Some Basics About Contact Lenses – Types, Materials, Designs & Color

We all are aware of Contact Lenses whether to get baby blues or golden tiger eyes or to use for vision problems, they have become an excellent choice for all of us who needs them. For those people who need vision correction but doesn’t like to wear eyeglasses all the time, Contact Lenses remain the most effective and nearly invisible tool to help them. The thin plastic lens properly fits the cornea (clear, front part of the eye) and corrects various vision problems such as nearsightedness, farsightedness, etc. Contacts have become popular among people and according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 17% of U.S. adult population wear Contact Lenses while many children at the age 12 or even younger begin wearing Contacts.         

In today’s article, we give you some basics about Contact Lenses that you should know before seeing the ophthalmologist if you are going to wear them:

What are the types of Contact Lenses?

The material of Contact Lens should fulfill the needs of the patient and there are five types of Contact Lenses according to the material with which they are made of, these include:

  • Soft Lenses:

Soft lenses are the most comfortable type of lenses that are made from gel-like, a water-containing plastics called as hydrogels. These lenses are thin, flexible and easily fit to the front surface of the eye. They are initially introduced in the early 1970s and since then they are widely used by the people because they can immediately become comfortable than PMMA lenses (see below) that are hard and take the time to adapt.

  • Silicone Hydrogel Lenses:

Silicone Hydrogel Contact Lenses were introduced in 2002 and they are an advanced type of soft Contact Lenses. They have become the most popular type of Contact Lenses in the United States. Silicone hydrogel lenses are more permeable than soft lenses and it means they allow more oxygen to pass through it while reaching to the cornea.

  • Gas Permeable Lenses:

Gas permeable lenses are also called as GP or RGP lenses that were introduced in 1978 and since then they had replaced the nonporous PMMA Contact Lenses. The GP lenses are rigid same as PMMA lenses but they are permeable and allow gas to pass through them. As GP lenses are porous, they can easily fit the eye which makes them more comfortable than traditional hard lenses. The feature of sharper optics of GP lenses gives them an added advantage over soft and silicone hydrogel lenses.

  • Hybrid Contact Lenses:

Hybrid Contact Lenses are designed to provide wearing comfort to the patient as it combines the material of soft or silicone hydrogel lenses and crystal-clear optics of the gas permeable lenses. The central zone of hybrid lenses is rigid gas permeable and the surrounding skirt is made of silicone hydrogel lens material. In spite of these features, Hybrid Contact Lenses are worn by a small percentage of people in the United States, possibly because these lenses are difficult to fit and are expensive as compared to soft and silicone hydrogel Contact Lenses.

  • PMMA Lenses:

The material used in the manufacturing of PMMA lenses is polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA) that is a transparent rigid plastic and it is also used as a substitute for glass in manufacturing shatterproof windows. Although PMMA lenses have the best optics, they didn’t pass oxygen to the eye and so can be hard to adapt to. Due to this reason, they have become conventional, old-fashioned lenses while replacing the GP lenses and are rarely prescribed to the patients today.

Statistics of using each type of Contact Lenses in the United States in 2016:

The most popular type of Contact Lenses used in the United States in 2016 is Silicone Hydrogel Contact Lenses, accounting for 67% of usage. Soft Contact Lenses are used by 20% of the population while GP lenses account for 10% usage and hybrid lenses account for 2% usage. PMMA lenses are very rarely used, accounting for less than 1% usage.

Below are some other types of Contact Lenses:

  • Bifocal Contact Lenses for Astigmatism: These lenses are advanced soft contacts that are used to correct astigmatism and presbyopia.
  • Contact Lenses for Dry Eyes: Some types of lenses may cause the symptoms of dry eyes so a special type of soft Contact Lenses is made that can reduce the symptoms of dry eyes caused by contacts.
  • Colored lenses: Many of different types of Contact Lenses which are described above also come in various colors. These colored lenses can enhance the natural color of the eyes and can also completely change the entire color of the eyes.
  • Special-effect lenses: These lenses also called as theatrical lenses or costume lenses that enhance the feature of colored lenses and give your eyes a look same as that of a cat or vampire or tiger etc.
  • UV-inhibiting lenses: Several soft Contact Lenses protect the eyes from ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun that can cause eye conditions such as cataract and other problems.

What are designs of Contact Lenses available?

There are many designs of contacts that are available to correct different types of vision problems. Below listed lenses are rarely used because they are specifically designed for treating special eye conditions or situations while many other additional designs of lenses are also available.

  • Spherical Contact Lenses:

These lenses are rounded in shape, used to correct nearsightedness and farsightedness.

  • Bifocal Contact Lenses:

These lenses contain various zones for near vision and far vision for correcting Presbyopia, an eye condition in which you are unable to focus at all distances.

  • Orthokeratology lenses:

These lenses are particularly designed to reshape the cornea during sleep and give a lens-free day to the patient.

  • Toric Contact Lenses:

These lenses are used to correct astigmatism (an eye condition involving blurry or distorted vision), myopia (nearsightedness) and hyperopia (farsightedness). 

Consult ophthalmologists at Menger Eye Centers to find the right type of contact lens:

If you have been diagnosed with a vision problem or your eyesight is nearsighted or farsighted then board-certified ophthalmologists and optometrists at Menger Eye Centers provide you complete prescription and help to determine the best type of Contact Lens for you. They also guide and educate you about the appropriate use of Contact Lenses so that you can prevent yourself from eye problems caused by the wrong use of Contacts.

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