How to Decide Your Contact Lens Type
Contact lenses come in many different forms and features and are usually composed of different plastic materials. The most common types of contacts are soft and rigid lenses. Within these two categories there are different wear forms including daily disposable, bi-weekly/monthly replacements and extended wear. Each type can also have different specialty features added to correct vision impairments such as astigmatism and presbyopia.
Soft Contact Lenses
Soft contact lenses are composed of soft, flexible water absorbing plastic for maximum comfort making them ideal for those who suffer from dry eyes. These lenses come in a variety of options including:
1. Daily Disposable
Disposable contact lenses are for one day use only and are disposed of each night. This makes them a convenient choice for those prone to allergies or who travel often. Disposable contact lenses require almost no maintenance because they are replaced with a fresh pair every day. However, they do tend to cost more than other contact lens types as they will be used and repurchased more frequently.
2. Bi-weekly/monthly Replacements
Bi-weekly/monthly contact lenses require the reuse of one pair for a set period of time (usually 2 weeks to a month). Bi-weekly/monthly contact lenses require daily maintenance since you will need to remove and clean your lenses every day. Bi-weekly/monthly replacement lenses tend to be more cost effective because you are reusing a pair of lenses multiple times and repurchasing less.
3. Extended wear
Extended wear contact lenses, like bi-weekly/monthly lenses, reuse one pair of lenses for a set period of time. However, they are designed for continuous use which means they can be worn overnight and do not need to be removed daily. Instead, extended wear contact lenses should be removed once a week for cleaning to avoid the possibility of an eye infection.
Rigid Contact Lenses
Rigid contact lenses are composed of hard plastic meaning they are more durable and hold their shape better than soft contact lenses:
Gas-permeable contact lenses are made of a thin durable plastic that allows oxygen to pass through to your eye. Since they are not made with water like soft contact lenses, they are easier to care for and are less likely to harbor bacteria. Gas-permeable contact lenses offer crisper vision and provide a more stable correction of astigmatism than soft contact lenses. Though they are initially more expensive, gas-permeable contact lenses are more durable and can last a year or longer with the proper care.
Specialty Contact Lenses
Specialty contact lenses are used to treat specific eye conditions such as astigmatism and presbyopia. Most times these lenses are available in different wear forms including daily disposables and extended wear and can also be made of gas-permeable material:
Bifocal and multifocal contact lenses are used to correct presbyopia (farsightedness). Bifocal and multifocal contact lenses utilize different prescription types throughout the lens to adapt to far, intermediate and near vision. Bifocal and multifocal contact lenses tend to be more expensive because they are considered specialty lenses.
Toric contact lenses are a specialty type of lens that has a unique shape to correct astigmatism, an irregularity in the shape of the cornea. Toric contact lenses resemble more of an oval shape, which differ from traditionally round contact lenses. Since they are specialty lenses, they tend to be more expensive than regular contact lenses.