Long, long ago hard lenses were the only contact lenses available. Once soft lenses became available, it was like a dream come true. They required less care and could be thrown away after a certain time period of wear. Now there are so many types of contact lenses, and you have the ability to choose by preferences and doctor recommendations. So many people, with all different types on prescriptions, are able to wear contact lenses with ease.
But how do you know which one is right for you? Below are the different types of contact lenses that are available, read up and ask your doctor about those types that catch your interest:
1. PMMA lenses, which are also called rigid or “hard” contact lenses were the first type ever made; developed in the 1960s. They are made from a plastic called polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA). These contacts are very durable, but their disadvantage lies in fact that they do not allow oxygen to reach the cornea directly. Oxygen gets to the cornea when you blink and the lens moves, which allows the oxygen dissolved in the tears to reach the cornea. Rigid lenses are also the least comfortable type of contacts. While they are low cost they are hardly used anymore. However, there are some patients who prefer them because of their durability.
2. Soft contact lenses are the most common of all lens types. They are made of plastic and other materials such as silicone, and also incorporate water. The water makes them soft and flexible, as well as allowing oxygen to reach the cornea. Soft contact lenses are used by the majority of the contact lens wearers in the United States. There are also different types of soft contacts such as:
- Daily disposable lenses that must be thrown away at the end of each day. These are more expensive, but carry a lower risk of infection.
- Toric lenses for astigmatism. These contacts are for those who do not have any other eye issue other than astigmatism. They are available in both rigid and soft materials.
- Extended wear contact lenses. These are made of materials designed to last 2-4 weeks. The risk of infection is higher and they do tend to be somewhat expensive.
3. Gas-permeable lenses are the newer version of the hard contact lenses that are made of silicone and other materials that allows the oxygen to directly reach the cornea. This reason alone is why they are called gas permeable.
There are so many advantages to using contact lenses. Contacts can open up a whole new world for those who choose to wear them. Are contact lenses right for you?