Types of Contact Lenses
Confused about contacts? Advances in contact lens technologies have created many options in addition to hard and soft lenses. Today, contact lenses are likely to be described in one or several of the following ways.
Below is a brief comparison of Soft and Rigid Gas Permeable (RGP) contact lenses. A thorough eye examination and a better understanding of your specific vision requirements will help determine the best options for you.
Soft Contact Lenses
- Greater initial comfort than hard or rigid gas permeable (RGP) lenses.
- Shorter adaptation period for new wearers.
- Ideal for intermittent wear.
- Less susceptible to the intrusion of foreign objects under the lens, such as dust.
- Less sensitivity to light than with hard or RGP lenses.
- Rarely fall out of the eye, making them ideal for sports, particularly contact sports such as football or basketball.
- Available in tinted versions.
- Less durable than hard or RGP lenses.
- May dry out, causing discomfort for some, especially under a hair dryer, in hot rooms, or in windy, dry weather.
- More involved lens care, especially for conventional soft lenses.
- Susceptible to more protein or lipid deposits that reduce lens performance in the long term.
- May absorb chemicals from the environment, which can cause irritation.
Soft contact lenses can either be daily wear (taken out at night) or extended wear (overnight use, up to seven days). Be sure to talk to our optometrists to determine which type of contact lens you would like. Note that extended wear lenses do come with risks.
Usually our optometrists suggest daily contact lenses. These are lenses that you wear during the day, take out at night, and throw them away to put in a new pair the next day. It is important to replace contact lenses frequently, because almost immediately after they are inserted, contact lenses begin attracting deposits of proteins and lipids. Accumulated deposits, even with routine lens care, begin to erode the performance of your contacts and create a situation that presents a greater risk to your eye health. Besides daily contact lenses, there are also options of lenses that last for 2 weeks, for 1 month, or for 3 months.
Soft contact lenses can also be used for colored contact lenses. The colors can either be a cosmetic enhancement tint that is designed to enhance your natural eye color. They are best for light-colored eyes (blues, greens, light hazel or grays). When wearing these tints, the color of your eye is a blend of the lens tint and your natural eye color and iris pattern. There are also opaque or "cosmetic" tints change the color of your eyes whether they are dark or light. The pattern on the lens, which is colored, overlies the colored part of your eye, resulting in a color with a natural look.
Rigid Gas Permeable (RGP) lenses
RGP lenses are, as the name implies, rigid, but the plastics of which they are made are somewhat more flexible than hard lenses. Newer RGP lenses offer the advantage of allowing more oxygen to pass through to the eye. Sometimes they are referred to as "Oxygen Permeable Lenses". They are available in daily wear and extended wear options.
- Good vision.
- Correct most corneal astigmatism.
- Good durability.
- Good handling characteristics.
- Easier care.
- Less initial comfort than soft lenses.
- Longer adaptation period required than soft lenses.
- More easily dislodged.
- Can scratch and break.
- Intermittent wear less feasible.
Both soft contact lenses and hard contact lenses can be made to correct for nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism, and bifocals!