Today’s contact lens wearers have so many options when it comes to contacts. Modern contacts come in various materials, wearing and replacement schedules, and colors. Some are even equipped with special features to correct certain refractive errors.
If you’re a first-time contact lens wearer, the variety of contact lens options available can be overwhelming. But don’t fret. Lens.com is here to help you decide. In this article, we discuss the different types of contact lenses and why they may or may not be the best option for you.
What are the different types of contact lenses?
1. Soft contact lenses
Soft contact lenses are made of soft, flexible plastics that allow oxygen into the cornea (the clear, dome-shaped front surface of the eye). They’re generally easier to adjust to and are more comfortable than hard contacts, also known as rigid gas-permeable (RGP) lenses.
Soft lens materials include hydrogels and silicone hydrogels.
Hydrogel is a thin, pliable polymer that contains water. It easily conforms to the shape of the human eye.
Should you wear hydrogel contact lenses?
Hydrogel contact lenses are comfortable and easy to wear. Hydrogel itself is also biocompatible with the human eye, which means it doesn’t induce adverse reactions. If you have sensitive eyes, hydrogel contact lenses may be a good option for you.
- Silicone hydrogel
Silicone hydrogel is a polymer that contains both silicone and hydrogel. Silicone is a gel-like polymer with a high degree of flexibility, which makes it a superb material for contact lenses.
Should you wear silicone hydrogel contact lenses?
Silicone hydrogel allows more oxygen into the cornea than hydrogel. This is why silicone hydrogel contacts are suitable for overnight or continuous wear. If you prefer wearing contacts for long periods and aren’t allergic to silicone, silicone hydrogel contacts may be for you.
2. Toric contact lenses
Toric lenses are contacts designed to correct astigmatism — an imperfection in the curvature of the eye that causes blurred vision. They can also correct myopia (nearsightedness) and hyperopia (farsightedness), which can occur alongside astigmatism.
Toric contact lenses are shaped differently from standard contact lenses. Standard contact lenses have a spherical shape. Think of a slice of the side of a beach ball. Meanwhile, toric contact lenses are shaped like a torus, which closely resembles a donut. This shape creates different focusing (refractive) powers on the vertical and horizontal orientations of the lens. These powers increase or decrease gradually as you move around the lens.
Since toric lenses have a particular orientation, they need to be placed on the eye a certain way. Manufacturers design toric lenses with features to help the lenses stay put. These features include thin-thick zones, lens truncation, and ballasting.
Should you wear toric contact lenses?
If you have astigmatism and prefer contact lenses over eyeglasses, toric contact lenses are a good option.
3. Colored contact lenses
Colored contacts are contacts that have had a dye incorporated into the lens material. This dye gives the lens a certain color, the opacity of which will depend on the type of tint that the lens has.
Colored contacts come in three tints, namely:
- Opaque – Opaque-tinted contact lenses are solid and non-transparent. Therefore, they can change your natural eye color completely. Opaque-tint contacts work best for people with dark eyes who want to try a light eye color.
- Enhancement – As the name suggests, colored contacts with enhancement tints enhance your natural eye color. They’re best suited for people with light-colored eyes who want to make their natural eye color appear brighter and more stunning.
- Visibility – Visibility-tinted contacts are only lightly tinted, meaning they won’t enhance or alter your natural eye color. The tint is only there to help you spot the contacts in your contact lens case for easier handling during insertion or removal.
Manufacturers may also call colored contacts cosmetic, novelty, special effect, or Halloween lenses. No matter the name, colored contacts are still considered medical devices, even if they don’t correct vision. Therefore, they must be properly fitted and prescribed by an eye care professional (ECP).
Should you wear colored contact lenses?
Colored contact lenses are available with power for people who need vision correction and with zero power for people who only want to change their natural eye color for cosmetic reasons.
4. Rigid gas-permeable (RGP) contact lenses
As their name suggests, RGP contacts are more rigid than soft contacts. They’re also naturally resistant to deposit buildup because they’re not made of materials that contain water.
Moreover, RGP contacts are highly breathable. They help to keep your eyes moist throughout the day. RGP contacts also typically provide sharper vision than soft contacts. Plus, they can be worn daily for up to a year before they need to be replaced.
RGP contacts can correct virtually all kinds of refractive errors, including myopia, hyperopia, astigmatism, and presbyopia (an age-related eye condition that makes nearby objects appear blurry).
The only downside to RGP contacts is they’re not as comfortable as soft contacts upon insertion. For most people, adjusting to RGP contacts is a lengthy process that can take several weeks.
Should you wear RGP contact lenses?
If you’re willing to go through a period of adaptation to contact lens wear, RGP contacts are a good option for you. You can also talk to your ECP about trying RGP contacts if soft contacts don’t give you your desired visual acuity.
5. Multifocal contact lenses
Multifocal contact lenses have multiple prescriptions in one lens. They provide clear vision at all distances to people with presbyopia. Presbyopia usually becomes noticeable when you reach the age of 40 and continues to worsen as you get older.
Multifocal contacts are available in several designs, including concentric, aspheric, and segmented designs. They’re also available in both RGP and soft lens materials.
Should you wear multifocal contact lenses?
If you have presbyopia and prefer contact lenses over eyeglasses, multifocal contact lenses are a good option. Consult your ECP about which type of multifocal contact lenses are best for you.
The best contact lenses for you depend on a number of factors, including your lifestyle, your visual needs, and possibly even your budget. Your ECP will take all of these factors into account when prescribing contacts.
Once you have a copy of your prescription, head on over to Lens.com and choose from our wide selection of contact lenses.