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Contact Lenses

What Are Contact Lenses?

A contact lens is a thin, curved, soft piece of plastic that is placed on the surface of your eye. Usually, a contact lens is clear however, there are cosmetic contact lenses that come in different colors and styles.  People that use contact lenses regularly, often set up an annual supply so they don't run out and are not constantly reordering replacement lenses. Contacts solve the same problems as prescription lenses for eyewear, but do it in a different way.Acuvue Contact Lenses

Contact lenses might seem like a modern invention. However, people have been wearing contact lenses for a lot longer than you might think. The original idea dates back to the work of Leonardo da Vinci and by the 19th century, a German glassblower produced a glass contact lens that could be worn for just a few hours. These days, you can wear some contact lenses for a week or even more depending on their design because they are lightweight and barely noticeable. 

Types Of Contact Lenses

There are various types of contact lenses that could be right for you and may be recommended by an eye doctor. Here are some of the common types.

Soft Contact Lenses

Soft contact lenses are made from soft materials such as flexible plastics. This ensures that more oxygen can pass through the cornea. Soft contact lenses are easier to adjust compared to alternatives and can be more comfortable for the wearer. They are commonly made from silicone-hydrogels. Soft contacts provide for a comfortable contact lens wear situation.  The soft lens provides vision correction according to your contact lens prescription for the contact lens wearer.

Rigid Gas Permeable Lenses Types of Contacts

This type of hard contact lens is more durable and resistant to issues with deposit build-up. They can offer a cleaner and more crisp vision. Since they are durable rigid gas permeable lenses (RGP lenses) are far less likely to tear. However, they may not be as comfortable as soft contact lens solutions and can take a while to get used to.

Extended Wear Lenses 

Extended-wear contact lenses can be suitable for anything up to thirty days and may be used overnight or continuously depending on what your eye doctor recommends. Since they are used frequently, they will commonly be soft lenses to ensure they remain comfortable. 

There are certain RGP lenses that are suitable for overnight use. However, these are less common. If you are using these contact lenses, it’s important to leave them out for one night after a scheduled removal. 

Disposable Contact Lenses 

Disposable lenses according to the FDA guideline means that the contact lens should be used once and then thrown away. You can order an annual supply of daily disposables to ensure that you always have them available to wear. 

Some contact lens sets marketed as disposable are actually for frequent use. As such, it’s important to ask your optometrist to recommend the right type for your individual prescription. 

Decorative Contact Lenses Decorative Contacts

Decorative contact lenses and colored contact lenses come in a wide range of designs. For instance, you can order contacts online that are designed to look spooky and will be perfect for Halloween. A colored contact also comes in a wide variety of unnatural colors that aren’t possible genetically. You can also get colored contacts that are a little more natural and simply make your eyes pop. Similar to other types of contact lens, decorative contact lenses are FDA approved and must be recommended by an eye care professional.

There are many, many contact lens brands like Air Optix colors, Acuvue Oasys, etc.

Toric Lenses

Toric contact lenses are designed with different optical power and focal length in two orientations perpendicular to each other.  Essentially, it is a combination of a spherical and cylindrical lens, and its purpose is to correct the vision problem of  astigmatism and also refractive error.

Scleral Lenses

The scleral lens is larger than a regular contact lens, and it rests on the sclera of the eye, whence it derives its name.  It creates a vault over the cornea and is designed to treat a variety of eye problems.


Monovision refers to the use of one contact lens in one eye to focus on distance vision and the other one for near vision.

Special Types Of Lenses 

As well as the standard solutions, there are also special types of lenses. These can also be ordered in an annual supply. 


These types of contacts will temporarily change the curve of the cornea while you are fast asleep. In doing this, they help to ensure that you have clear eyesight when you wake up. 

BifocalsEyeglass Lenses

Many people have completely different eye issues in both of their eyes. For instance, you could be long-sighted in one eye and short-sighted in the other. The good news is that if you have an issue like this, you can still get contact lenses on a prescription. Again, an issue like this will be revealed during an eye examination from your eye doctor.

Multifocal Contacts

Multifocal contact lenses are similar to multifocal eyeglass lenses, and are designed for patients that have a near and far vision correction.

What Vision Problems Can Contact Lenses Used For?

The eye contact lens can be suitable for most vision problems. Here are some of the reasons why you might need contact lenses. 

NearsightednessInstalling Contact Lenses

Also known as myopia, you can buy lenses that are designed to help with nearsightedness. This might mean that you have issues when you’re watching TV, staring at a screen, or reading a book. 


Contact lenses can also be used for distance. This may be necessary if you have a problem seeing details far away such as a license plate when you are driving your car on the road. 

