Perfect vision all day, without lenses, lasers or glasses - We'll see, says Tanya de Grunwald.
My contact lenses are always giving me grief. Glued to my laptop for nine hours a day, my eyes are dry, pink and sore by bedtime. Too vain for glasses and too squeamish for laser surgery, I assumed I was stuck with them. Now there's an alternative. I-GO overnight corrective contact lenses. Insert before bed, remove in the morning and enjoy 20/20 vision all day. "Once the lenses are out, wearers can forget about them for the rest of the day," says Charles Babumba, of City Eyes Opticians. "If you work at a computer all day or want to play sport with greater confidence, they're ideal."
From £250 (plus £40 a month), they're cheaper than laser surgery, for which a top specialist can typically charge £4,000. The risks? No greater than using normal contact lenses, insist the makers. That said, there is a note of caution from Dr Sarah Janikoun, president of the British Contact Lens Association. "There is still much more to be learnt about corneal-reshaping contact lenses and their effects on the eye. As with all contact lenses, it's important to follow the instructions carefully and attend regular check-ups."
So, does it really work? Yes. A week after Babumba examined my eyes in his City clinic, the bespoke lenses were flown in from the US. During the day I could read street names, road signs and number plates, completely unaided. Impressive. But adjusting wasn't fun. First, if you've never worn hard lenses before, they're mighty uncomfortable (flying saucer in your eye anyone?). Plus, the insertion technique is a more painful "wedge and scoop" rather than a "slide and pinch". And if you think that sounds tricky sober, try it after the pub. Oh, and forget about reading in bed - once these bad boys are in, you'll want to go straight to sleep (mercifully the discomfort vanishes with closed eyes).
Second, expect dodgy vision in the early days. Prepare for "flare" (where halos surround lights and anyone wearing white) and "ghosting" (spooky imaginings in your peripheral vision). And third, they mess up your day. Because the effects build over time, if you're as blind as I am (minus four in both eyes) you'll need weak "top-up" lenses by mid-afternoon for the first week or so. Your bedroom will become a science lab - drops for this, solutions for that, mirrors, spare lenses.
Sadly, it was all too much - after seven days, I threw in the towel. The makers insist other patients love them, so what went wrong? "Your prescription is high and you have considerable corneal stigmatism" says the disappointed Babumba. "However, the lens design we came up with was doing the job - and your vision after the first night was better than I expected. The side effects are normal and would have settled down". My advice? If you have a particular reason for looking into overnight lenses, go ahead. Me, I'm done. We just didn't see eye to eye.
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