Which contact lenses are right for you?
There are a variety of factors that can determine which type of lens is right for you. When choosing contact lenses, consider the following:
- Your vision problems – your contact lenses must address the form of vision correction you require, such as myopia (short-sightedness), hyperopia (long-sightedness), astigmatism or presbyopia
- The lens must fit your eye, so make sure whichever lens brand you choose has the right combination of diameter and curvature to fit your eye
- If you have dry eyes, this might influence the type of contact lens you wear and which lens material you choose; for example, a soft contact lens made from silicone hydrogel
- Whether you want coloured lenses
- Your lifestyle and which wearing time will best accommodate this
Soft contact lenses
Soft contact lenses are the most worn by contact lens wearers in the UK. These contact lenses are considered extremely comfortable, flexible and breathable, making them suitable for long hours of wear. Made from the latest optical technology, they feature an adaptable design which makes them a compatible choice for most.
Soft contact lenses are an excellent choice for anyone who wishes to switch between glasses and contact lenses regularly. They offer more freedom than gas permeable lenses as they cater to a variety of wearing patterns. You can purchase soft contact lenses in the following categories:
- Daily disposables
- Two weekly disposables
- Monthly disposables
- Extended wear
Daily contact lenses
Daily contact lenses are lenses that are worn once and then thrown away at the end of each day. They are often referred to as dailies and don’t require a lens care routine, making them perfect for:
- People with busy and active lifestyles
- Occasional use, such as when playing sports
- Those with allergies – soft daily wear lenses are a more hygienic wearing option as they are worn for less time, which prevents dirt and allergens from building up on the surface and causing irritation
Two weekly contact lenses
Two weekly contact lenses are worn daily for two weeks before being disposed of. They require cleaning and storing in contact lens solution overnight. A popular lens solution often used with soft contact lenses is a multi-purpose solution. However, it's always best to check with your optician as they will recommend the best contact lens solution for you, especially if you're wearing silicone hydrogel contact lenses. Two weekly disposable lenses are an excellent choice for:
- Someone who wants a more hygienic lens wear option than monthlies
- Those with dry eyes who want a more cost-effective option than dailies
Monthly contact lenses
Monthly contact lenses are similar to two weekly lenses in that they require cleaning and storing in solution overnight. The same lens is worn for a month before being discarded and replaced with a new pair. They are a great choice for the following:
- Those who wish to wear their lenses every day
- A cost-effective lens wearing option as they work out cheaper than dailies
Extended wear contact lenses
Extended wear contact lenses are lenses that can be worn continuously, usually no longer than 30 days at a time. You can sleep in these contact lenses, too; however, you should avoid showering in them.
The silicone hydrogel material from which extended contact lenses are made allows up to 5 times more oxygen to reach the eyes surface, making these contact lenses very breathable.
Extended wear contact lenses are incredibly low maintenance and are specially designed for:
- People with busy lifestyles who are always on the go
- Those who don’t want the hassle of a lens care routine
Gas permeable contact lenses
Gas permeable contact lenses, also known as RGP lenses (rigid gas permeable lenses), are another option if you’re looking to wear contact lenses. These contact lenses have been around for longer than soft contact lenses and are still a popular choice for those who are harder to fit with soft lenses. They can be made to fit various eye types and prescriptions and offer more durability and a longer wearing period than soft contact lenses. They are usually worn daily and replaced every 6-12 months.
Gas permeable contact lenses might be a good choice for:
- People with astigmatism who require a more rigid fitted lens
- Those with eye conditions causing an irregularly shaped eye
- Anyone who isn’t getting sharp enough vision from soft contact lenses
Coloured contact lenses
Coloured contact lenses are soft contact lenses that can be worn as daily disposable or monthlies. They are available in a range of colours and feature various effects to change or enhance your eye colour.
Coloured contact lenses can be purchased as ‘plano’ lenses for cosmetic use or with a prescription. However, you’ll find it difficult to find coloured contact lenses to correct prescriptions with astigmatism or presbyopia.
Other contact lens features to consider
Spherical contact lenses – these feature the same lens power throughout the entire lens to correct short-sightedness or long-sightedness.
Toric contact lenses - these lenses correct astigmatism by featuring different powers in different meridians.
Multifocal contact lenses - the lenses correct presbyopia by containing different power zones for near and far vision.
Contact lenses with UV blocker - some contact lenses are designed to protect your eyes from the sun's harmful UV rays and feature UVA and UVB blocker. These contact lenses can help to prevent cataracts and other eye-related problems. Nevertheless, you should still make sure you wear UV-blocking sunglasses when outdoors, as contacts don’t cover your entire eye area.
Contact lenses for dry eyes – some soft contact lenses are specifically designed to reduce the risk of contact lens-related dry eye. For example, 1 Day Acuvue Moist by Johnson & Johnson features Lacreon technology to provide long-lasting moisture and comfort for dry eyes.