Types of Contact Lenses, Part 1: About Vision-correcting Contacts

Over the years, the classic choice between traditional eyeglasses and contacts for vision correction has evolved into an extensive mixture of options. Maybe a little overwhelming for the “untrained eye.” But with this new variety comes some great news: vision correction has never been more precise. With a little knowledge about today’s contacts, finding the perfect match for your eyes is easy. 

In general, contact lenses are made from soft and hard plastics. Both materials provide different advantages to you, depending on your specific vision needs. 

Daily wear

Typically fashioned from silicone hydrogels, or some other soft plastic, these lenses are comfortable, consistently stay in position and provide a great option if you lead a very active lifestyle. The newer materials allow oxygen to flow more readily to your eye’s surface for better comfort and eye health. 

Rigid gas permeable

RGPs are made from slightly more durable hard plastics. They provide you with crisper vision correction than soft lenses. They tend to correct more vision problems and cost less over time since they don’t tear or wear out as easily. The downside is they can be very uncomfortable to begin with and take multiple weeks to adjust to (compared to a few days for soft lenses). 

Extended wear

Continuous overnight wear contacts are approved by the FDA for many materials and lenses. Most are made from the very breathable soft plastics, but some rigid gas-permeable lenses are available as well. Your eye doctor will advise how many consecutive nights you can keep your contacts in, but this could range from 1 to 30 nights. Not all lenses are designed for overnight wear, so follow your prescribed instructions. 

Disposable (with replacement schedule)

Most contact lenses, regardless of purpose, are intended to be worn for an extended period. This helps save money but could increase your chance of infection if you’re sanitation routine is inconsistent. Disposable lenses are replaced at regular intervals to increase the health of your eyes and provide consistent vision correction. A replacement schedule might be every seven days, two weeks or longer.  

Whatever type of vision problem you’re experiencing, there’s sure to be a correction option right for you. Just be sure to consult with your eye doctor first. 

If you’re uncertain about your contacts or are experiencing any discomfort, use your VSP Individual Plan to schedule an appointment with your eye doctor today. If you don’t have vision insurance, find out how VSP can help you save on your next eye exam or pair of contact lenses.