A Guide to Contact Lenses
Contact lenses a.k.a “contacts” are typically used as corrective eyewear in place of eyeglasses. Contacts must be prescribed by an ECP (Eye Care Professional) who must first access the visual needs of the patient as well as the individual's eye structure and lubrication capacity (tear drops).
Though most contacts are worn to correct myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness) or astigmatism, there are also contacts available to enhance or change the color of the eye with or without a prescription for visual correction. Theatrical contacts are also available to give the eye an appearance that matches a theatrical costume like a cat or zombie.
Contact Lens Types
- Hard Lenses: Made from PMMA, which is plexiglass or lucite, these lenses are almost never used anymore but may be preferred or required by the patient.
- Soft Lenses: The most commonly prescribed contact lens are these gel-like containing plastics the size of the iris of the eye. More recently, the silicone hydrogel lenses have been introduced and are generally preferred by practitioners since they allow more oxygen to pass between the lens and the eye and are less likely to dry out.
- GP or RGP Lenses: These are “oxygen permeable” lenses that are stiff, waterless plastics geared toward patients with presbyopia and a high astigmatism and a smaller than the iris of the eye.
Contact Lens Wear
Those who wear contacts may choose whether or not they prefer daily wear or extended wear lenses.
- Daily Wear contacts can be worn throughout the day but must be removed and cleaned nightly. Daily wear contact lenses come in different durations of wear time and must be eventually disposed of and replaced with a fresh pair. There are contacts that are disposed of daily, weekly or monthly depending on the preference as well as the visual needs of the patient.
- Extended Wear contacts can be safely worn overnight or up to 7 consecutive days without removal. Continuous wear lenses are a type of extended wear that can be worn for up to 30 consecutive nights without removal.
There are also contact options available for more severe eye diseases and may need to be custom made to fit and serve the purpose of a special needs situation. Almost anyone these days can wear contacts, in fact 1 out of 5 people in the U.S. is a contact lens wearer. Whether the purpose for contact lens wear is a replacement to glasses or for more aesthetic purposes there is bound to be a healthy contact option available for everyone.