Types of Contact Lenses (2023)

There are two general categories of contact lenses – soft and rigid gas permeable (RGP). All contact lenses require a valid prescription.

  • Soft Contact Lenses
  • Rigid Gas Permeable (RGP) Contact Lenses
  • Extended Wear Contact Lenses
  • Disposable (Replacement Schedule) Contact Lenses
  • Lens Comparison
  • Specialized Uses of Contact Lenses
Soft Contact Lenses

Soft contact lenses are made of soft, flexible plastics that allow oxygen to pass through to the cornea. Soft contact lenses may be easier to adjust to and are more comfortable than rigid gas permeable lenses. Newer soft lens materials include silicone-hydrogels to provide more oxygen to your eye while you wear your lenses.

(Video) TYPES OF SOFT CONTACT LENSES: modalities & materials of soft contacts

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Rigid Gas Permeable (RGP) Contact Lenses

Rigid gas permeable contact lenses (RGPs) 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 less likely to tear. However, they are not as comfortable initially as soft contacts and it may take a few weeks to get used to wearing RGPs, compared to several days for soft contacts.

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Extended Wear Contact Lenses

Extended wear contact lenses are available for overnight or continuous wear ranging from one to six nights or up to 30 days. Extended wear contact lenses are usually soft contact lenses. They are made of flexible plastics that allow oxygen to pass through to the cornea. There are also a very few rigid gas permeable lenses that are designed and approved for overnight wear. Length of continuous wear depends on lens type and your eye care professional’s evaluation of your tolerance for overnight wear. It’s important for the eyes to have a rest without lenses for at least one night following each scheduled removal.

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(Video) Monthly Contacts VS Daily - Which is better?

Disposable (Replacement Schedule) Contact Lenses

The majority of soft contact lens wearers are prescribed some type of frequent replacement schedule. “Disposable,” as defined by the FDA, means used once and discarded. With a true daily wear disposable schedule, a brand new pair of lenses is used each day.

Some soft contact lenses are referred to as “disposable” by contact lens sellers, but actually, they are for frequent/planned replacement. With extended wear lenses, the lenses may be worn continuously for the prescribed wearing period (for example, 7 days to 30 days) and then thrown away. When you remove your lenses, make sure to clean and disinfect them properly before reinserting.

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Lens Comparison

The American Optometric Association has more detailed information about contact lenses including a lens comparison chart.

Lens Comparison Chart
American Optometric Association

(Video) What are the different types of Contact Lenses? | Katzen Eye Group

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Specialized Uses of Contact lenses

Conventional contact lenses correct vision in the same way that glasses do, only they are in contact with the eye. Two types of lenses that serve a different purpose are orthokeratology lenses and decorative (plano) lenses.

Orthokeratology (Ortho-K)

Orthokeratology, or Ortho-K, is a lens fitting procedure that uses specially designed rigid gas permeable (RGP) contact lenses to change the curvature of the cornea to temporarily improve the eye’s ability to focus on objects. This procedure is primarily used for the correction of myopia (nearsightedness).

Overnight Ortho-K lenses are the most common type of Ortho-K. There are some Ortho-K lenses that are prescribed only for daytime wear. Overnight Ortho-K lenses are commonly prescribed to be worn while sleeping for at least eight hours each night. They are removed upon awakening and not worn during the day. Some people can go all day without their glasses or contact lenses. Others will find that their vision correction will wear off during the day.

(Video) Glasses vs Contacts - Which is Better?

The vision correction effect is temporary. If Ortho-K is discontinued, the corneas will return to their original curvature and the eye to its original amount of nearsightedness. Ortho-K lenses must continue to be worn every night or on some other prescribed maintenance schedule in order to maintain the treatment effect. Your eye care professional will determine the best maintenance schedule for you.

Currently, FDA requires that eye care professionals be trained and certified before using overnight Ortho-K lenses in their practice. You should ask your eye care professional about what lenses he or she is certified to fit if you are considering this procedure.

