If your vision requires adjusting, your doctor may prescribe either contact lenses or glasses — perhaps the option of either. While there are several advantages to contact lenses, they may not be for everyone. To help answer your questions and aid in your decision, here are the basics you need to know.
What are Contact Lenses?
A contact lens is defined by Britannica as a “thin artificial lens worn on the surface of the eye to correct refractive defects of vision.” Unlike glasses, contact lenses fit directly over your cornea.
Types of Contact Lenses
There are two main types of contact lenses: hard and soft. Depending on your vision needs, your eye doctor may prescribe one over the other, but here are the main differences between them.
Also called a gas-permeable (GP) lens, hard contacts are made with silicone polymers, and allow oxygen to flow more easily through them. Unlike soft lenses, which are partly composed of water, hard lenses tend to last longer, and are less likely to dry out. Because of this structural difference, ScienceLine further points out that, “For certain vision corrections, rigid gas permeable lenses provide clearer, more precise vision than soft lenses.”
There are different types of soft lenses available, including:
- Daily disposable (thrown out nightly and replaced with a new pair the next morning)
- Extended-wear disposable (worn all day, and replaced every 1, 2, or 4 weeks)
- Toric (specifically designed for moderate astigmatism)
- Bifocal (corrects both nearsightedness and farsightedness)
Typically made of polymer- or silicone-hydrogels with high water content, soft lenses are usually more comfortable, but also more delicate and prone to tearing.
Hybrid contacts are a newer development in contact lenses, which allow for some of the vision corrective qualities of hard lenses, with similar soft lens comfort.
How Do I Put in Contacts?
Your eye doctor can show you the best way to put in your contacts during an individual appointment. Though it may take practice — and always requires careful cleanliness — these steps from the experts at WebMD may also help.
Can I Be Allergic to Contacts?
In general, people rarely develop allergies to the lenses themselves, because contacts are made from medical grade hypoallergenic materials. Read more about contact lens allergies in our blog post dedicated to the topic.
Do Contacts Expire?
Yes, indeed! Contacts should not be worn after their expiration dates, due to the risk of harmful eye infections. You can read further about expired lenses and the problems they can cause in our blog post dedicated to them.
Do All Contacts Require a Prescription?
All contact lenses should come with a prescription. “There are numerous reports detailing infections resulting in significant vision loss in individuals using cosmetic contact lenses obtained from improper sources without medical supervision,” the American Optometric Association warns.
How Do I Care for my Contact Lenses?
Cleanliness is key for contact lenses, to prevent harmful eye infections. Clean and disinfect your contact lenses any time they’re removed, before you put them back in. Different lenses may require different cleaning solutions or methods, so follow your doctor’s instructions and the instructions on the cleaning solution. The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends using a “rub and rinse” cleaning method no matter what type of cleaning solution you have. They also warn against wearing contact lenses while swimming or bathing, or rinsing them with either tap or sterile water.
Though all this information may sound overwhelming, our specialists are here to help. For more information about contact lenses or any of your eye care, make an appointment online, or call us at (404) 351-2220.