If you need or are thinking about getting contacts, you might be wondering what the best type is for you? Daily contact lens, weekly, monthly? While there are certainly some special features out there that can be used to help contacts correct specific vision problems, most can be divided into either hard or soft contacts.
The good news is that your eye doctor can help you choose the best type of contact to correct your vision and maintain good eye health.
What Are Soft Contacts?
Right off the bat, soft contact lenses tend to be easy to apply and are relatively comfortable to wear all day. Most people with soft contacts note how they tend to stay in place. If they do happen to slip a little bit out of place, they also tend to be a little easier to adjust compared to hard contact lenses.
This is due in part to soft contact lenses being made out of a special type of flexible plastic that’s combined with water to make them gas permeable. This allows oxygen to flow through the contact lens to the cornea, which improves comfort while also helping to maintain good eye health.
Most soft contact lenses can be worn for several days, then they are discarded. This can increase the long-term cost of using contacts as you will inevitably need to purchase replacement contact lenses. This isn’t the case with most hard contact lenses.
What Are Soft Contacts Most Often Used For?
For many patients, soft contact lenses are used to correct nearsightedness (Myopia) or farsightedness (Hyperopia). They can also be the first place to start for correcting blurred vision, the age-related loss of close-up vision, or cases of astigmatism.
It’s also worth bearing in mind that soft contact lenses aren’t the best option for correcting some vision problems like significant astigmatism and some specific vision abnormalities.
What Are The Disadvantages Of Soft Contact Lenses
Soft contact lenses might be a little more comfortable and easier to adjust on the eyeball, and if your lenses get stuck behind the eye, you can easily get them out, though they still do come with a few disadvantages. Some people who have experience with both types of contacts will note that their vision isn’t quite as sharp with soft contacts as they are with hard contacts. They also aren’t the best option to correct every vision or eye health problem.
Of course, you also have to consider the long-term cost of soft contacts compared to hard contact lenses. It’s rare for a pair of soft contact lenses to comfortably last more than a week. This means you will inevitably need to replace them more often and at a recurring cost, which can impact your budget. On the average, an annual supply of soft contact lenses will cost between $220 to $260 per year.
Tips To Maximize The Comfort & Lifespan Of Your Soft Contact Lenses
There are a few things you can do to help maintain your soft contact lenses, and ensure that they feel as comfortable as possible when worn on your eyes. This starts with making sure to wash and dry your hands before putting the soft contacts in and taking them out to reduce the risk of hand-borne contaminants and bacteria affecting the contacts. You also need to make sure to take care of the soft contact case and let it dry thoroughly.
It also helps to clean, rinse and disinfect your soft contact lenses after every use. You should also make sure to use the correct eye drops to refresh your eyes when needed as well as using the proper soft contact solution when storing them.
What Are Hard Contact Lenses?
As the name implies, “Hard Contact Lenses” are more rigid than soft contact lenses. They are the original type of contact lenses, though they have evolved a lot over the last four decades to become far more comfortable and in some cases more gas permeable than the hard contact lenses of the 1970s and 1980s.
Modern-day hard contact lenses are rigid as well as semi-gas permeable, which makes them more flexible while also allowing a modest amount of oxygen to pass through the lens to the cornea. Though they still aren’t as flexible or as gas permeable as contact lenses, they still do a better job of maintaining their shape while residing on the eye.
They tend to be more durable, and often easy to care for, handle and wear. They also do a good job of sharpening vision and helping an individual enjoy crisp detail.
What Are Hard Contact Lenses Used For?
Hard contact lenses are often called up to help correct refractive errors, for conditions like significant astigmatism. They also tend to help slow down the development of nearsightedness in young adults.
What Are The Disadvantages Of Hard Contact Lenses?
For all their durability and their ability to provide crisp vision, there are some minor disadvantages to hard contact lenses. If they are mishandled, hard contact lenses can be vulnerable to scratches, which can be an issue over time. Some people also complain that it takes a few days or weeks for your eyes to get accustomed to them. If you stop wearing hard contact lenses for a few days, your eyes might need to get used to them.
Choosing Between Hard Or Soft Contact Lenses
Your eye doctor can help you understand whether hard or soft contacts are best for you. This includes considering key factors such as lifestyle, budget, and personal preference, as well as the degree of vision correction. It’s not uncommon for someone to start out with soft contact lenses and then later decide to switch to hard contact lenses or vice versa.
It is important to note that you might start out with hard or soft contacts as your first set of contacts, but it might change as the years go by as your vision starts to change with age. Though making the switch to hard contacts from soft or from soft contacts to hard isn’t always easy.
When switching from soft to hard contacts, you might need to give your eye 5 to 10 days to fully get used to wearing the more rigid lenses. Then it’s important to use them routinely so that your eyes will stay accustomed to the way the hard contact sits on the eyeball.