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Decorative (Plano) Contact Lenses

For more information, please see the Decorative Contact Lenses page.

(Video) Hard Contact Lenses Vs Soft - Which is Better?

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What are the 3 types of contact lenses? ›

  • Soft Contact Lenses. Soft contact lenses are made of soft, flexible plastics that allow oxygen to pass through to the cornea. ...
  • Rigid Gas Permeable (RGP) Contact Lenses. ...
  • Extended Wear Contact Lenses. ...
  • Disposable (Replacement Schedule) Contact Lenses.
Jan 16, 2018

What type of contact lenses are best to use? ›

If you want the sharpest vision possible, gas permeable contact lenses (also called RGP or GP lenses) usually are the best choice. Because they have a hard, polished surface, they typically have better optical qualities than soft contact lenses.

Are Ortho K lenses soft or hard? ›

Orthokeratology, or Ortho-K, uses specially designed hard contact lenses to change the shape of the cornea. This contact lens temporarily corrects vision and is mainly used in patients who are nearsighted. Ortho-K lenses are most often prescribed to be worn while sleeping.

Are monthly contacts hard or soft? ›

As monthlies are made with a harder composition, they are able to give better vision at higher magnifications. If you have a more complex correction, such as toric (astigmatism) or multifocal, then a monthly contact lens may be the only reliable way for you to enjoy sharp vision with lenses.

What is the most common type of 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.

What contact lens do most doctors recommend? ›

Meet the Experts
Quick Look:
Best Daily Contact Lenses -Acuvue Oasys 1-Day
Best Monthly Contact Lenses -Alcon TOTAL 30
Best Contact Lenses for Extended Wear -Air Optix Night & Day Aqua
Best Contact Lenses for Sensitive Eyes -Acuvue Oasys 1-Day
4 more rows
Mar 31, 2023

What kind of contacts are best for beginners? ›

When it comes to contact lenses for beginners or first time users, the top four for 2023 are:
  • Crystal Aqua Daily.
  • Focus Dailies All Day Comfort.
  • Crystal 1 Day.
  • 1 Day Acuvue Moist.

What type of contacts are the safest? ›

Rigid gas permeable (RGP) lenses.

These products are durable, resist deposit buildup, and generally allow for clear, crisp vision. They last longer than soft contacts, and also are easier to handle and less likely to tear.

What is the downside of Ortho-K? ›

Disadvantages of Ortho-K

The risk of corneal infection among ortho-k lens wearers is very low, but it doesn't hurt to be extra careful in order to avoid this kind of complication. Always observe good eye hygiene and lens care. Some patients experience eye sensitivity during the first few days of wearing ortho-k lenses.

What are the disadvantages of Ortho-K lenses? ›

As with all contact lenses, there is a small risk of side effects associated with the use of Ortho-K lenses. The most common side effects include corneal edema (or swelling) and corneal strain or stress. These side effects can occur for wearers of any type of rigid contact lenses, including Ortho-K.

What happens if you wear Ortho-K for too long? ›

Long-term ortho-k lens wear increases corneal toricity after discontinuation of the treatment, which is associated with an increase in refractive astigmatism. A more pronounced change in corneal toricity was found in subjects who were younger to start ortho-k and have been in a longer period of treatment.

Who Cannot wear soft contact lenses? ›

Possible Reasons You Can't Wear Contact Lenses
  • Dry Eye Disease. Dry eye disease, commonly known as dry eye, is a common reason someone cannot wear contact lenses or is limited in which ones they can wear. ...
  • Severe Eye Allergies. ...
  • Severe Refractive Error. ...
  • Contact Lens Intolerance. ...
  • Untreated Blepharitis.
Feb 10, 2023

Which contact lens is better for eyes? ›

Silicone hydrogel lenses are made of an advanced type of soft contact lens material that allows more oxygen to pass through the lens and reach the front surface of the eye. Silicone hydrogel contact lenses are now the most popular type of contact lenses.

