February 23, 2016 Eye Associates

The Three Main Types of Contact Lenses

Contact lenses are a fantastic vision correction option for people of all ages – and the proof is in the numbers. According to data provided by The American Optometric Association, over 30 million Americans wear contact lenses with over two-thirds being female.

Contact lens usage is also increasing due to recent technical advances in lens technology that have made contact lenses more comfortable than ever. Even people who have had problems wearing contacts in the past often are good candidates for contact lenses today.

If you are considering contact lenses, this article is for you. We provide you some basic information about the three main categories of contact lenses so that you will be better informed when consulting with your eye doctor. For the very latest, most accurate information, visit an Eye Associates office for a comprehensive contact lens evaluation to see which lenses might be best for you.

Contact Lens Categories

There are three main categories of contact lenses you need to be aware of:

  1. soft contact lenses
  2. rigid gas permeable contact lenses and
  3. hybrid contact lenses

Soft Lenses

Also called hydrogel or silicone hydrogel lenses, soft contact lenses are very thin, moist and made of water-absorbing materials that give them a gel-like feel. Roughly 50% of the weight of a soft lens is due to the water it contains, making them extremely comfortable and super easy for you to wear.

Soft lenses are hands down the most popular type of contact lens. Approximately 90 percent of contact lenses worn in the U.S. are soft lenses. Most of these are silicone hydrogel lenses, which transmit more oxygen to the surface of the eye than conventional hydrogel lenses.

Rigid Gas Permeable Lenses

These contacts, also called GP contact lenses, are made of rigid plastics and often provide sharper, more stable vision than soft lenses. GP contact lenses provide more oxygen to the surface of the eye than many soft lenses, decreasing the risk of certain contact lens-related eye problems. GP lenses generally have a smaller diameter than soft lenses, making them fit closer to your eye.

However, their rigid nature and thicker profile can take time getting used to, and some people cannot wear the lenses comfortably. For these reasons, less than 10 percent of contact lenses worn in the U.S. are rigid gas permeable lenses.

Hybrid Lenses

Hybrid contact lenses combine the above two contact lens types together. Hybrid contacts have a center made of a rigid gas permeable plastic, surrounded by a soft lens material. This hybrid design combines the sharp optics of a GP contact lens with the comfort of soft lenses.

However, hybrid contact lenses are more expensive than either soft or GP lenses and fitting can be more challenging and time-consuming. For these reasons, less than 5 percent of contact lens wearers in the U.S. wear hybrid lenses.

Learn More

Do contacts sound like a viable option to you? Visit an Eye Associates office today and get a comprehensive contact lens evaluation exam.

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