The Different Types of Contact Lenses

 

There are so many options for people nowadays when it comes to contact lenses. A variety of different materials, designs and fittings mean lenses are available to help correct many vision defects. Users are able to choose between a variety of lens types, including extended wear contacts and daily disposables. In this article we’re going to review the major contact lens groups.

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Rigid gas-permeable contact lenses

Gas-permeable contact lenses are rigid lenses. They may take some time to get used to and may not be as instantly comfortable as soft contact lenses. However, they do have other benefits. Notably their durability, which is due to the firm plastic material they are made from.

Soft contact lenses

As you may have guessed by the name, soft contact lenses are a softer, more flexible alternative to RGP lenses. They still allow oxygen to pass through to the cornea and can be considered more comfortable and easier to adjust to, in comparison with RGP lenses. This makes them the most commonly fitted lens. More recent soft contacts feature silicone-hydrogels in order to help provide more oxygen to the eye during wear.

Soft contacts cover the whole of the iris, cornea and the majority of the sclera, making them significantly larger than RGP lenses. Similar to a sponge, soft lenses incorporate water and need to be left in contact lens solution when they are not being used in order to help prevent them from drying out.

Soft contacts can’t boast the same durability as RGP lenses, and need replacing. Replacement frequency varies and is dependent on the lens material and design. Lenses should be replaced as recommended by your optometrist or medical practitioner[1]. However, they do come in a wider variety of materials, fittings and designs, making them a suitable solution to help correct different types of vision defects.

  • Monthly contact lenses are favoured by some because they can be worn for a period of time without removal. Always check the instructions for your particular product. Other lenses may not be approved for such usage because they would deprive the cornea of oxygen.
  • Daily contact lenses are a popular alternative. As daily contact lenses are discarded at the end of each day, it eliminates the risk of bacteria building up on them and transferring over to your eye. Also, using daily lenses means you don’t need to purchase lens solutions to disinfect them after use.

Potential problems associated with wearing contact lenses

As handy as they are, contact lenses aren’t quite everybody’s cup of tea. Here are a couple of complaints due to contact lens wear.

Dry eyes

Unfortunately, contact lens wear is a well-known cause of dry eye syndrome, so much so that dry eyes are a common complaint amongst contact lens wearers[2]. Dryness usually occurs when the tear gland produces an insufficient amount of tears to lubricate the eye or tears evaporate too quickly.

The tear film is naturally spread across the surface of the eye by the insides of the eyelids when you blink, but contact lenses put up a barrier between the eyelid and the eye. Lenses can increase the evaporation of moisture from the eye. Consequently, the surface of the eye has a reduced moisture level, which can result in redness and soreness.

The condition can become self-sustaining. Dry eye syndrome can make contact lenses feel uncomfortable, while the evaporation of moisture from contact lens use can worsen the symptoms of dry eye.

Infected eyes

There can be a broad range of causes of infection – including bacterial and viral infections – and contact lenses can worsen the situation. Improper care of contact lenses can cause a build-up of bacteria on the lens, which is then transferred over to the eye upon application, resulting in irritation and potentially infection. Indeed, this is a common cause of infective conjunctivitis.

If you suffer from eye irritation whilst wearing contact lenses, you are advised to avoid wearing them until you have some clarity over the source of the problem. It could be an indicator of a serious eye infection such as keratitis.

Avoiding and treating dry and irritated eyes

Avoiding dry eyes is relatively simple. Contact lenses can cause dry eye symptoms, so you may need to regulate how often you wear them. Taking lenses off when it isn’t absolutely necessary to wear them gives your eyes a chance to replenish and moisturise themselves.

As mentioned, eye irritation when wearing contact lenses may point towards improper care. You can minimise your risk by ensuring that your lenses are suitably sterilised after every use. If the problem persists, your optometrist may suggest changing over to another form of contact lens material.

However, there are numerous solutions available if you are suffering. Lubricating eye drops – otherwise known as artificial tears – can be applied to relieve dryness. Similarly, eye drops are available that treat infection. Eye spray which fights dryness and irritation is also available. You should always read the instructions on pack to check if the product is suitable for use with contact lenses.

Alternatively, applying a cool, clean compress over the eyes for a few minutes at regular intervals throughout the day can help to alleviate symptoms such as dryness and soreness.

To read about how Optrex Actimist Eye Spray can relieve symptoms of dry eye of contact lens wearers, or to view the whole Optrex eye care range, please by use this link.

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