Advancements in contact lens technology offer the potential of successful contact lens wear for most of our patients. A contact lens is a medical device that rests directly on your eye; therefore, it must fit appropriately to maintain good ocular health. A contact lens prescription can only be determined by the careful observation of the lens on the eye and the eye's response to the lens. Follow-up appointments are essential to confirm that the contact lenses fitting continues properly over time. It is your responsibility to keep all appointments and follow all lens care instructions. The optometrists at Albemarle Eye Center and Precision Eye Care will educate you on the wearing of contact lenses and their proper care. We will help you determine when your child can begin wearing contact lenses. This is often dependent on the maturity of the child and their ability to put contacts in and take them out as well as care for them. This is vital to keep the eyes healthy and reduce the risk of eye irritation and infection.
There are two major categories of contact lenses: Soft Contact Lenses and Rigid Gas Permeable (RGP) Contact Lenses. Within these two major categories there are a number of types of lenses for solving different vision problems.
Soft Daily Wear Contact Lenses
Soft daily wear contact lenses are made of soft water-containing, flexible plastics, called “hydrogels”, that allow oxygen to pass to the cornea to maintain its health and clarity. Because they are soft, thin and flexible, soft contact lenses are easier to adapt to and more comfortable than rigid gas permeable (RGP) contact lenses.
Another type of soft contact lens is made of a “silicone hydrogel” material that allows an even greater amount of oxygen to reach the cornea, adding additional safety. Soft daily wear contact lenses require careful cleaning and disinfection, as they tend to attract deposits of protein from your tear film.
Rigid Gas Permeable (RGP) Contact Lenses
Rigid gas permeable contact lenses also known as RGP lenses, are more durable and resistant to deposit buildup, and generally give a clearer, crisper vision. They tend to be less expensive over the life of the lens since they last longer than soft contact lenses. They are easier to handle and do not tear, however, they can break. It can take several weeks of adaptation in order to get used to wearing RGPs as compared to only a few days for soft contacts.
Contact Lenses for Astigmatism
People who have astigmatism usually have an asymmetrical curvature of the cornea making it oval shaped, like a football. Contact lenses that correct astigmatism are called “toric” lenses. Toric lenses are readily available in both soft contacts and rigid gas permeable contact lens prescriptions. Toric contact lenses require a greater degree of fitting expertise in order to obtain the most precise vision.
Disposable Contact Lenses
Today, most soft contact lenses are prescribed with a very specific replacement schedule. That is, the prescribing Albemarle Eye Center / Precision Eye Care optometrist will give you instructions on how frequently to replace your lenses based on your tear film, how often you may be removing the lenses and how quickly you soil the lenses, even after cleaning and disinfection. True “disposable” contact lenses are worn only once and then discarded.
Specialty Contact Lenses
At Albemarle Eye Center and Precision Eye Care, the vast majority of contact lenses prescribed fall into the categories as described above. There are some other types of contact lenses for some special purposes that you may wish to know about. Your optometrist will help determine the best lens for your specific needs.
Decorative, Cosmetic Contact Lenses
Another type contact lens that has become popular among people who don’t even need for vision correction are contacts that have the sole purpose of changing the appearance of your eyes. These are sometimes called “Plano” or “Non-Corrective” lenses. Wearers of these contact lenses can temporarily change the color of their eyes, and can even create different themes such as Halloween or characters like Dracula by modifying the eye’s appearance. Colored lenses are also available for those who do have contact lens prescriptions. Even these types of lenses require a contact lens fitting to determine the proper size and fit. It is important to not just order lenses online as eye injury and infection can occur.