Contact lenses have some advantages over glasses. They sit directly on your eyes, so vision, particularly peripheral vision, is unobstructed. You can participate in sports and outdoor activities without fear of eyeglasses getting in the way, falling off or breaking. You can even change the color of your eyes with color contact lenses.
When you go in for your contact lens exam, you’ll have a choice of lens types, including soft, hard, and hybrid.
Types of Contacts
Soft Contacts: The majority of individuals choose soft contacts because of their comfort and lack of an adjustment period. These lenses are made from a flexible material. Soft contacts can be used to correct nearsightedness, farsightedness and mild to moderate astigmatism. Individuals who need multifocal lenses may also be able to get their prescription in soft contacts. If you have an astigmatism, a toric lens may be needed, which is a type of soft contact that is weighted on one end to prevent rotation.
By 1987 contact lens wearers were given a healthier and more convenient contact lens option - disposable soft contact lenses. Designed to be worn for a short time, disposable contact lenses are great for people with allergies and those who are concerned about getting eye infections from the build-up of bacteria and dirt under the lens. Disposable daily contact lenses do not require cleaning and are discarded daily. Other types may require minimal cleaning and disinfection. Today’s soft contact lenses are available as non-disposables, monthly or weekly disposables, and daily disposables.
Hard Contacts: Hard contacts are also known as gas permeable lenses or RGPs. These lenses are rigid and can offer better visual clarity for individuals with severe nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism, as well as individuals who need multifocal lenses. These lenses are also recommended for individuals with severely misshapen corneas due to surgery or conditions such as keratoconus. Hard contacts can require up to a two-week adjustment period before they become completely comfortable.
Hybrid Contacts: Hybrid contacts are a combination of soft and hard lenses. These contacts have a hard center surrounded by a soft ring. These lenses are similar to RGPs, but are more comfortable than hard contacts and may offer improved visual clarity over soft contacts for some people.
Specialty Contacts: Specialty contact lenses, such as scleral lenses, are designed to improve vision and fitting arrangements for people diagnosed with Keratoconus, severe dry eyes or other corneal conditions.
Frequently, contact lens exams require two appointments, one to determine your prescription and a second to make sure your lenses fit correctly and provide you with the desired vision correction. So, which contact lens option will you choose? Talk to your doctor about the best option for your eyes.