If you have been diagnosed with a refractive eye error like near-sightedness, far-sightedness or astigmatism, you will undoubtedly be considering what your options are to correct your vision. While some patients opt for glasses, many will opt for contact lenses – either instead of or alongside their glasses.
What Are Contact Lenses?
Contact lenses are thin, curved lenses that are placed onto into the eye where they sit flat against the eyeball, covering the cornea completely. They work in exactly the same way as the lenses in prescription glasses – by altering the direction of light rays so that light is focused properly on to the retina rather than in front of or behind it. Your prescription is unique to you and will be applied to the contact lens meaning that your vision is corrected the moment that your contact lens is placed into your eye.
What The Lenses Used in Contacts So Much Thinner Than Those Used in Eyeglasses?
This is a very common question. Primarily, contact lenses are significantly thinner than those in glasses because the lenses rest directly on the eye. It would be impossible and impractical for someone to wear much thicker lenses as it would interfere with the comfort and use of the eye. However, because they sit directly on the eye, the optic zone of contact lenses (which is the central part of the lens that contains the corrective power to enable you to see clearly) can be made much smaller.
Finally, it is important to bear in mind that if glasses were made with lenses the thickness of contacts, they would break extremely easily. In fact, modern eyeglass lenses must have a minimum center thickness of 1.0mm to meet impact resistance guidelines.
Types of Contact Lenses
It surprises many people who are new to prescription eyewear solutions to discover that not all contact lenses are the same. Modern contact lenses are available as either rigid or soft lenses, enabling you to choose which you prefer.
Soft contact lenses
Soft contact lenses are the most popular choice for several reasons including comfort, flexibility, and breathability, the latter which makes it possible for wearers to use their contacts for long periods of time without experiencing dry eyes and associated symptoms. Soft contact lenses are available as daily disposable lenses, weekly disposable lenses, monthly disposables, and extended wear. Disposable lenses tend to be preferred by busy people who don’t want the hassle of a cleaning and maintenance routines, or those that only want to wear lenses occasionally. They can also be good for patients with allergies that there is less time for allergens to accumulate on the surface of the lens and cause irritation.
Extended wear lenses will also need to be replaced but can be worn for up to 30 days at a time. This is because they are made from a revolutionary material called silicone hydrogel which allows as much as 5 times more oxygen to reach the surface of the eyes.
Rigid contact lenses
Also called gas-permeable contact lenses, these more conventional lenses are still considered to be very comfortable to wear. However, unlike soft lenses, their rigidity means that they are more durable and long-lasting. They can be worn daily but must be cleaned and maintained properly. Rigid lenses can be made for virtually prescription, and people with astigmatism tend to prefer them since they already have an irregularly shaped cornea and these lenses are firmer and unyielding.
Multifocal contact lenses
If you have more than one prescription for your eyes, you may think that contact lenses aren’t an option for you. Fortunately, you would be wrong. There are some types of contact lenses, known as multifocal, that have been designed to correct the visual issue of presbyopia – long-sightedness caused by the loss of elasticity of the lens of the eye, which typically occurs in patients who are middle-aged and older. They blend the various prescriptions you need together to allow your eyes the ability to focus on objects at a variety of distances without the need to change lenses or wear glasses.
Some patients who have an irregular shaped cornea or other similar issues may have previously been told that contact lenses were not a suitable option for them. However, Scleral contact lenses have been developed with the intention of covering the entire corneal surface to functionally replace the irregular cornea with a smooth, optical surface. In doing so, scleral lenses can correct vision problems that have been caused by corneal irregularities and keratoconus – a progressive eye disease in which the cornea begins to thin and bulge into a shape resembling a cone.
If you have further questions about contact lenses, or if you would like to discover which contact lenses might be right for you, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our experienced team at Eye Site Vision Center in Lighthouse Point FL at (954) 943-3779, or Coral Springs FL at (954) 451-0400.