Intro to Contact Lenses Types & How to Make the Best Choice
Contact lenses come in a wide and diverse range of options, including dailies, extended wear, multifocals, colored, hard and soft lenses. Do you really need to be careful about which lenses you select? Why is it so important to choose the right brand of contacts? Our Washington, DC, optometrists explain the reasons and provide tips to help you figure out which contact lens type is best for your eyes and lifestyle. Here is a basic review of the available contact lens options:
Soft vs. Hard Lenses
There are two basic types of contacts, hard and soft. Nowadays, the vast majority of people in the world who wear lenses choose soft contact lenses. They are made from specialized plastic mixed with water, and the water allows oxygen to pass through to your cornea. They are comfortable, reduce the incidence of dry eye, provide crisp vision, and have no adaptation period when you first wear them. Some soft contact lenses even offer built-in UV protection. However, soft lenses are relatively fragile and hard to handle.
Hard contact lenses, also known as rigid gas permeable lenses, are made from silicone and are oxygen permeable for a healthy cornea. Many people find that their vision is sharper with hard lenses. Also, if you have astigmatism or a medical condition that causes protein deposits to form easily on the contact lens – hard lenses may be a better option for you. You must remove, sterilize, and store hard lenses every night, and they are typically very long lasting due to their durable material.
Wearing Schedules for Soft Contact Lenses
The decision about which type of contact lens to purchase depends largely upon your lifestyle and personality. Are you the type of person who will never neglect to disinfect your lenses before going to bed, even when you’re totally wiped out? Will you be responsible with discarding your contacts and inserting a fresh pair according to their wearing schedule? Do you intend to take your lenses in and out multiple times each day? When you meet with our eye care specialists to discuss wearing contacts, we will discuss these issues (and more) to advise you on the best type to meet your needs.
Daily Wear Lenses
Generally the least expensive option, daily wear lenses must be removed and disinfected nightly. You will need to replace them on a set schedule, from every two weeks to every three months, depending upon the particular brand.
Extended Wear Lenses
These lenses are designed to be worn overnight. You need to remove, clean, and disinfect them at least once a week. Many eye care specialists do not recommend using this type because it decreases the quantity of oxygen that reaches your eyes. This raises the risk of eye infection.
Disposable Contacts – Dailies
Daily disposable contacts are thrown out after each use, so there is zero maintenance. This type of lenses costs more though, because you replace them with a fresh pair every day. However, they also offer ultimate convenience. Dailies are often a great choice for people with allergies, because airborne allergens do not have time to build up on the lenses. Daily disposable lenses are also well suited for other eye conditions that lead to the formation of protein deposits from tears.
Specialty Contact Lenses
- Multifocal Contacts: people with presbyopia benefit from these lenses, as they facilitate both near and far vision by looking through different prescription zones in the lenses
- Toric Lenses: used to correct astigmatism, which is when an irregular cornea or lens leads to blurred vision. They are available as both soft or hard contact lenses, in daily and extended wear versions.
- Colored Contacts: these fun lenses can change the color of your eyes dramatically, turning brown into blue, or you can use to just enhance your natural eye color. Colored lenses are available in prescription and non-prescription (cosmetic) versions.
How to Buy Your Contact Lenses Safely
- Don’t buy lenses out of boxes with a broken seal
- When buying contacts online, stick to our Washington Eye Doctors purchase site or another reputable website that will verify your prescription with your eye doctor
- Use an up-to-date vision prescription for contact lenses from your eye doctor. Prescriptions are only good for one year from the date they are issued; be sure to visit our Washington, DC, eye doctor for annual contact lens eye exams.
- When buying cosmetic lenses, check with your optometrist first. Cosmetic lenses, even non-prescription types, must be fit professionally and your eye health must be monitored.
Contact Lenses in Washington, DC
To learn more about the brands of contacts that we carry, contact our Washington Eye Doctors office to schedule a consultation and eye exam. We will recommend the best lenses to fit your eyes and your life.