Types of Contact Lenses

At the Family Vision Clinic, our goal is fit people who want contact lens when it is healthy and appropriate for their vision needs and lifestyle. Many of our patients have been surprised that they could do so well in contact lenses. We carry the following quality brands:
Alcon, Bausch & Lomb, Vistakon (AcuVue), CooperVision and Hydrogel (Extreme H2O)

Millions of people wear contact lenses to help them see clearly. There have been many advancements in lens materials and designs over the years. Each year there are typically 6 to 8 new types of contact lenses that are released. For example, there are now photochromic (Transitions) contact lenses that darker when you go outside and lighten when you come inside. There are new designs to slow down myopia progression in older children. There are also multifocal designs to help people over 40 with significant astigmatism see fairly well at distance, intermediate and near without always reaching for readers. If you have tried contacts in the past, but stopped due to discomfort or poor quality, it may be time to try again. Dr. Clavadetscher will help select the best option for your eyes! We have a variety of options for your specific type of prescription correction, tear production, lifestyle, and more. Contact us at The Family Vision Clinic to learn more.

Soft Contact Lenses

Soft contacts are the most common type of contact lenses and account for over 85% of contact lenses dispensed. Traditional soft contact lenses consist of soft plastic polymers and water. They allow oxygen to permeate through the lens material to the cornea. Most people find soft contact lenses comfortable. One advantage of soft contacts is that people adapt to them quickly. Soft lenses come in different prescriptions and designs depending on your budget and need. For some prescriptions, they do not offer the same visual acuity as gas permeable lenses or glasses. Dr. Clavadetscher will help you determine which design is best for you.

Daily Disposable or “1-Day” Contact Lenses

Disposable contact lenses are soft lenses that are discarded on a daily, weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly basis. With regular replacement, protein deposits do not build up. Deposits can affect vision, comfort, and the health of the eyes. These lenses are convenient and low-maintenance compared to traditional soft lenses. It is important to replace disposable contacts as suggested to avoid eye infection. Disposable lenses are available in most prescriptions.

Tinted or Cosmetic Contact Lenses

Tinted contact lenses are soft lenses that enable some patients to change the apparent color of their iris by masking it with a new color on the contact lens. These lenses are available in interesting colors and patterns. They can provide a subtle or dramatic change in the appearance of your eyes. They are not available for all prescriptions and are not suggested for everyday wear.

Rigid Gas Permeable Lenses

Rigid Gas Permeable (RGP), or just Gas Permeable (GP) lenses are sometimes mistaken for old-fashioned lenses. The old hard contact lenses that people know are rarely used today. RGP lenses are more pliable, more comfortable, and they allow oxygen to the cornea. Gas permeable lenses also allow more oxygen to the cornea than traditional soft contact lenses. They do not change their shape when you blink or move your eyes because they are rigid. This means they offer sharper vision than soft contacts. They are much more durable than soft lenses. Because they do not contain water, proteins and lipids do not adhere to them like they can do with soft lenses. RGP lenses also come in many bifocal and multifocal designs.

The biggest disadvantage of RGP lenses is that patients need to get used to them. They are not immediately comfortable like soft lenses. RGP lenses take three to four days for patients to adapt to them. They need to be worn regularly (although not every day) to achieve optimal comfort. They are smaller in size so they can dislodge from the eye more easily than soft lenses.

Toric Contact Lenses

Standard contact lenses can often mask small amounts of astigmatism without more specialized lenses. However, for significant amounts of astigmatism, best vision is often achieved with a toric (astigmatism correcting) lens. Just like glasses, astigmatism can be corrected by putting more power in one direction of the contact lens than in another direction. Part of the technology of toric lenses is to stabilize this power in the correct direction for that person’s astigmatism. In the newest types of toric lenses, this achieved by several design features which allow the lenses to align and center correctly on the eye.

Multifocal Contact Lenses and Monovision

As people get older, problems with focusing at near increase for people with good vision at distance whether that good distance vision is achieved without glasses or contacts or with them. Some people just stop wearing contact lenses and switch to progressive (multifocal) glasses, or they may just wear reading glasses over their contact lenses. For some people, this works fine. However, some people still want to do much of their near, intermediate and far work while only wearing contact lenses just as they did when they were younger. For those people, there are a couple of options that have worked for millions of people around the world.

One simple option is monovision. With these lenses, one eye is used for distance and the other eye has reduced distance power which then helps with near or reading vision. Patients need to adapt to using one eye, depending on which distance they are viewing. For already successful contact lens wearers, this often means that they can use the same type and brand that they are already using and only the power is modified.

Another, increasingly popular method to solve the near-far problem is multifocal contact lenses. Multifocal contact lenses, like multifocal glasses (progressives), have more than one power. This allows an individual to have fairly clear vision at near and far distances and a variety of distances in between. These lenses are available in both soft and gas-permeable designs. Designs for these types of lenses have been improving rapidly over the last several years, so the success rate has been going up markedly. Note that both of these contact lens modalities require more time from the doctor for fitting.

Extended Wear Contact Lenses

The term “Extended wear” is an older term for contact lenses that are gas-permeable or soft lenses and allow some people up to 30 days of continuous wear. Most people cannot do this. They offer the convenience of not having to take them out at night, but there are risks. Sleeping in them poses about a ten times higher risk of infection, corneal ulcers, and abnormal blood vessel growth in the cornea and other temporary or permanent changes to the eye. Moreover, once the eye has been seriously compromised by over-wearing the contacts, it may never recover back to its previous ability to wear contacts during the day. Some doctors who have seen this damage will not prescribe extended wear lenses for these reasons. These lenses need more frequent follow-ups to detect hidden problems, such as neovascularization of the cornea.

There are now more choices for contact lenses than ever before. While some individuals wear contact lenses without trouble, others have to try different types to find their perfect pair. Call our office today to schedule an appointment!