There are a lot of things to consider when choosing a new pair of glasses, but what about new contacts?
There may not be quite as much variety because you don’t have to think about frame shape and color, but there are still several different types of contact lenses to choose from. Let’s take a closer look at some of the main variables of contact lenses.
What are Contact Lenses?
Contact lenses are thin, clear plastic disks you wear in your eye to improve your vision. Contacts float on the tear film that covers your cornea. Like eyeglasses, contact lenses correct vision problems caused by refractive errors. A refractive error is when the eye does not refract (bend or focus) light properly into the eye resulting in a blurred image.
Contacts can improve vision for people with these refractive errors:
- Myopia (nearsightedness)
- Hyperopia (farsightedness)
- Astigmatism (distorted vision)
- Presbyopia (changes to near vision that normally happen with age)
Types of Contact Lenses
The two most common options for modern contact lenses are silicone hydrogels (soft contacts) and plastic (hard contacts). Both materials are quite breathable, allowing plenty of oxygen to reach the surface of the eye.
Soft contact lenses
Soft lenses offer better comfort and won’t slide around as much, but they can’t correct as many types of vision problems as the hard plastic lenses.
Hard contact lenses
The most common type of hard contact lens is a rigid gas-permeable (RGP) lens. These lenses are usually made from plastic combined with other materials. They hold their shape firmly, yet they let oxygen flow through the lens to your eye. RGP lenses are especially helpful for people with astigmatism and a condition called keratoconus. This is because they provide sharper vision than soft lenses when the cornea is unevenly curved. People who have allergies or tend to get protein deposits on their contacts may also prefer RGP lenses. Hard lenses are also easy to put on and clean, they last longer, and they cover less of the eye.
No matter which contact lenses you and your doctor chose, there’s an adjusting period to get use to your new contacts. Generally, soft contact lenses worn for 2 hours on the first day and the wearing time is increased by about 2 hours per day, up until 8 hours of daily wear is achieved. Most people choose to wear soft contact lenses because they tend to be more comfortable.
Contact Lens Modalities
Dailies or Monthlies?
Would you prefer to wear the same contact lenses every day or throw a pair away every time you take them out? There are advantages and disadvantages for each type. Dailies reduce the risk of infection because they go straight from their packaging to your eyes. They’re also very convenient because you don’t have to worry about cleaning them. They do, however, tend to be pricier.
If you don’t mind the cleaning routine and prefer to spend less on your lenses, monthlies could be a better option, and if you want the best of both worlds, there are also weekly disposable lenses! No matter which ones you choose, make sure to follow the directions for how long to wear them. Don’t stretch them out beyond the recommended time.
Daily or Extended Wear Lenses?
In addition to how long each pair of contacts is meant to last, there are also differences in how long they are designed to be safely worn before being removed. For the sake of the health of your eyes, it is essential to only wear your contacts for the recommended length of time. Do not wear daily lenses as if they were extended wear lenses, and don’t push it with extended wear lenses.
The reason it’s so important to follow these instructions is that the longer we wear contacts, the more bacteria can stick to them. It’s like wearing a tiny petri dish on your eye, which makes eye infections much more likely. If you think you’re going to forget to take your contacts out before you fall asleep sometimes, you might do better with extended wear.
Other types of contact lenses
These can correct vision for people with astigmatism, though not as well as hard contact lenses. Toric lenses can be for daily or extended wear. But they often cost more than other types of soft contact lenses.
Colored (tinted) contacts.
Vision-correcting contact lenses can be tinted to change the color of your eye. You can get them as daily wear, extended wear, and toric lenses.
Decorative (cosmetic) contacts.
These lenses change the look of your eye but do not correct vision. They include colored contacts and lenses that can make your eyes look like vampires, animals or other characters. Also, they are used to hide certain eye problems either present from birth or caused by injuries.
Contacts for presbyopia
Presbyopia contacts are designed to correct the normal vision problems people get after age 40, when it becomes harder to see close objects clearly. There are different options for these corrective lenses.
These contacts do not have a prescription built into them. Instead, they cover the surface of your cornea for comfort after an injury or surgery.
Let’s Find the Perfect Contacts for You!
How long they last, how long you can wear them before your eyes need a break, and what they’re made out of are good places to start, but we haven’t even gotten into toric vs. spherical lenses, colored lenses, tinted lenses, and more. If it all seems overwhelming, don’t worry, because we’ve got your back. We’re happy to answer any of your contact lens questions, so give us a call or email us to schedule an appointment!
We correct your eyesight in the way that looks and feels best for our patients! Call us at 407-292-9812 to schedule an appointment.
Top image by Flickr user Paul Kelley used under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 4.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original.
The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.