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Eyeglasses and Contact Lenses

Lenses for correcting or improving vision:

Picture of a young girl trying on a pair of eyeglasses

There are two types of lenses prescribed for correcting or improving vision. These include:

How to read an eyeglass prescription:

The lens power of eyeglasses is measured in diopters. This measurement reflects the amount of power necessary to focus images directly onto the retina. When looking at an eyeglass prescription, you will see the following abbreviations:

Illustration of a pair of eyeglasses

In addition, the eyeglass prescription may also contain the following measurements:

Bifocal is additional power in the lens and has an additional measurement listed on the prescription as "add" to indicate the strength of the lens.

What are the different types of eyeglass lenses?

The type of lenses used in eyeglasses depends on the type of vision problem, and may include:

Picture of a young girl wearing trial eyeglasses to determine her prescription
Photograph used by permission of the National Eye Institute, National Institutes of Health

Eyeglasses for children:

If old enough, let your child play an active role in choosing his/her own glasses. The following are features to consider when buying eyeglasses for children:

Facts about contact lenses:

About 24 million Americans wear contact lenses, 80 percent of whom wear daily wear soft lenses. Currently, there are four types of contact lenses in use, including the following:

Reading a contact lens prescription:

The prescription for contact lenses includes more information than what is available on the prescription for eyeglasses. Special measurements are taken of the curvature of the eye. In addition, your child's physician will determine if the eyes are too dry for contact lenses, and if there are any corneal problems that may prevent a person from wearing contact lenses. Trial lenses are usually tested on the eyes for a period of time to ensure proper fit.

The contact lens prescription usually includes the following information:

Eye care specialists are required by federal law to give you a copy of your contact lens specifications.

Protect your child's eyes from the sun:

Although parents go through great lengths to protect their children's skin from the harmful rays of the sun, many forget that the eyes need to be protected, too. Nearly half of American parents do not regularly provide their children with sunglasses that protect their eyes from the sun's ultraviolet (UV) rays. Exposure to sun may set children up for potential vision problems later in life.

The sun can cause sunburned corneas, cancer of the eyelid, cataracts, and macular degeneration, among other problems. In addition, children are more susceptible because their lenses do not block as much UV as adult lenses. Children also tend to spend more time outdoors than their parents, often in places where there is a lot of sun reflection - beaches, pools, and amusement parks. Most UV eye damage is cumulative.

Protecting a child's eyes from the sun is simple:

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