How long can you wear soft contact lenses? ›

Most types of soft, disposable contact lenses can be worn for 12 to 16 hours at a time, but be sure to consult your optometrist on this question first. The number of recommended hours of wear can vary depending on the lens, manufacturer, and any eye conditions you have.

What is the downside of hard contacts? ›

One notable downside of RGP contacts is that their smaller size and inability to conform to the eye the way soft lenses do makes them more susceptible to particles, such as sand, getting under them and causing irritation. You can mitigate this risk by wearing wraparound sunglasses when near beaches or on windy days.

Are soft contacts harder to put in? ›

Soft contact lenses are extremely comfortable and easy to apply. This type of contact lens stays in place and is easier to adjust than hard contact lenses. Soft contact lenses are made out of a flexible plastic that is combined with water to allow oxygen to flow through the contact lens and to the cornea.

Why do monthly contacts get blurry? ›

Some of the possible causes of blurry vision while wearing contacts include a change in your prescription, deposits (like dirt) on the lens surface, dry eyes, allergies, infections, or other eye health problems.

Is it safer to wear glasses than contact lenses? ›

Almost all complications are due to poor hygiene and maintenance, but the fact remains that contact lenses do carry more risk than eyeglasses. Oversights in lens care can cause irritation, conjunctivitis, dry eye syndrome, and other uncomfortable eye problems.

Why can I see better with contacts than glasses? ›

They produce a more “natural” field of vision.

Because they sit on the surface of your eyes and move with them, contact lenses provide seamless vision correction. Their benefits extend to your peripheral vision and they won't have the same types of visual disruptions that glasses do, such as reflections or fogginess.

Are there contact lenses you can wear all the time? ›

Continuous wear contact lenses are ideal for people who wear contacts for a long time every day. They save the time and hassle of putting on and taking out the lenses, as well as cleaning and storing them every day.

How many hours can you wear contacts for the first time? ›

On your first day of contact lens use, try to wear them for about eight hours or as much as recommended by your doctor to give your eyes a chance to adapt. Use this time to make sure that your eyes are adjusting nicely to the contact lenses, and that no discomfort or irritation has occurred.

How many hours should you wear contacts at first? ›

DAY 1: Exciting! You can try on your new lenses, but wear them no longer than 2-4 HOURS. DAY 2: Experiment! If you are comfortable, try extending wearing time to 4-6 HOURS.

How do you blink out contacts? ›

Place two fingers on the upper and lower outer corner of your eyelids. Pull tightly, as if pulling your skin towards your ear. As you pull your skin, your eye should naturally close and blink shut. This will cause the contact lens to easily pop out of your eye.

How do I know what contacts to buy? ›

Here are some things to consider prior to your eye exam for contacts:
  1. How Often Will You Wear Contacts? ...
  2. How Picky Are You About The Sharpness Of Your Vision? ...
  3. Are You Willing To Care For Your Contacts Properly? ...
  4. Is Overnight Wear Important To You? ...
  5. Do You Want To Change Your Eye Color? ...
  6. Do You Wear Bifocals?
Jan 18, 2019

Which contact lens is best monthly or yearly? ›

Monthly contact lenses are eco-friendlier because you will be throwing out fewer lenses compared to dailies. You usually only use 12 pairs every year if you choose monthly contacts, resulting in less waste that ends up in landfills.

Why is Ortho-K so expensive? ›

Why Does Ortho-K Cost More Than Standard Lenses? The lenses are designed for your eyes only — and customized products always cost more. The extra time, personalized attention and high-quality material used to ensure a perfect fit all add to the cost.

Can you open your eyes while wearing Ortho-K? ›

Do not wear Ortho-K Lenses for any significant period of time with your eyes open. Let your doctor know about any pain or pain accompanied by sensitivity to light. Keep the Ortho-K Lenses case clean as directed.

