If you’re interested in wearing contacts, you need to know all of the options at your disposal. Understanding the differences between each lens and the terminology can be confusing. We want to help you understand your eyes by providing you with a guide to contact lenses.
As some of these contacts are for hard-to-fit eyes, getting the opinion of a medical professional is always key. Schedule an exam with your ophthalmologist to see if your eyes require specific contact lenses. Conditions that may require a more in-depth contact lens exam can include but are not limited to astigmatism, dry eyes, giant papillary conjunctivitis (GPC), keratoconus, and presbyopia.
Two Types of Lenses
1. Soft lenses: Soft contact lenses easily adjust to your eye because they are made of soft, flexible plastics that allow necessary oxygen to pass through to the cornea. Soft lenses can be disposable or extended wear.
- Disposable: Disposable contacts are soft lenses that are worn during the day and then thrown away that same night when you go to sleep. These are recommended when you don’t wear contacts every day or if you’re concerned about maintaining extended wear contacts.
- Extended wear: Extended wear contacts are soft lenses that come in many different forms. These can be worn overnight and continuously for up to 30 days depending on the prescribed wearing period. Extended wear contacts should be removed for cleaning at least once a week and stored in contact solution.
2. Rigid gas permeable lenses (RGP or GP): GP lenses are hard contact lenses made from plastic combined with other materials. Unlike soft lenses, these lenses are smaller and hold their shape firmly while still letting oxygen flow through the lens to your eye. GP lenses provide sharper vision than soft lenses. However, they can take some time to get used to due to their hard nature. Many wearers claim that after the initial adaptation period, GP lenses are more comfortable than soft lenses.
Some eye conditions require special contacts. If you’ve had trouble wearing contacts or have been told you’re not a good candidate for them, you may just have eyes that are “hard-to-fit.” This doesn’t mean that you can’t wear contacts. You just need to know the options for your condition.
Astigmatism develops when your eye curves into an oval or “football” shape causing blurred vision. Toric, GP, or hybrid lenses can be worn with astigmatism.
1. Toric lenses: Toric lenses are soft lenses specifically designed to fix that irregular curvature. The prescription power varies depending on which part of the lens you’re looking through. Some toric lenses are weighted at the bottom to prevent rotation and keep them in the correct position.
2. GP lenses: Toric lenses can also be made in a hard lens. Toric GP lenses may be needed for a higher amount and/or less common type of astigmatism.
3. Hybrid lenses: Hybrid lenses combine the best of both worlds between soft and hard contacts. These lenses consist of a rigid center surrounded by a soft lens skirt. They give the vision quality of a GP lens with more comfort provided by the outer soft lens.
Dry eyes can cause the eye to become irritated and result in blurred vision. Regular soft lenses can become uncomfortable because they absorb some of your eye’s moisture. Eye drops, in addition to regular soft lenses, may be recommended first to treat your dry eye condition. If those do not work, switching to dry eye or GP lenses could help.
1. Dry eye lenses: Dry eye lenses are soft lenses designed specifically for people with dry eyes. They are made with different materials and water contents than regular soft lenses, resulting in better water retention.
2. GP lenses: Some specialists prefer using GP lenses on patients with dry eyes. GP lenses don’t absorb as much moisture as soft lenses and don’t cover as much of the eye. This leads to less dry eye-related discomfort.
If you don’t see your eye condition listed, don’t worry! Stay tuned for part two of What Contact Lenses Are Right For You? to learn more about your contact lens options. The next part will take a look into giant papillary conjunctivitis (GPC), keratoconus, and presbyopia.
How We Can Help
At Medical Arts and Eye Clinic and Optical, we care about your eyes. We want to provide you with the best eye care whether you’re just making the switch from glasses to contacts or you have an eye condition that requires more. Contact us to schedule a contact lens exam today.