For anyone that suffers from bad eyesight but wants to wear funky lenses, I feel your pain. Awesome lenses that come with a prescription are hard to find, and cost more *sob* and once in a while you’ll see some truly amazing lenses only to discover you can’t get them with a prescription for love nor money *double sob*. When I first heard about stacking contact lenses I thought my multicoloured eye dreams were going to come true! Sadly, it’s not that simple.
I’m sure that everyone that’s ended up on this post knows that there’s some risk involved so first let’s go over what exactly the potential dangers are, then we’ll go over some tips for anyone that decides to go ahead anyway (or skip straight to the tips here).
Oxygen vs Eyeballs
Wearing lenses means your lovely eyeballs are getting less oxygen than a lens free eye would. But lenses have been designed in a way that your eyes won’t be so deprived of oxygen that it will do any damage (unless you are ignoring your opticians instructions of course). Wearing two sets of lenses at the same time means your eyes are getting doubly deprived of oxygen which can cause a range of nasty consequences from blood vessels from the surrounding tissues growing into the cornea to corneal ulcers.
Stacking your lenses means that any bacteria is more likely to get stuck to them. Essentially you are giving it extra space to stick to because of the thickness of the two lenses together. Bacteria can also get trapped between the two lenses.
Extra thickness = Extra irritating
Once you’re used to wearing contact lenses you don’t even feel them once they’re in. But, stacked lenses are double as thick so you could find that they irritate your eye. Even if you don’t feel it initially, you might find that they start irritating you a lot quicker than a single pair would.
Instead of having to produce enough moisture to keep your eyeball and one lens moist, it now has a whole extra lens to keep moist too. It probably won’t be able to keep up, especially if you’re wearing them for more than a couple of hours.
You could ruin your lenses
Getting them in and out of your eye is going to be more tricky, and if your eyes get dry then you might find on removal that your lenses have stuck together. When you pull them apart you risk tearing your lenses, the edges of your lens becoming weakened or jagged, or just generally trashing them.
There is a possibility that your lenses won’t stick together properly once they’re in which basically means the first lens will sit in it’s rightful place over your cornea, and the second lens will “float” around, so when you move your eye the second lens will not move as easily.
Alternatively, the lenses could stick together but you could end up with a sort of “dragging” situation going on where the lenses don’t move entirely with your eye, so you look left and your lenses follow but at a slower rate.
It seems like opticians are on two sides over piggybacking lenses. Some say it’s fine so long as it’s infrequent and not for long periods of time, others give a firm no don’t ever do this.
Scratching your cornea
Cornea scratches are serious business. Wearing two pairs of contact lenses in one eye can increase the chances of your cornea getting scratched which is pretty darn painful. For severe scratches you run the risk of getting an eye infection or even being left with a scar on your cornea.
Even with all the above information I’m pretty sure that at least some of you are still going to go ahead with it so here’s my tips for how to be as safe as you can.
Short periods of time
Try and only do this for as little time as possible and as infrequently as possible, the less time you are wearing them the less time your eyes are starved of oxygen.
Take your case
I’m assuming not many of you are planning to sit around in your house with stacked lenses, so wherever you are going make sure you bring your contact lens case, some solution, a spare pair of lenses and your glasses. This way if your eyes start to get red, dry or painful you can take out your lenses and pop on your specs/regular lenses. You want the spare pair of lenses just in case you trash the pair in your eyes.
Get the ones that are specifically for use when you are wearing contacts, and when your eyes are feeling dry you’ll be able to get some relief.
Getting the lenses apart
If your lenses are stuck together when you take them out don’t try and pull them apart, let them soak in solution for a while and they should come apart on their own.
Chat with your optician first
Your best bet is to go and see your own optician if you want to wear two pairs of contact lenses at the same time rather than relying on what you’ve seen on the internet. Everyones eyes are different, and most likely we are all wearing different types of lenses so it could be that for some lenses it’s fine and for others it’s a definite no. Only your optician really knows the answer.
Do NOT rub your eye
All contact lens wearers know they aren’t supposed to go rubbing their eyes, but most likely you’ve found some technique for when your eyes are a little itchy. Don’t do it while your wearing two pairs of lenses or you could end up with a scratched cornea.
Listen to your eyes
If your eyes start to get uncomfortable, red, super dry or painful take out your lenses. I’m sure everyones been there with one pair of lenses where you’ve just ridden it out because it’s been inconvenient to take them out, but with two pairs you really need to pay attention to your eyes.
Clean your lenses
Bacteria can get stuck between the two lenses so you really need to be on your lens cleaning game with them. Don’t store both pairs together, and make sure you clean both pairs really well.
Get regular checkups
You should be doing this anyway, but if you’re not and haven’t had your eyes checked out for a while go book an appointment. If there’s any kind of damage to your eyes then you really don’t want to be messing around with things like stacking your lenses.
Clean your hands between lenses
This may or may not be obvious, but if one of your lenses has some kind of bacteria in it, or one of your eyes has an infection, by not cleaning your hands between inserting lenses you’re spreading it onto the other lenses and other eye. Even if both the lenses are going in the same eye you should still clean your hands between them otherwise any bacteria is going to be wedged between the lenses for the rest of the day.
Personally, despite initially thinking I might have found an amazing way to cheaply up my eyeballs wardrobe game, after reading through what I could find online and speaking to a few opticians I’m not convinced that it’s worth it. My eyes are -7.50 so I know what it’s like to not be able to see well and I wouldn’t want to do anything that could make it worse.
Have any of you ever tried stacking contact lenses? Let us know if you’ve got any tips and whether or not you experienced any problems from doing it.