If you’re brand new to contacts or thinking of switching over from glasses, the thought of putting tiny corrective lenses on your eyes might cause some apprehension. How do these almost invisible lenses even work? It’s pretty amazing stuff, and you should read our article on the history of contact lenses to see how far we’ve come. (Teaser: It used to involve submerging one’s head in a bowl of water.) 

But what may come as a surprise is there are actually many different kinds of contact lenses, and they fall under two main categories: hard and soft. To help you become familiar with the various types of contacts, we’ve made a little crash course. Check it out. 

Soft Contact Lenses 

These are the most popular lenses for consumers. Soft contact lenses are composed of a type of plastic and water which allow oxygen to reach the eye. They’re comfortable and come in several varieties, many of which are disposable for added convenience. These are some of the different types: 

  • Daily disposables are contacts you wear for one day only, then you can throw them away. This means you don’t have to clean them or risk dry eye or irritation from contact solutions. Your eye doctor may recommend this type of contacts to you if you have allergies. 
  • There are also other disposable-wear lenses that you can remove nightly and replace on a weekly, biweekly or monthly basis. Sometimes they can be expensive, but they’re convenient and can help with allergies or if you tend to form protein deposits on your lenses. 
  • Extended-wear lenses are worn overnight but must be removed at least weekly for a careful cleaning. Eye doctors are recommending them less frequently because wearing contacts overnight leads to a greater risk of corneal infection. 
  • There are also different types of colored soft contact lenses that can be used to change the color of your eyes, enhance your natural eye color, or even help you locate them if they’re dropped. Keep in mind that you should only use colored contacts that are available by prescription, not over-the-counter ones that are illegal and can cause serious eye damage.

Hard Contact Lenses 

The hard contact lenses most commonly used today are called RGP (rigid, gas-permeable lenses). They’re made of silicone or fluoropolymers which allow them to hold their shape. These contacts also permit oxygen to freely flow through the lenses to the cornea. Sometimes, RGP lenses are the preferred choice over soft lenses for correcting astigmatism in the cornea. They’re also helpful if you have allergies or tend to form protein deposits on your contacts. 

Bifocal or Multifocal Contact Lenses 

If you have trouble with both near and far vision, your optometrist may prescribe bifocals or multifocal lenses. These lenses can help correct myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness) and presbyopia, which is when your eye loses the ability to focus from far to near as you get older. Bifocal and multifocal lenses are available in both soft and hard lens types. 

Whether you switch to contacts or stick with eyeglasses, VSP Direct™ has your eye care needs covered. Starting as low as$17 a month, our vision plans can save you hundreds annually on vision expenses. Take a few minutes to compare plans to find the right vision plan or call 800.785.0699 to enroll in vision insurance today.

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