Can you watch TV while wearing Ortho-K? ›

Yes, you can see while you are wearing your lenses. We recommend that you insert your Ortho-K lenses about 15 minutes prior to bedtime to allow them to settle in your eyes. You can watch TV with the lenses in, and if you woke up the middle of the night to go the bathroom you can still see.

Why are Ortho-K lenses not popular? ›

Several patients discontinued OrthoK lens use during the adaptation period. The reasons were mainly that the children could not tolerate contact lens discomfort.

How many hours can you wear Ortho-K? ›

With Ortho-K, you only wear them for a period of 7-8 hours maximum while under clean, home conditions.

What happens if you wear Ortho-K lenses during the day? ›

Can you wear ortho-k lenses during the day? Yes. Ortho-k contact lenses were first used as daytime contacts, so they can be safely used for that purpose. However, because orthokeratology lenses are reshaping the eye, they are not the most comfortable lenses and are typically better worn at night.

What is the most common complication of Ortho-K? ›

Potential complications significantly associated with OrthoK include MK, corneal staining, and lens binding. There are other clinically insignificant side effects such as epithelial pigment deposit and increasing visibility of fibrillary lines, and transient changes of corneal biomechanical properties.

What is the recommended age for Ortho-K? ›

There is no age limit for Ortho-K: children as young as six have been successfully and safely treated with Ortho-K lenses. As Ortho-K has been shown to reduce or halt the progression of myopia (short-sightedness), it is one of the most common methods of vision correction in teenagers and pre-teens in our practice.

Is Ortho-K more expensive? ›

Cost of Ortho-K vs.

Orthokeratology ranges from $600 to $1,200 per eye, although complex cases can cost $2,000 or more per eye. This cost does not include any additional costs for replacement lenses, follow-up doctor appointments and lens solution. LASIK costs about $1,500 to $2,500 per eye.

Who should not get contacts? ›

Eye allergies can be seasonal or perennial, and are often identified by symptoms such as itchiness, redness, tearing, swelling, or burning. Wearing contacts when you have allergies can often make your symptoms worse and can even cause your eyes more significant harm, like corneal damage or scarring.

Is it harder to wear contacts as you get older? ›

As you age, this lens becomes thicker, harder and less flexible. If you're over 40 and feel like you need to hold menus and newspapers further away to help your eyes focus, you probably have presbyopia.

What contact lenses for astigmatism? ›

What are Toric Contact Lenses? Toric contact lenses are used to correct astigmatism. They equal out the refractive error caused by an irregular shaped cornea or crystalline lens, which can distort and blur your vision. Toric contact lenses are available for daily, two weekly or monthly.

What are the side effects of wearing contacts? ›

Some of the possible serious hazards of wearing contact lenses are corneal ulcers, eye infections, and even blindness. Corneal ulcers are open sores in the outer layer of the cornea. They are usually caused by infections.

Can I shower with soft contacts? ›

Say It With Us: Nope. To recap: Contacts and water don't mix. When wearing contacts, keep them away from water to prevent discomfort, infection, and other eye issues. Even if you've showered with your lenses in before and didn't experience any problems, that still doesn't make it a good idea.

Can I take a nap with soft contacts? ›

The general rule is no; you should not nap or sleep with contact lenses. This applies to all contact lens brands and types, unless specified. Falling asleep with your contact lenses could lead to a risk of infection and irritation.

Can you rub your eyes with soft contacts? ›

Rubbing your eyes with the contact lens on has the possibility of damaging the cornea, which may further lead to vision impairment. To avoid any such instance, it becomes essential to avoid rubbing the eyes.

What is standard vs premium contact lenses? ›

The Standard contact lens fit applies to clear, soft, spherical (astigmatism less than . 75D), daily wear contact lenses for single vision prescriptions. It does not include extended/overnight wear. The Premium contact lens fit applies to more complex applications, including, but not limited to toric (astigmatism .

