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After staying with just glasses for a year or so, I recently decided to buy contact lenses again. If you've ever ventured out into the rain while wearing glasses, you'll know it can be quite frustrating without mini windscreen wipers attached, then you get inside a building and the glasses steam up, so it's nice to have a choice available to help avoid all that messing about, especially during the English winter.
I searched online for suppliers as I knew the measurements/power for each eye and I didn't want to get involved with the hassle of Specsavers as I had done with contact lenses previously. I was looking for the cheapest monthly lenses. I've always found monthlies to be the most cost effective type of contact lens for me personally especially as I never use them every single day so I can push that duration a bit further. I eventually settled on Bausch & Lomb's Soflens 59 from a third-party supplier on Amazon. Currently these are for sale at £13.56 for a pack of six (plus £3.90 postage), so that's three months at a very competitive price. I actually bought a couple of packs and the postage cost didn't go up at all, so it worked out even better.
The packaging consists of a basic cardboard box with a simple blue and white design. On one side, the power of the lenses is written along with the expiry date which, for these ones, gives me five years to use them. Inside, the three pairs are neatly stored together, with each pair of moulded plastic containers fitting snugly with each other. Each one is sealed with a foil-type top upon which the power and expiry date is again printed.
The lenses are made from a silicone substance called Hilafilcon B and have a slight blue tint to them. I think this is standard in order to help you find them in the saline solution in your contact lens container and if you ever drop them for example. Each lens is made up of 59% water, hence the name Soflens 59, and each one is stored in a solution of borate buffered saline. For fitting to the eye, the base curve is 8.6mm and the diameter is 14.2mm as standard.
I've been using these for a couple of months now, mainly for days and nights out, and I have no complaints whatsoever. To avoid any potential soreness, I always apply plenty of saline solution and once the lens is placed on the eye, I will apply some more saline solution just to make sure there is no risk of discomfort. I can happily report that I haven't experienced any discomfort with these contact lenses. I don't work on the computer when I have them in though so I can't say whether they are conducive to that environment. I have kept them in all day even to the point where I forget I'm wearing them. I remember times in the past when lenses would get sore during the day, so I keep my lenses container in my pocket just in case I have to suddenly take them out, but there have been no problems thus far. Also there have been times where I thought I might have torn them, but then discovered this not to be the case, so another plus point is that the material seems to be very durable.
Overall, I'm very happy with this purchase. They are the cheapest monthly contact lenses I have seen and they have not disappointed me at all, so I will certainly be looking to purchase the same product again once my current supply runs out.
I have worn contact lenses for over 20 years now. I started with regular soft contact lenses, then I progressed to monthly disposable lenses, and for the last 10 years I have been wearing daily disposable lenses. Although I've been very happy with my daily disposables, like many people I am currently looking for ways to economise and minimise my regular outgoings. The daily disposables cost me £22 per month, so when I visited my optician last year, I asked about cheaper alternatives.
My optician recommended returning to monthly disposable lenses as a cheaper option, and when he quoted £26 for a pack of 6 of lenses (3 months supply if you have the same prescription in both eyes), I very quickly agreed. I realised later, however, that I hadn't factored the cost of the cleaning solutions into my calculations, so although they are definitely less expensive than the daily disposable lenses, the swap does not generate such a huge saving as I originally thought (luckily, I don't work in Banking!).
These lenses are made by Bausch & Lomb, a US company that started as a small optical shop in 1853 and has now grown into a multi-billion dollar corporation with products sold in over 100 countries. As well as producing a range of contact lenses, they also make a variety of pharmaceutical products, and products for cataract and retinal surgery.
Soflens 59 monthly contact lenses are supplied in a cardboard pack containing 6 lenses. Inside the cardboard pack each individual lens is stored in a blister pack, with a plastic bowl at the bottom, and a foil lid on top (like a yogurt pot lid), which keeps the lens sterile. The lens floats in a buffered saline solution within the plastic bowl. Saline is a sterile solution of sodium chloride in water, in the ratio 9 grams per 1 litre of water. This is similar to the ratio found naturally in optical fluid, so it does not irritate or sting the delicate cornea when the lens is placed in the eye.
Each blister pack containing a lens has relevant information printed on the top. This information includes the power of the lens, useful if like me you have different prescriptions in each eye. It also states the expiry date, which is usually several years in the future, the lot number, confirmation that the product is sterile, and confirmation that the pack can be recycled. Information on the fit of the lens can also be found on the lid, the base curve of these lenses is 8.6 and the diameter is 14.2. These measurements relate to the size and curvature of the lens, and will affect how comfortable they feel when placed on the cornea. For me, this is the ideal fit; it is exactly the same as the daily disposable lenses I had previously been using.
The lenses are made from a moulded silicone hydrogel, called Hilafilcon B. It is a very soft, but durable, material however, the lens is noticeably thicker than the more delicate daily disposables. This increased robustness, along with a faint tint, which is not detectable when worn, makes them much easier to handle and insert.
The level of comfort experienced by contact lens wearers is often directly influenced by the water content of the lens. These lenses have a mid-level water content, with the lens being made up partly of water and partly of silicone hydrogel.
I believe the difficulties I experienced with these lenses are due to a lower water content than I had become used to with my previous lenses. Although I have always tended to wear lenses for longer periods than is generally recommended, when I started using these monthly lenses I was very careful to ensure I didn't exceed the specified periods. Despite this, I found that after a few hours my eyes became dry and itchy. I tried using eye drops designed for contact lens wearers, and although this resolved the problem in the short term, I found that relatively quickly they became increasingly uncomfortable. Despite persevering for a couple of months, in the hope that my eyes would adapt, I eventually found myself unable wear these lenses for more than 8 - 10 hours per day, and the last few hours would be uncomfortable. Most evenings I was left with sore, slightly bloodshot eyes, and frequently found them difficult to remove, as they had dried out a little whilst in my eyes. I also found the thickness of the lens itself meant that I was aware that I was wearing them, and could feel them in my eye at all times, for me this wasn't ideal.
I was really disappointed that these lenses didn't suit me, and I have now returned to using daily disposables. These Softlens 59 monthly lenses are certainly a good price, and may suit people with less sensitive eyes than mine. The vision correction they provided was faultless, and although I can't recommend them based on my own experience, they may well be worth trying if you know that you are not susceptible to experiencing dry eyes.