Types of Contact Lenses

Contact lenses are medical devices prescribed based on your individual eyes. Many different contact lenses are available. The lenses differ in material, diameter, curvature, and other parameters.

Soft vs. Rigid Lenses

Soft contact lenses are also known as hydrogel or hydrophilic lenses. These lenses are very flexible and are often the most comfortable lens to be worn initially. While very safe to use, these lenses are often disposable to decrease risks of complications, such as infection.

Rigid gas permeable contacts are stiffer lenses and require an adaptation period for best comfort. For some prescriptions, these lenses offer crisper vision and excellent oxygen permeability.

Daily Wear vs. Extended Wear

Daily wear contact lenses are worn during the day and are removed at night for cleaning and disinfection. This is typically the healthiest mode of contact lens wear.

Extended wear contact lenses can be worn for prolonged periods of time or while sleeping. Typically, prolonged wear of contacts or sleeping in contacts reduces the amount of oxygen and tears that reach the cornea. This can result in eye infections, swelling, and abnormal vessel growth.

Contact Lens Wearing Styles

Conventional contact lenses are lenses that need to be replaced only every 8-12 months. These lenses are frequently selected for difficult prescriptions. They need to be meticulously cleaned and disinfected daily.

Planned replacement contact lenses are replaced on a planned schedule that can be anywhere from once a week to every 6 months. These lenses need to be removed and disinfected each day prior to sleeping.

Disposable contact lenses are thrown away after each use. Although lenses that are thrown away after 2 weeks or 1 month are often referred to as 'disposable' lenses, a true disposable lens is only kept for one day. These lenses significantly decrease the chances of contamination by bacteria or other dangerous microbes. Additionally, these lenses are exceptionally convenient for occasional use or for people with active lives.

Specialty Contact Lenses

Research in contact lens use for specific eye conditions has been extensive over the years. New technology has resulted in the development of advanced types of lenses, addressing many visual problems. The Contact Lens Service at Mass. Eye and Ear is able to assess and prescribe contact lenses for all the specialty uses below.

  • Contact Lenses for Astigmatism
  • Bifocal Contact Lenses
  • Color Enhancing Contact Lenses
  • Contact Lenses for Dry Eyes
  • Contact Lenses for Color Deficient Patients
  • Prosthetic Contact Lenses
  • Post-Surgical and Post-Trauma Contact Lenses
  • Specialty Lenses for Keratoconus and Corneal Irregularities

Common Misconceptions about Contact Lenses

Rigid gas permeable contact lenses are outdated.
The truth is, gas permeable lenses are often the lenses of choice for best vision and eye health.

Disposable contact lenses can be worn until they feel uncomfortable.
The truth is that disposable contact lenses should be replaced as prescribed. By replacing lenses, contact lens deposits are reduced. This, in turn, decreases the incidence of serious eye infections and inflammatory reactions.

Complications of Contact Lens Wear

Contact lenses are quite safe when fit properly and taken care of properly. However, complications can occur. Therefore, an annual examination is necessary to catch and prevent any potential complications of lens wear.