What Are the Different Types of Contact Lenses?
Have you been wearing eyeglasses for a long time? You might be interested to try out a safe alternative. Get an idea of what types of contact lenses there are and which ones suit you best.
What Are Contact Lenses?
The contact lens is a thin, soft, curved lens worn on your eyes. These contact lenses sit directly on the surface of your eyes, specifically on the structure called the cornea. Contacts are usually used as a safe and effective alternative to eyeglasses, as they provide the correction of vision minus the visible apparatus on your face. Like eyeglasses, contact lenses help to correct conditions such as nearsightedness or myopia, farsightedness or hyperopia, astigmatism and presbyopia.
Benefits of Using Contacts
Contacts have multiple uses and there are different types of contact lenses. They provide benefits that most eyeglasses cannot. Contacts do not have blind spots as eyeglasses do, therefor they give you better peripheral vision. Consider getting contacts if you are into sports or doing physical activities. Also, contacts are not prone to fogging, unlike eyeglasses.
You may also consider getting contacts purely for cosmetic reasons. Contacts give a more natural feel compared to wearing eyeglasses. The common cosmetic trend is to change your eye color by using colored contact lenses. You can even alter the look of your eyes, like when you wear cat eye contact lenses.
There are also contacts used to provide therapy after an optical procedure or to help cure an eye injury. If you had an injured cornea, contacts will help heal and protect your eyes.
Different Types of Lenses
Contacts come in different types of materials. It will depend on your preference and your doctor’s prescription as to which type you use.
Rigid Gas Permeable Contact Lenses
Rigid gas permeable, or RGP contacts, are made of a semi-flexible plastic that lets air circulate through your eyes, providing comfort to the wearer. RGPs provide clear and sharp vision and are ideal in astigmatism or other irregular shaped eyes. RGPs are easy to wear and are easy to maintain. Some RGPs are available in bifocals and in tints. The tint helps you find your contact lenses quickly from your lens case.
However, the RGPs downside is in its need to be consistently worn for your eyes to get adapted to it. Something to take note of as well is that RGPs tend to slip from the center of your eyes. As RGPs are able to circulate air into your eyes, foreign matter may get in between the contacts and your eyes.
Daily Wear Soft Contact Lenses
Compared to RGPs, daily wear soft lenses are more comfortable and harder to slip from your eyes. Like RGPs, daily wears are also available in bifocals. Some daily wears do not require cleaning. Given its very short adaptation period and comfort, daily wear soft lenses are ideal if you have an active lifestyle.
The downside of daily wear soft lenses is that they do not correct all vision problems and their vision is not as sharp compared to RGPs. These contacts wear out over time and you will need to have it replaced periodically.
Extended Wear Contact Lenses
In case you do not like the idea of wearing and removing your contacts on a daily basis, consider buying extended wear contacts. Extended wear contacts are available in both soft and RGP lenses. These lenses can be worn from seven to 30 days, depending on the Food and Drug Administration's approval.
Like daily wears, extended wear contacts cannot correct all vision problems. Another downside of extended wear is that it requires regular monitoring and professional care. If strict cleaning procedures are not followed properly, complications may occur.
Extended wear disposable contacts are discarded after use. With proper handling, it has less risk of eye infection compared to its non-disposable counterpart. Also, these lenses are available in bifocals.
Planned Replacement Contact Lenses
Planned replacements are soft daily wear contacts that are replaced periodically. It is replaced bimonthly, monthly, or quarterly, depending on the lens. Generally, these contacts are good for your eye health, as there will be less chances of eye problems resulting from deposits building up on the lens surface.
Advice From Personal Experience
I have worn extended wear contacts long before disposables were available in the market. My contacts required frequent cleaning and care. The ones that I wore were soft. I accidentally tore it during one long distance travel. My mistake was that I removed them and stored my lenses in the darkened automobile, not realizing that it got pinched between the lid and the case. My additional advice for you is to handle your contacts in a properly lit area.
Why Consult an Eye Specialist
Given that contact lenses are medical devices, they require a prescription from your eye specialist, whether it be an optometrist or an ophthalmologist. They will check the required optical power for your contacts and the appropriate material and size. This ensures your comfort in wearing your contacts and prevents eye complications.
In addition to the required prescription, your eye specialist will also provide the lens cleaning kits and instructions on how to properly wear and maintain your contacts. Expect to have a scheduled follow up visit for continuous management of your eye and contact lenses.
Consequently, your eye specialist may choose not to recommend contacts. This may happen if you have eye infections, severe allergies, or difficult to treat dry eyes. In this case, you may then consider getting eyeglasses instead. Working in a dusty environment will also make it difficult for you to maintain or even wear your contacts, unless you are wearing the right gears to protect your eyes.
Lastly, wearing contact lenses requires scheduled cleaning and maintenance, so it is better to not get a pair if you cannot provide ample time for this responsibility. Wearing contacts provide a level of freedom incomparable to eyeglasses. You just need the right prescription, as well as the dedication to cleaning and maintaining your contact lenses.
- CooperVision (What Are Contact Lenses?)
- Kellogg Eye Center (Contact Lenses)
- American Optometric Association (Healthy Vision and Contact Lenses)
- All About Vision (Contact lens basics: Types of contact lenses and more)
- American Academy of Ophthalmology (How to Take Care of Contact Lenses)
- Dr. Wong & Associates Family Eyecare (Tinted Contact Lenses)
- Cooper Vision (Extended Wear Contact Lenses)