Whether you already wear contact lenses or are considering them, it’s important to know about the types of lenses available and how to use them safely. Getting started right with your contact lenses involves going to an eye care professional, such as an optometrist or ophthalmologist. Here, you can gain a basic knowledge before your office visit.
Types of Contact Lenses
Soft contact lenses are the most popular choice for contact lens wearers. They’re comfortable and come in many versions depending on how you want to wear them. They are replaced on a daily, weekly or monthly basis.
Gas permeable (GP) contact lenses are more durable and resistant to deposit buildup. They may be the best choice when the cornea has enough astigmatism that a soft lens will not provide sharp vision, or when a person has eye allergies or tends to form protein deposits on his or her contacts.
Color contact lenses are contacts that change or enhance the appearance of your eye color and may also correct your vision. They are only available by prescription and should only be worn after an eye exam and fitting by a qualified eye care professional. Never wear color contact lenses without a prescription, as serious eye complications may occur without professional supervision. Serious eye health problems can occur as a result of sharing contact lenses.
The majority of soft contact lens wearers are prescribed some type of frequent replacement schedule by their eye care professional.
Daily disposable contact lenses are worn for a day and then thrown away; there’s no need for solutions to clean, disinfect and store them. Daily disposable contact lenses are a healthy option and one of the most trouble-free contact lens options, provided they’re worn only for a single use.
Bi-weekly/monthly replacement lenses are worn daily for up to a month and must be removed each night and cleaned, disinfected and stored using the contact lens solutions recommended by your eye care professional.
It’s important to follow the recommended lens wearing and replacement schedules prescribed by your eye care professional to avoid irritation, infection, and other risks.
Daily-wear lenses are removed nightly. Some daily wear lenses are worn once and thrown away (daily disposable lenses). Other daily wear lenses are removed every night for cleaning and disinfection and replaced at the end of a longer replacement schedule (for example, every two weeks or monthly).
Extended-wear lenses are worn overnight. You should talk to your eye care professional if you wear extended wear lenses about how many nights you can sleep in them. Some extended wear lenses are only approved to wear overnight for up to a week before they must be removed for cleaning and disinfecting, and some extended wear lenses can be worn every night for up to a month. However, extended wear lenses should only be worn overnight as prescribed by your eye care professional.
Contact Lens Designs
Spherical lenses are basic contact lenses typically used to correct myopia (nearsightedness) and hyperopia (farsightedness). They bend light evenly in every direction.
Toric lenses help correct for astigmatism in combination with nearsightedness or farsightedness. They come in both soft and gas permeable varieties.
Multifocal lenses are designed to correct presbyopia (age-related loss of near vision) in combination with nearsightedness and farsightedness. They come in both soft and gas permeable varieties.