According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology more than 36 million Americans wear contact lenses. There are many different types of contacts including rigid gas permeable lenses, soft lenses and hybrid lenses. Soft contacts are far and away the most common. Among these are daily wear, extended wear, toric lenses which correct astigmatism, and bifocal lenses. Contacts also change or enhance eye color.
After a comprehensive eye examination and a discussion of your requirements, we can make appropriate recommendations as to the type of lenses to fulfill your needs. Contact lenses are a medical device and should be treated with care. They need special care, cleaning and regular follow up visits to ensure that the eyes remain healthy. You should never use another person’s contact lenses or buy non-prescription contact lenses.
Contact lenses are designed to correct your myopia, hyperopia, or astigmatism without the need for glasses. Around 20% of people who need vision correction in the United States wear contacts. As long as they are worn safely, contacts can be a convenient alternative to glasses. However, patients should be aware of the risks of contact lenses, including contact lens overwear syndrome (OWS).
Types of Contact Lenses
Contact lenses are classified by material. Below are the four main types of contact lenses:
- Soft lenses – Made from hydrogels (a gel-like plastic that contains water), soft lenses cover the entire cornea and transmit the most oxygen to the eye.
- GP lenses – Also known as “oxygen permeable” lenses, GP lenses are made from more rigid plastics and do not contain water. They are usually prescribed for high astigmatism and presbyopia, since they can provide sharper vision than soft lenses.
- Hard lenses – Made of a rigid plastic called PMMA, hard lenses do not transmit oxygen to your eyes. Hard lenses have been mostly replaced by GP lenses for safety reasons.
- Hybrid lenses – A hybrid lens has an optical center that is made of GP lens material, but is surrounded by soft lens material for greater comfort.
The most popular type of contact lens in America is the silicone hydrogel lens, which transmits the most oxygen to the eye.
Contact Lens Care
Properly caring for your contact lenses can help you avoid dangerous eye infections. Before handling your contacts, always thoroughly wash and dry your hands to ensure you do not transfer germs and dirt to the surface of the lens. Avoid using moisturizing soaps on your hands.
Clean your lenses one at a time with the recommended solution. This helps remove debris, including cosmetics and eye-produced buildup. Even if you are using a “no-rub” product, the FDA recommends always rubbing the lens in the palm of your clean hand with a few drops of solution to ensure all debris is removed.
Rinse the lens to remove any loosened debris. Be sure you rinse for as long as your directions tell you to. This is an important step. Once finished, place your lens in the clean lens case and fill the holder with fresh solution. Never “top off” your old solution.
If you are having problems with your contact lenses – or if you want to find out how you can eliminate your dependence on contacts with LASIK – please contact Doctors For Visual Freedom at 312-291-9680 today to schedule an initial consultation with experienced Chicago eye doctor Mark Golden. We serve patients in the Chicago and Arlington Heights areas of Illinois.
Learn More about Contact Lenses
Click on any link below to explore the different types of contact lenses out there and how they can be used to treat various eye conditions.