What a tricky question. One sits in the eyes, the other on the eyes. Both serve the same purpose. Which is the winner? We shall soon find out after discussing the merits and demerits of both without indulging in medical jargon.
A person who wears either one of them or both will be able to tell you more than any medical book or doctor. Experience speaks.
Well, we were in the happy in the world of spectacles till contact lenses became popular in the 1970s. After all, a person wearing a pair of spectacles was considered worthy of respect, looked up as studious, serious and wise. However, it was not so easy for women in the Indian context. Wearing spectacles was somewhat of a disqualification in the marriage market (it continues to this day).
The advent of contact lenses gave women the world over a cosmetic relief, especially since spectacle frames were not as chic as they are today. But contact lenses were a priced possession only of the rich since they were expensive and an object of envy in the ‘woman world’. Not quite surprisingly, women were the target market. Now, although there is a sizeable number of men opting for contact lenses too, the market continues to be dominated by women.
Back to the basics.
Contact lenses or spectacles?
I have used both, as a teenager, as a youth and as an adult but I will refrain from giving a sweeping statement because I am a writer and am bound by ethics to give a holistic viewpoint, which I will.
It all boils down to a matter of choice. To each his own. While aesthetics define the use to contact lenses, spectacles are defined by their easy handling. However, there are certain decisive factors both define the advantages of wearing either one of them.
Contact lenses, advantages
• Since they adjust to the curvature of the eye, they provide a wider field of view and cause less vision distortions and obstructions.
• They are great when playing sports and exercising or any other physical activity.
• You don’t have to match your contact lenses with your attire.
• They don’t fog up like spectacles do.
• You can experiment with your eye colour by wearing lenses of different colours.
Contact lenses, disadvantages
• Some people never get it right while putting them in their eyes and end up having red eyes or losing their contact lens.
• Contacts reduce the amount of oxygen reaching your eye and can cause or increase the severity of dry eye syndrome.
• And if you work for long hours on the computer, you could have computer vision syndrome.
• You have to be very very careful while using contacts if you want to avoid serious eye infections. Proper care is of utmost importance. This includes always keeping your hands clean, keeping the lens case clean, replacing the solution periodically etc.
• You can’t afford to fall asleep with lens still in your eyes. Your eyes are bound to get red and irritated. So, forget about dozing off at your whim. Also, it is not advisable to wear contacts when you are travelling.
• Spectacles, advantages
• There is very less chance of an eye infection.
• If you have dry or sensitive eyes, spectacles won’t aggravate it.
• Of course, they are cheaper than contacts and last longer too unless you break them. Should your prescription change over time, you can even retain the frame and change only the lens.
• Sometimes, they add to your personality and style statement.
• You don’t have to bother much about weather conditions. In fact, spectacles offer protection against dust and wind.
• The vision may not be as sharp as it is with contacts since spectacles sit about half an inch from your eyes, so peripheral vision can be distorted.
• Some people think they hide their features like a beautiful pair of eyes and a sharp nose. Also, they cannot make a style statement with them.
• The edges of the lens are thicker if you have a strong prescription, making your eyes appear unnaturally minified or magnified.
• They fog up in cold weather.
• There can be constant pressure on your nose and behind the ears due to some frames.
And now, my take
Having presented all aspects in black and white, I am in a safe zone now.
Truth be told and I speak from experience, a person can use spectacles as the first and only choice but a contact lens wearer cannot make any such claim. There is no way you can use contact lens 24×7. You have no choice but to switch over to spectacles.
At the risk of being crucified by contact lens manufacturers, I have to and must say, that by and large, wearing contact lenses is not conducive to the Indian environment (with the exception of winter) with extreme weather conditions, dust, grime, heat and pollution. I can say this with authority because I have spent a better part of my youth nursing red eyes,
Having said that, there are times I wish I could make a choice when I look at the mirror. It never says “You are the most beautiful of all” because my glasses never give me that ‘on top of the world feeling’ that a woman loves.
And I swear, I am tired of wiping the fog from my glasses every time I get out of my AC car because I can’t see a thing! I wish my glasses had little wipers!