Contact Lens Basics

People are no longer constrained to wearing eyeglasses because they can use contact lenses instead. It’s pretty obvious that wearing contact lenses offer several advantages you don’t get from regular eyeglasses.

  • They don’t negatively affect your appearance.
  • They don’t get in the way of sports and other physical exertions.
  • They’re more accurate in correcting your sight because they also affect your peripheral vision.
  • You don’t have to keep cleaning the lenses like you do with your eyeglasses.

All these benefits explain why the use of contact lenses keeps becoming more popular each year.

Different Lens Materials

When you’re considering contact lenses, your first choice is usually about which material to use for your lenses.

  • Hard PMMA lenses. There was a time when these things were the only option available. These are made from polymethyl methacrylate, which are marketed with names like “Plexiglas” and are used for shatterproof windows. While these offered terrific optics, they are also very difficult to get used to because they don’t transmit oxygen to the eyes. Nowadays, they’re very rarely prescribed and they account for just 1% of contact lenses fittings in 2015.
  • Soft Hydrogel lenses. These came out first in the 1970s and they became quite popular right away. These are thin and pliable lenses that conformed to the front eye surface very well, so they’re very comfy to wear. However, more advanced hydrogel lenses are now available, so these regular soft contact lenses only account for 20% of all contact lenses fittings.
  • Gas Permeable lenses. These are rigid contact lenses that first became available in 1978. They’ve now basically replaced the old-fashioned PMMA lenses. That’s because they also offer excellent optics but they’re also more comfortable to wear than the previous PMMA versions. About 9% of all contact lenses fittings involve GP lenses.
  • Silicone hydrogel lenses. These are currently the most popular lenses in the US, with 68% of the new contact lenses fittings. That’s because they’re even more porous than standard hydrogel lenses so they’re really more comfy to wear.
  • Hybrid lenses. In these lenses, you have GP material in the center for superb optics, and then a layer of silicone hydrogel around the central zone for greater comfort. So you get the benefits of both GP and silicone hydrogel lenses. But these are more expensive, and also more difficult to fit to your eyes. For these reasons, they only account for 2% of all contact lenses fittings.

Wearing Time

Some contact lenses are “daily wear” lenses, and this means you have to remove them every night and clean them. But you now have the option of using “extended wear” lenses which you can wear overnight up to 7 days straight. There are now even “continuous wear” lenses which can be worn for 30 days straight.

Discarding Contact Lenses

Unlike eyeglasses, contact lenses need to be discarded and replaced more frequently. That’s because lens deposits can build up and these can increase the risk of eye infections. Here are your most common options:

  • Frequent replacement. These lenses need to be replaced every month or every 3 months. This type of lenses is very popular, and they account for 45% of all prescribed contact lenses.
  • Daily disposable lenses. You need to dispose of these lenses after wearing them for just a day. About 28% of all lenses are of this type.
  • You have to discard these lenses every 1 to 2 weeks at the most. About 26% of all lenses are disposable.
  • Traditional reusable lenses. These can be used for 6 months before you need to replace them. Now they’re only used for just 1% of all lenses.

Talk to your doctor before you make any decisions. That should ensure that you can make the best decisions possible for your situation.