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Contact Lenses

More details on different types of contact lenses and what to do with contacts during the allergy season are below.

Choosing contact lenses

Thinking about swapping your glasses for contact lenses? Contact lenses offer more advantages than ever before. Specialized contact lenses can even treat certain eye conditions that go beyond impaired vision. Whatever your reason for exploring contact lenses, proper selection and maintenance can keep you seeing clearly.

Let’s begin by understanding the pros and cons of common types of contact lenses — and the ground rules for preventing dry eye and eye infections.

Soft contact lenses

These thin, jelly-like lenses offer comfort and stay in place well in conforming to the shape of your eye, so they’re great for sports and active lifestyle. Soft contact lenses can be used to correct a number of vision problems, including astigmatism, myopia (nearsightedness) and hyperopia (farsightedness).

Let’s look individually at each kind of soft contact lenses; single use, daily wear and extended wear.

Single Use

  • Pro: Individually packaged for one-day use, single use soft contacts are convenient and eliminate the need for cleaning.
  • Con: More expensive than other types of soft contact lenses.

Daily Wear

  • Pro: Designed to be worn daily, this variety of soft contact lens may be reused for a number of weeks, making them more economical than single use contact lenses.
  • Con: Requires daily cleaning and regular replacement to prevent protein buildup and other complications.

Extended Wear

  • Pro: Designed to be worn continuously, this product allows oxygen to reach your cornea even while you’re sleeping, so the lenses can be worn at least occasionally overnight.
  • Con: Continuous use also may allow the buildup of microorganisms on the lenses, increasing the risk of infection or other complications.

Hard Contact Lenses

Also known as rigid gas-permeable (RGP) lenses, hard contact lenses are smaller and more rigid than the soft variety. These attributes make them less comfortable than soft contact lenses, at least in the early stages of use. Hard contact lenses allow oxygen to the eyes, which makes them less a factor in the potential for corneal irritation. Gas-permeable lenses also generally more versatile in the correction of certain vision problems

  • Pro: Durable, greater breathability and easy maintenance, all with reduced risk of infection.
  • Con: May feel less comfortable than soft contact lenses and you may need time to readjust to the lenses if you cease use for a period of time. Hard contact lenses are also more likely to drift from the center of your eye, which could lead to discomfort.

Specialized Contact Lenses

Each variety of specialized contact lenses offers unique characteristics.

Hybrid contact lenses blend the best of soft and hard technologies in featuring a gas-permeable center coupled with a soft outer ring. Hybrid contact lenses may be an good choice if you have an irregular corneal curvature (keratoconus) or you have discomfort with gas-permeable lenses.

Bifocal contact lenses come in both daily wear soft and gas-permeable materials. They feature the same advantages as bifocal eyeglasses; one field of vision to correct distance vision and the other to correct near vision.

Monovision contact lenses are often used in cases of presbyopia. One lens employs your reading prescription and the other a distance prescription.

Preventing Dry Eye and Eye Infections

Because contact lenses limit the flow of oxygen to the corneas, contact lenses increase the risk of corneal infection.

To avoid dry eye and infections:

  • Practice good hygiene by thoroughly washing your hands before handling contacts
  • Minimize contact with water and remove your lenses when swimming or using a hot tub
  • Do not sleep overnight with your contacts in place. While extended wear varieties are designed for overnight use, continuous use may increase the risk of eye infections
  • Never put your lenses in your mouth to moisten them
  • Replace your contact lenses as recommended
  • Use eye drops if you experience occasional redness or itchiness

If your vision becomes blurry or you encounter such discomforts as eye pain or sensitivity to light, remove your contact lenses and consult a Malbar Vision Center doctor for prompt treatment.