis. It would be preferable to go for an eye check and your doctor will be able to advise you further.

Question by onlychay

I have had retina tear in my left eye in my early 20s and I had to go for freezing. Subsequently, I had laser done on both eyes to "repair" the retina due to macular degeneration. These were all done about 10 years ago.

My degree on each eye is about 700 and Astig about 250. I started wearing glasses since Pri Sch and I have to face the computer at work daily.

My question is:

  1. Am I still eligible for LASIK? If yes, What are my options?
  2. Due to my history, if I do LASIK, will this affect my retina and vision as I get older?
  3. Am I better off with contact lenses? I don't wear them for fear that I may cause another tear when wearing them.

My reason for contemplating LASIK/contact lenses is because of the inconveniences (e.g. for powered lenses whenever I swim/dive).

Thank you in advance.

Answered by Dr Lim Li Senior Consultant Refractive Surgery Service Singapore National Eye Centre

  1. Retinal laser treatment is not a contraindication of LASIK. However, you need to have a full eye examination by your eye doctor to see if you are suitable for LASIK.
  2. There is no clinical evidence that LASIK surgery can adversely affect the retina.
  3. Contact lens wear has not been known to cause retinal tears.

Ref: V10