It’s estimated that 45 million people wear contact lenses in the United States alone. Many people prefer contacts because they don’t alter their appearance, and they don’t get in the way of activities, such as showering or sports. Regardless of why you choose contacts, it’s important to understand the different options. Soft and hard lenses provide different experiences and require different care.
At Harlem VistaSite Eye Care, in the Harlem neighborhood of New York City, Brittni Rodriguez, OD, and Sarah Quan, OD, can perform a comprehensive eye exam and help determine which type of contact lenses (soft or hard) are right for you.
Types of contact lenses
There are many types of contact lenses, but they can all be placed into two categories: soft lenses and hard lenses.
Soft lenses are the most common type of contact lenses. It’s estimated that 90% of people who wear contacts use soft lenses. Soft contacts are made of a thin, flexible plastic that absorbs water. Your eye keeps the lens hydrated, and the watery lens allows oxygen to pass through to your cornea. The high water content can make soft lenses more comfortable than hard lenses.
If you’ve never worn contacts before, it’s recommended that you try soft lenses first. They are easy to put in, and your eyes should adjust to them quickly. Soft lenses are disposable, which means you’ll need to replace them on a schedule. You might have daily lenses that you throw away each night, weekly replacements, or monthly replacements.
Many people prefer soft lenses because they’re easy to wear, can combat dry eyes, and can be replaced easily. However, soft lenses do come with some drawbacks. Since they’re so absorbent, they can soak up smoke, bacteria, and chemicals easily. So you’ll need to clean, rinse, and replace your soft lenses often.
Hard contacts, or rigid lenses, are made from silicone. This means they’re stiffer than soft contacts, and you need to wear them every day until you get used to them. Fewer people use hard lenses, but they have their benefits.
If you suffer from severe astigmatism or nearsightedness, rigid lenses may correct these issues more effectively. Furthermore, they can provide a sharper, crisper image than soft contacts, and they can protect your eyes from bacteria and airborne toxins. Hard lenses are also durable and easy to care for, and you don’t need to replace them as often.
Deciding which is best for you
As mentioned earlier, most people choose soft lenses. However, if you have severe vision problems, you can discuss whether hard lenses are right for you.
And since you might have trouble adjusting to hard contacts if you’ve never worn them before, your optometrist might recommend using soft lenses for a little while before switching to rigid lenses.
At Harlem VistaSite Eye Care, we offer many types of contacts, along with comprehensive eye exams and advice. To get the eye care you need, book an appointment online or over the phone with Harlem VistaSite Eye Care today.