Choosing the Right Contact Lenses

Choosing the Right Contact Lenses

Contact lenses have come a long way over the decades. Improvements in technology have significantly improved comfort and convenience for contact lens wearers, but with so many options available it can be difficult to know which lenses are right for you. In this blog, we’ll discuss the many types of contact lenses available today so that you can work with your doctor to find the best product for your needs. 

Contact Lens Materials:

Hard

Rigid Gas Permeable(RGP)

RGP contact lenses are the most common type of hard lens. These lenses are typically used to treat conditions such as astigmatism and keratoconus, because their harder shape is more effective at providing clear vision when the cornea is misshapen. They are also used in a type of myopia treatment called Ortho-Keratology, in which a specially designed RGP lens is used to temporarily flatten the cornea. RGP lenses typically last for a year and are worn during the day and stored in a cleaning solution at night. They tend to be less comfortable than soft lenses and may take longer to get used to, so they are not commonly prescribed for general vision correction.

Soft

Hydrogel

First introduced in the 1970’s, hydrogel contacts are an older type of soft plastic lens. These lenses quickly gained popularity due to their increased comfort over RGP’s, however they are not as effective as other materials at transmitting oxygen to the cornea. Without sufficient oxygen transmission, hypoxia occurs, which can lead to corneal damage. Many of the contact lenses found online are made from this older material.

Silicone Hydrogel

Silicone Hydrogel lenses were introduced to combat the poor oxygen transmission in hydrogel lenses. Like traditional hydrogel lenses, these lenses are extremely comfortable due to their high water content, but the addition of silicone makes them more breathable, and safer for your eyes. These lenses are produced by a number of manufacturers, and are available in a variety of modalities. According to Contact Lens Spectrum, silicone hydrogels made up 70% of contacts fit by eye doctors in 2020. 

Wear Time

Monthly

There are several brands of contact lenses designed for up to 30 days of use. These lenses are usually worn during the day and stored in a disinfecting solution at night, however there are some lenses with FDA approval for up to 30 days of consecutive wear.

Bi Weekly

Bi-weekly lenses are usually worn during the day for up to 14 days. There are some bi-weekly lenses that can also be worn for up to 7 consecutive days.

Daily Disposable

Daily disposable lenses are worn for one day and then disposed of. These lenses are the most commonly prescribed contact lenses on the market, due to their ease of use. Because these lenses do not need to be stored or disinfected, they may also decrease your risk of eye infection.

Extended Wear

Extended wear contacts are designed to be worn for an extended period of time, and are approved for use both during the day and at night, though most eye doctors still recommend removing them before sleeping. These lenses are usually worn between 7 and 30 days. 

Vision Type

Toric Contacts

Toric contact lenses correct astigmatism, which occurs when the cornea is not spherical (round), causing light to be focused on more than one point of the retina. In order to do this, toric lenses must fit on the eye in a very specific position. These lenses are designed with a special shape and features that prevent them from moving around on the eye, so that they focus light exactly where it is necessary. Toric contact lenses can be more complicated than spherical lenses, and it may take more than one try to find the right fit. These lenses are available in a variety of options, including RGP, soft, daily, and extended wear. 

Bifocal and Multifocal Contacts

Like multifocal eyeglass lenses, these contacts allow the wearer to view images both far away and up close. They are designed to correct presbyopia, a condition which occurs when the clear lens of the eye loses its elasticity, causing near images to appear blurry. These contact lenses are available in 2 designs: 

Simultaneous Vision: Simultaneous Vision Designs attempt to provide seamless vision from distance to near. They do this by designating specific parts of the lens to distance, intermediate, and near correction. There are 2 types of simultaneous vision multifocal lenses:

Graphic of a concentric contact lens

  • Concentric: Concentric designs use concentric circles of varying power surrounding a central circle of distance or near viewing power. As the wearer looks at images of various distances, the pupil will line up with the appropriate ring in the lens, thus bringing the image into focus. 

 

Graphic of an aspheric contact lens

      • Aspheric: Aspheric lens designs are very similar to concentric designs, however the change in power is more gradual, with power transitioning smoothly from the center of the lens to the edge. As with concentric lenses, the viewing position determines the distance of the image that comes into focus.

 

 

Segmented Vision: Similar to bifocal lenses in glasses, segmented contact lenses have 2 distinct viewing zones, one for distance and one for near. These are only available in RGP designs.

Graphic of a segmented vision contact lens

 

Colored Contacts

Colored contact lenses are available with and without prescription in a variety of tints and densities. If you wish to enhance or change your eye color, talk to your doctor about colored contact lenses at your fitting exam. Note that it is necessary to have a prescription for colored contacts, even those that don’t have any power in the lenses, so you should never purchase colored contacts from anyone other than a qualified eye care provider. 

Costume Contacts

Like colored contacts, costume contacts are only safe if they are prescribed by an eye doctor. Around Halloween, eye doctors frequently see patients for eye injuries due to illegally sold costume contact lenses, and these lenses can lead to serious eye damage if worn even one time. If you want to complete a cosplay or Halloween costume, talk to your eye doctor about special order costume lenses, which will be made and fitted correctly for your eyes. 

Specialty Contacts

In addition to contacts used for correcting eyesight, there are specialty lenses available to correct abnormalities or injuries. These lenses include:

  • Bandage or Therapeutic lenses: These lenses are used to aid in the healing process after an eye injury such as a corneal abrasion. 
  • Prosthetic lenses: These lenses may be used to correct an abnormality or disfigurement of the iris or pupil. They may also help to improve visual symptoms such as glare or photophobia (light sensitivity), usually as a result of injury or surgery. 
  • Scleral lenses: Scleral contact lenses are much larger than a traditional lens. These lenses rest on the sclera, or white of the eye, and create a reservoir of liquid between the lens and the cornea. Scleral lenses are often used in the treatment of keratoconus, and may also be used to treat dry eye disease.  

Additional Tips:

  • Contact lens prescriptions are usually good for 1 year. You may need a new contact lens fitting annually to determine the correct fit as your eyes change. 
  • Contact lenses can sometimes lead to dry eye. Consider purchasing artificial tears that are made for use with contacts, as these will minimize blurriness while using. 
  • Many eye doctors recommend hydrogen peroxide-based lens cleaner. This cleaner is very effective at disinfecting lenses, but requires a special case and a minimum of 6 hours, so the hydrogen peroxide has time to neutralize. If you do not wait long enough, the solution may burn your eyes.
  • Always have a usable pair of glasses as a backup, even if you do not plan to wear them. There are many situations where you may not be able to wear your contacts, such as eye injury, infection, or surgery. Having a backup pair of glasses ensures that you will still be able to see while you recover. 
  • Like medication, contact lenses can only be ordered as prescribed. Let your doctor know at the time of your fitting if you would like more than one lens option, such as clear contacts and colored contacts, or single vision and multifocal lenses. In most cases they can fit and prescribe both lenses at the same visit, and you can fill the prescriptions as you like. 

With so many contact lens options available, it is important to talk with your eye doctor about your expectations and preferences, to ensure you get the best options for your needs. To schedule a contact lens exam, call or text (907) 328-2920. You can now order contact lenses on our website with a valid prescription! Visit https://secure.yourlens.com/mountainvieweyes/ to order today!

Written by:

Gina Stafford COA, LDO, ABOC

Posted in: Contact Lenses

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