There are two general types of contact lenses: soft and rigid gas permeable hard. Both have unique benefits and some may even come with a colored tint, as bifocals, or as trifocals.
Soft lenses are usually disposable and can be thrown away after a short period of use (generally every two to four weeks) or daily, depending on the prescription. Being able to have a fresh pair of lenses means less chance of infection, less cleaning, and more comfort, especially for people whose eyes naturally produce more protein that clouds lenses. Soft lenses are made of a soft plastic and are very comfortable because they hold more water than rigid gas permeable lenses. Many of the new materials provide ultraviolet (UV) protection. While most people choose soft lenses because of their benefits, there are also some disadvantages. Soft lenses easily absorb pollutants that can irritate your eyes, like lotion or soap from your hands. They are also more fragile than hard lenses and can rip or tear while cleaning.
The latest revolutions in soft contact lens technology are Daily Disposables and New Silicone Extended Wear Disposables. Daily Disposables are contacts that are only worn one time and then thrown out. The benefits of Daily Disposables include never having to clean your contact lenses, convenient replacement schedule, and reduction of dry eye and irritation problems related to preserved solutions. These lenses are excellent for allergy sufferers.
The Silicone Extended Wear Disposables are made with a new material and can be worn for up to 30 nights and days. The new lenses provide the highest level of oxygen transmissibility (up to six times greater than ordinary lenses). The new silicone material also allows the lens to avoid deposit buildup and reduce dry eye irritation.
Rigid gas permeable (RGP) lenses are more rigid than soft lenses and therefore more durable for an active user. This type of hard contact lens is made with silicone polymers, allowing oxygen to circulate to the cornea of the eye. Older versions of hard lenses could not. RGPs maintain their shape better and offer clearer vision with some types of corrections. They are also extremely durable and easy to take care of. Deposits from tears and outside irritants are not as easily absorbed.
If you are considering an RGP lens, you should know that:
To achieve maximum comfort with RGP lenses, you have to wear them every day.
Colored tints can be added to certain lenses to make them easier to see when handling, enhance or change eye color, and improve contrast for outdoor sports like golf and softball. Contact lenses with novelty effects are available, but should still be handled and cared for like prescription lenses.
The type of vision correction you need, your lifestyle, and the expense will all play roles in your eye care specialist’s recommendations for the type of contact lenses that you should wear.
Contacts are generally not prescribed for people who:
Always wash your hands with warm water and soap before handling your contacts or before touching your eyes. Any residue from lotions, soaps, or chemicals may adhere to the lens, causing pain, irritation, or blurred vision. Dry your hands with a clean towel.
For chemical exposure in the eyes:
For an object in the eyes:
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This information is provided by the Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider for advice about a specific medical condition.
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