Contact Questions: A Quick Breakdown of Contact Lens Options

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If you are ready to make the change from eyeglasses to contact lenses, you have a wide variety of options. Review the different types of lenses and then discuss with your doctor which contacts will best fit your individual needs. Here’s a quick breakdown of different types of contact lenses available to you.

Contact Lens

RGP Lenses

The earliest contacts were rigid gas permeable (RGP) lenses. These lenses are, as their name suggests, rigid: almost like a piece of thin glass. They are more durable than soft lenses, but require more maintenance: debris can easily get under the lens, and the wearers must remove the lenses before bed. Doctors recommend RGP lenses to full-time contact lens wearers.

Soft Contact Lenses

Soft contact lenses are typically larger and flimsier than RGP lenses. This makes them easier for the eye to adjust to. Doctors recommend them for both full- and part-time contact lens wearers. These lenses come in a variety of different options—including lens that the wearer can leave in overnight.

Extended Wear Contact Lenses

Extended wear contact lenses are one of the soft contact options that can be worn overnight. They are made of plastics that allow oxygen to pass through the lens and reach the cornea. How long you can wear the lenses before replacing them depends on the specific brand you buy as well as your doctor’s recommendations.

Disposable Contact Lenses

All soft contact lenses are meant to be thrown away after a certain period of time, but disposable contact lenses are meant to be worn once and then disposed of. These contacts are also known as “replacement schedule contact lenses.” They are perfect for contact wearers who find it more convenient to open a new pair of contacts every morning instead of taking out their contacts every night and soaking them in solution.

Specialized Used Contact Lenses

Two types of contacts that do more than compensate for blurry vision include orthokeratology lenses and color contacts.

Orthokeratology

Orthokeratology (Ortho-k lenses) uses RGP contact lenses designed to actually change the shape of your cornea. While other contacts are meant to compensate for near or farsightedness, orthokeratology is meant to physically fix the issue. The fix is not permanent, as the cornea will return to its original shape a short time after the contact is absent.

The idea is that users put the contacts in every night while they sleep, and take them out in the morning. They are then able to enjoy perfect vision all day, or at least until the effects wear off. If you decide to try ortho-k lenses, your optometrist will determine the best maintenance schedule for you and your eyes.

Color Contacts

Color contacts come as both prescription and non-prescription lenses. Anyone can use these contacts to change their eye color for everyday purposes, but they are typically worn by people in costume in theatrical productions or entertainment media. Since some color contacts come with a vision-correcting prescription, you can get them from an eye doctor like those at Crowfoot Vision Centre, an optometry office in Calgary.

Bifocal/Multifocal Contacts

If you think you can’t use contacts because you rely heavily on your bifocal glasses, think again. Contact lens technology is advanced enough to provide contact lenses that correct both near and farsightedness. Contacts can do this in one of three ways:

  • Translating Design. Nearsightedness correction sits on the top half of the lens, and farsightedness on the bottom. The contact is shaped slightly differently—with a flat bottom—to keep it from rotating around in your eye.
  • Cocentric Design. Cocentric bifocal lenses have rings. The middle is nearsightedness correction, surrounded by a ring of farsightedness correction, surrounded by a ring of nearsightedness correction, and so on—or vice versa.
  • Aspheric Design. This lens uses a gradient with farsightedness correction in the center, fading to nearsightedness around the outside—or vice versa.

Your vision is an essential part of your life, so the choice of contacts lenses you use is an important one. Get recommendations from your optometrist, and try out a few different pairs of contacts before making a final decision. Once you find the right pair, you will be able to ditch your glasses for good.


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