Home Health How many types of contact lenses are there?

How many types of contact lenses are there?

contact lenses

Though the size of the eyewear market, in terms of providers and brands, is ever-expanding it’s worth noting that when it comes to the ‘types’ of contact lenses to choose from, effectively the range can be split into two distinct categories.

Contact lenses can be most easily split between ‘soft’ and ‘hard’ but it’s fair to say that the size and variety of options then expands considerably when you delve deep into each of these to initial options.

Soft Lenses

By far the most common ‘type’, soft contact lenses are made from soft, flexible plastic and this means that oxygen can more easily pass between the user’s eyes. These are replaceable on a daily basis but there are versions that can be used for a more prolonged period.

There are many benefits to wearing soft lenses, the main one being that it doesn’t take long for you to get used to their presence. They are pretty sturdy and won’t come loose and dislodge easily. 

Water content is a key component of contact lenses and in basic terms the more water content the more air can pass through to your eyes. On the plus side this means they are comfortable to wear but they are more fragile than hard lenses and can therefore be damaged when you are handling them.

They are ideal for those who play sports but do not provide the same level of vision correction as hard or multifocal contact lenses.

Hard Lenses

These are less commonly used and are sometimes termed ‘RPG’ lenses, short for rigid gas permeable, and are far more capable of withstanding any daily interaction you have with them.

These are more durable than soft lenses and user’s report sharper vision when wearing them. RPG lenses are also more adaptable and tend to help with a wider variety of vision issues that you might suffer from.

They are, on the whole, more cost-effective than soft lenses, but they take longer to get used to and an adjustment period should be taken into account by those who choose to opt for hard and not soft lenses.

RPG lenses are not quite so effective for those who may be doing strenuous exercise or other activities that might encumber their use. They are also more susceptible to the elements, grains of sand or dirt can more easily get under them, which can lead to irritation.

RPG lenses can come in a variety of types including Single Visions Lenses and Toric Lenses and these are particularly relevant to those who suffer very specific concerns such as presbyopia and astigmatism

Multifocal Lenses

There is an additional option, a relatively new one for many, and that comes in the shape of multifocal lenses. These can help with a wide range of vision issues, both for those with near and distance vision problems. Commonly the centre of these cover the normal vision prescription and the outer ring assists with near vision. 

Though multifocal lenses help with very specific needs it should be noted that they tend to be significantly more expensive than other types and there is a considerable adjustment period, even when compared to hard lenses.

A major benefit comes from the fact that these lenses are adaptable to your needs but a significant negative is that they are not universally usable and may not be relevant for your specific vision issues and you should speak to your optometrist before going down this path.

Contact Lens Market Continues to Grow

The contact lens market has shown signs of significant growth in recent years and is believed to be worth in excess of $10 billion in the US alone. The technology is expanding, be it smart lenses or unique colors. The associated costs are fairly high but when it comes to the cost to individuals, that has remained fairly stable and this is due, in part, to a competitive market with many different players.

As the market increases, almost to saturation point, you should look to do as much research as possible as to the quality and cost-effective nature of all the key brands. One way to do so is to purchase via trusted suppliers and sites, as an example we’d suggest you shop here to find a selection of the best brands in the business.

When it comes to selecting what type of contact lenses you should use, clearly your first port of call is to discuss with a professional. Discuss with your trusted optometrist and once you are aware of which type would work for you, then shop with confidence to find the best option available to you.

Shopping online will help get you a better deal and will access certain brands and models that may not be available in your main street optician.