Which Type of Contact Lens Is Right for You?
Contact lenses are the preference of millions of nearsighted and farsighted Americans for good reason. The lenses offer exceptionally clear vision, don't fog up like eyeglass lenses, and can help you feel more confident about your appearance. Not sure which type of contacts lens is the best choice for you? Take a look at these popular lens options.
Soft Contact Lenses
If you're thinking about wearing contact lenses, chances are you're considering soft lenses. Ninety percent of contact wearers in the U.S. wear this type of lens, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Soft contact lenses are made of thin, flexible materials that make them a comfortable option for many people.
The lenses are comfortable from the moment you first put them in your eye and are an excellent option whether you're nearsighted, farsighted, have astigmatism, or have presbyopia. Presbyopia is an age-related focusing issue that makes it difficult to see close objects clearly.
Because the lenses are so flexible, they can tear if you don't handle them gently. Although soft lenses are a good choice for most people, they can increase your risk of dry eye or irritation.
Soft contact lens choices include:
- Daily Wear Lenses. These lenses are designed to be tossed out after you wear them for just one day.
- Extended Wear Lenses. Extended wear lenses are usually worn for several weeks or a month before they're discarded. At the end of the day, you'll clean the lenses and store them in a clean case. Although extended wear lenses can be worn overnight, wearing them while you sleep can increase your risk of irritation or infection. Your optometrist will recommend the ideal wearing schedule for you if you choose extended wear lenses.
- Multifocal Lenses. Bifocals or progressive eyeglasses aren't the only options if you have presbyopia. Multifocal contact lenses contain several lens powers, which makes it easy to see well at any distance. Wearing single power lenses with two different prescriptions is another option if you have presbyopia. One lens handles near distances while another helps you see objects in the distance.
Rigid Gas-Permeable Lenses
Rigid gas-permeable (RGP) lenses aren't as flexible as soft lenses but offer clearer vision. They can be a good choice if you don't feel your vision is sharp enough with soft lenses or have a high degree of astigmatism. Unlike soft lenses, RGP lenses don't cover the cornea completely. The cornea is the clear, rounded layer of cells that cover the iris and pupil. The smaller size of RGP lenses makes it easier for oxygen to reach your eye but also causes the lenses to move slightly every time you blink.
RGP lenses don't feel comfortable immediately. You may need to slowly increase your wearing schedule over the first few weeks until you can tolerate wearing the lenses all day.
Toric lenses are an excellent option if you have astigmatism. Astigmatism causes blurry spots in your near and far vision and occurs when your cornea isn't perfectly uniform. Toric contacts contain more than one lens power and are weighted to prevent the lenses from moving. They are available in both soft and RGP forms and may cost a little more than single-power lenses.
Hybrid Contact Lenses
Hybrid contact lenses consist of a gas-permeable core surrounded by a softer outer lens. They provide sharp vision and a comfortable feel but are usually the most expensive contact lens option.
Cosmetic lenses offer an excellent solution if you're dressing up for Halloween or attending a costume party and want to temporarily change the color of your eyes. Although cosmetic lenses are readily available at party supply stores and websites, these lenses may not be approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration like the lenses offered by your eye doctor. Your optometrist can help you find attractive cosmetic lenses that look natural and won't damage your eyes.
Are you interested in wearing contact lenses or changing the type of lenses you currently wear? Contact our office to schedule a contact lens exam.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Fast Facts, 7/26/18
American Academy of Ophthalmology: Contact Lenses for Vision, 3/4/2021
U.S. Food and Drug Administration: Types of Contact Lenses
All About Vision: Contact Lens Basics: Types of Contact Lenses and More, 11/2021
Mayo Clinic: Contact Lenses: What to Know Before You Buy, 10/23/2020