There is no shortage of reasons to consider contact lenses if your natural vision isn’t the best.
Contacts move with your eyes to give you a natural field of view. They don’t have the same peripheral restrictions that eyeglasses have, as you don’t have to deal with obstruction from frames. You also don’t have to worry about wearing contacts during sports and other physical activities, and they don’t fog up or get splattered by water. But choosing the contact lenses that are best for you can be a tad bit overwhelming, sometimes.
The selection process basically boils down to two main factors: The material and disposability of the contacts. Here is a deep dive into those factors. Your optometrist can likely give you a rundown of the pros and cons of different contact types, as well.
Choosing between soft or rigid contact lenses
Soft contact lenses are much more popular than rigid or RGP (rigid gas-permeable) lenses. Most soft lenses are made from a special type of flexible plastic that is mixed with water, which allows oxygen to permeate through the lens to your cornea. It’s easy for the eyes to adjust to soft lenses because their flexible material slides right over the eye and assimilates fast, usually providing instant comfort. Since they are by far the more popular type of lens, soft contacts come in much more variety in terms of prescription variance and design. Proteins, dirt particles and bacteria do tend to build up in the soft lens material, which is why they require more cleaning maintenance than the alternative.
RGP lenses are made from a silicon-based material and are much stiffer than soft lenses, as their name suggests. They can correct astigmatism in patients and generally provide sharper accuracy when it comes to detail work and close-up vision. RGP lenses are also known for their durability. They don’t rip or tear as easily as soft lenses do. But because the material doesn’t have a ton of give, RGP lenses can be a bit uncomfortable at first until your eyes get used to them. Other, less common types of lenses may be prescribed to you in some cases.
Bifocal lenses can help people who have trouble with both nearsightedness and farsightedness. They come in soft and RGP options.
There are also monovision lenses, which feature different prescriptions in both eyes. These can take a while to get used to and present issues with depth perception.
Extended wear vs. daily wear
Most lenses are designed to be disposed of on a daily, weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly basis. Disposable contacts designed to be worn over the course of several days should be stored in a case filled with contact solution overnight for cleaning purposes.
Be sure to clean out the remnants of the solution before refilling your lens case with new solution each night. Single-day lenses do not require any cleaning or maintenance; just toss them in the trash and open a new pair the next morning.
Other contact lens considerations
Before buying contacts, you will need a diagnostic examination first. The exam will be baked into the initial fees. Some other services and materials that might be included in the initial cost are:
- A lens care kit
- Follow-up office visits
- Lens wear and care training
Remember that contact lenses aren’t for sharing. Even if you and a friend have the same prescription, passing along different particles and bacteria to other people’s eyes could open you both up to the possibility of infection. Be sure to consult with your optometrist during every step of the contact lens selection process. Keep reading:
- Signs of Back-to-School Anxiety in Kids
- Group B Strep: Who is at Risk?
- Migraines vs. Headaches: Know the Difference
Photo credit: Getty Images