What is the difference between multifocal and progressive contact lenses? ›

Multifocal contact lenses give you added freedom over glasses and they allow you to be able to view any direction – up, down and to the sides – with similar vision. People wearing progressive lenses in glasses on the other hand have to look over their glasses if they want to view upwards or into the distance.

Are monthly or daily contacts better? ›

While daily contacts may be more suitable for some people, they're not “better” than monthly contacts. Sometimes they're seen as a safer choice because there's no day-to-day build-up of natural deposits, but again, that doesn't necessarily make them better.

Which contact lenses are easiest to use? ›

Soft contact lenses are generally more comfortable to wear. They are able to stay in place better and are easier to adjust to than hard contact lenses. The flexible plastic is combined with water to allow oxygen to pass through the contact lens to the cornea. This increases comfort and maintains eye health.

Are premium lenses worth it? ›

Selecting a premium cataract lens can provide you with sight closest to your natural eyesight. This is especially true when compared to traditional monofocal intraocular lenses. Premium IOLs allow you to participate in all activities without visual limitations.

Are expensive lenses better? ›

Cheaper lenses will give you the clarity of vision you require, but more expensive ones will give you a more distinctive pair of glasses, with personalized features. Customized features like lens color, anti-reflective coating, scratch-resistant, polarized, photochromic, etc. are the components of higher price.

Are more expensive progressive lenses better? ›

Conversely, higher-quality progressive lenses position the drop so that the wearer can look through it naturally, and reduce peripheral distortion by making the viewing area wider. These changes make the lenses more expensive, but result in far better comfort and vision quality.

What is the downside of multifocal lenses? ›

Disadvantages of Multifocal Lenses

While multifocal lenses improve near, far, and intermediate vision, many people still have difficulty seeing up close. Although they can see the computer screen, their vision is blurry when trying to read a book. However, this can be corrected with reading glasses.

What are the disadvantages of multifocal contact lenses? ›

Cons of Multifocal Contacts
  • More expensive than other presbyopia treatment.
  • Optical inconsistencies, such as nighttime glare or seeing shadows in low light conditions.
  • Visual contrast may be diminished.
  • Objects may appear higher or lower than they are in reality.
  • Reading glasses are also necessary sometimes.

Why can't I see distance with multifocal contacts? ›

One of the most frequently asked questions in the clinic is why multifocal contacts are blurry in the distance. There is a little give and take that happens with the physics of bending light here. Multifocals essentially take away a bit of your distance clarity to allow you to see well up close.

What's cheaper daily or monthly contacts? ›

Daily disposable contacts are more expensive than biweekly and monthly disposable contacts. (Read more about the difference between daily and monthly contacts.) Toric contacts for astigmatism are more expensive than spherical (non-toric) contacts for nearsightedness or farsightedness.

Is there a price difference between daily and monthly contacts? ›

If you want to compare monthly lenses with daily lenses, you will probably find that monthly lenses are cheaper on average. However, this can be misleading, as it depends on how you use them. If you wear your contact lenses every day, then yes, monthly lenses work out cheaper.

Why are daily contacts so expensive? ›

These lenses are superior in both the amount of oxygen they allow to your eyes, and long lasting comfort. The difference in the cost of a box of single use contact lenses is most dependent on the quality of the materials involved in production and R&D. Technological advancements are due to our investments.

What is the 3 1 1 rule for contacts? ›

Contact Lens Solution TSA Rules

As long as you follow the 3-1-1 rule* you will be ok with TSA. The container of liquid must be 3.4 ounces or less. Pack your liquids containers in 1 quart-sized clear zip-top bag. You get 1 bag per person to hold your liquids, aerosols, gels, creams and pastes.

Is there a better alternative to contacts? ›

Laser Surgery as a Contact Lens Alternative

Laser surgery corrects some of the common problems of vision such as nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism, and presbyopia.


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