There are a lot of different types of contact lenses. While this means there is likely a variety that fits your needs, it can also mean choosing between different options. Fortunately, the Santa Barbara Eyecare team is here to help with their professional recommendation. Below we’ve outlined the most common types of contact lenses.
Soft contact lenses are as their name suggests – a contact lens that is made of soft, flexible plastic. This type of lens allows oxygen to pass through them and reach the domed surface of the eye, called the cornea. This helps to make them one of the most comfortable types of contacts for many patients. However, they can be trickier to handle. Within soft contact lenses, there are several varieties that are differentiated by the length of time for which they are worn.
Daily contact lenses are disposable contacts that are discarded after each wear. This has a number of benefits, primarily that the wearer doesn’t have to spend time going through a rigorous cleaning routine at the end of each day. They don’t require you to purchase a cleaning solution and you simply open the next packet and pop in your new lenses the following day. They are particularly good for patients with allergies since the short frequency of wear means that there’s less time for allergens to build upon the surface of the lens and cause irritation. They are also a great option for people who only want to wear contact lenses occasionally.
Also known as two-weekly disposables or weekly wear lenses, these are worn daily for two weeks, before being replaced with a new pair. This means that they do require special care to keep them clean, and you’ll need to buy contact lens solution and store them properly while you sleep. However, they are less expensive than dailies.
Unsurprisingly, monthly soft lenses are worn for a month before being replaced. They too need to be cleaned overnight every night, but they are one of the most affordable options when it comes to regularly wearing soft contact lenses.
Standard soft contact lenses aren’t right for every patient. In fact, plenty of people suffer from eye conditions and abnormalities that make it impossible to wear conventional contacts. If you fall into this category, you may be recommended to wear specialty contact lenses. This is the term used to describe a number of different types of alternative style contact lenses that have been proven to be particularly effective for certain patients, including those who have conditions like presbyopia, astigmatism, dry eye, keratoconus, and more.
Also known as RGP lenses, these have actually been around for longer than soft contact lenses and are still popular among patients with specific eye conditions. They are able to be made to fit most prescriptions and their increased rigidity makes them easier to handle and more stable on the eye, offering patients greater clarity of vision. They are also hardier and longer-lasting, being worn daily for anywhere from 6 to 12 months before needing to be replaced. However, they do need to be cleaned overnight using contact lens solution.
RGP lenses are usually recommended for people who have astigmatism, as the rigidity of the lens helps to keep the cornea in a more normal shape, and for wearers of soft contact lenses who find that their vision isn’t as sharp as they would like.
Scleral contact lenses have a very unique design in that they don’t make contact with the cornea and instead vault over it, with the only contact between the lens and eye being on the white part of the eye – the sclera, which is what gives this type of contact lens their name. There are different sizes of scleral lenses available, but all are larger than conventional soft contacts. Despite their size, they are comfortable and very stable on the eye which helps to give the patient exceptional visual clarity. The vaulted space beneath them acts as a tear reservoir, keeping fluid on the surface of the eye and making them a great choice for patients with dry eye. This space is also sufficient to allow room for any corneal abnormalities, such as the cone-like bulge that characterizes the condition known as keratoconus.
Hybrid lenses are actually a combination of regular soft contacts and RGP lenses. They have a soft skirt, which gives patients the benefit of comfort when on the eye, but the more rigid center helps to stabilize the lens on the eye, ensuring superior vision. Their gas-permeable nature also helps oxygen to flow through them and keep the surface of the eye comfortable. Hybrid lenses can be created to address a range of refractive eye errors at once, such as presbyopia and astigmatism, or conditions like keratoconus or corneal transplants.
To find out more about the different types of contact lenses available, or to schedule a consultation to see which contact lenses may be best for you, please contact Santa Barbara Eyecare at (805) 967-9990 today.