Blurred Vision 

You can also buy contacts for blurred vision too. This is known as astigmatism. They can be used to correct issues where certain things look blurry either all the time or in particular situations. Your eye health professional will tell you whether contact lenses are suitable for your astigmatism. Issues with an astigmatism are quite common and can cause headaches if left untreated.

Age-Related Loss Of Vision

Your sight can and often will change as you age and this is why you might need to buy contact lenses with different prescriptions as you get older. The right contact solution can help ensure that your vision remains clear and at the right point, even as you get older. 

When Will You Not Be Able To Wear Contact Lenses?

There are several common reasons why you might not be able to wear contact lenses. An ophthalmologist or optometrist can verify whether these issues will impact you when you have an eye exam. 

Issues With Dry EyesPlacing Contacts

First, it’s possible that you have problems with dry eyes or dry eye disease. If this is the case, then you will have issues keeping your eyes lubricated. Dry eyes can cause your vision to suffer and may also cause redness or blurry vision. 

An optometrist or doctor can recommend treatment to improve this condition. However, it’s not always effective.


This condition will cause inflammation of your eyelids. It usually occurs because your oil glands are becoming clogged up. This condition will need to be treated before you can wear lenses including soft lenses. 

Eye Allergies 

If you have issues with seasonal or perennial eye issues, contact lenses may not be the right choice. Contacts may make your symptoms worse, even over a limited period and you should speak to a doctor if this occurs.

Unique Prescriptions 

It’s also possible that you have a unique prescription. This will be determined by your optometrist. If that’s the case then you may need a special type of treatment to correct the problem. Contact lenses are designed to cover all issues and you can get a special type of contact lens. However, in some cases, they may not provide the same quality of vision as the alternative. Varilux Progressive Lenses

Issues With Contact Lens Solutions 

While contact lenses do provide a lot of benefits, they can also cause certain issues. For instance, certain types of lens wear may lead to complications including a build-up of debris underneath the lens. This may lead to issues with the corner in either one eye or both. 

Customers should also be aware that contact lenses can mean that they are more likely to experience eye infections. The increased risk here comes from the fact that you will need to touch your eyeball to put the contact in. Your cornea will be exposed to dirt and debris, particularly if you are not taking the right steps to use your contact lenses correctly. 

Tips On Using Contact Lenses Safely And Properly 

To avoid issues with contacts, you need to make sure that you are using them the right way. This is a little more complicated compared to alternative eye solutions where you just need to wipe the lens and keep them in a case. 

Check The Expiration DateContact Lenses

It is important to check the expiration date whenever you use contacts, especially if you have set up an annual supply. This is true whether you have ordered an annual supply or completed separate orders. The date of expiration will usually be one to two years after you have ordered them. 

Maintain Them The Right Way

If you do purchase an annual supply of contacts, it’s important to maintain them the right way. This will help ensure that they don’t negatively impact your cornea or cause problems such as infections. You can ask the medical professional that provided you with the prescription about the best ways to maintain your contacts. This can differ depending on the product that you use. 

Where Can You Get Contact Lenses?

Once you have a prescription, you can complete a contact lens order online. These will usually take about one week to deliver depending on the supplier. Once you purchase lenses once, you can then get the same prescription with the same pair of contacts more easily. A repeat order like this is available with every type of contact recommended by a medical professional, and most people set up an annual supply.

FAQs About Contact Lenses 

Are Contact Lenses Better Than Glasses?

Many contact lens wearers prefer them, and many eyeglass wearers have tried contacts and don't like them. One of the reasons for this is that eye contact lenses will provide a more natural vision. When you wear these, they move with your eyeball and there’s nothing blocking what you see. They also don’t fog up or typically get wet, unlike the alternative. Contacts are also light which means that you’re not going to notice them when worn at all. 

Replacement LensesThat said, they do need more care and you need to buy an annual supply every year. If you don’t maintain them, then there’s a risk you could get an eye infection. They can also mean that you need more follow-up sessions with your eye care professional to check your vision and ensure that you are getting the right treatment. 

A big benefit of eyeglasses is that they are far easier to use compared to eye contact lens, and you don't need to buy an annual supply every year. You can also choose the lenses that match your style and you don’t need to touch your eye to take them off. You can even get products from a particular fashion brand. 

Do Contact Lenses Need To Be Prescribed?

A pair of contact lenses should be recommended by a medical professional. You do need a prescription regardless of why you are using them. This does include decorative contact lenses. If this is not the case, then the lenses could be dangerous to wear and there might be a safety issue.

How Do I Know If Contact Lenses Are The Right Choice?

Whether contacts are the right choice for you will often depend on factors that impact your lifestyle. For instance, those with a more active lifestyle may prefer contact lenses because they don’t have to worry about them falling off.

That said, you could be squeamish about touching your eye. If that’s the case, then contacts aren’t going to be the right choice because you’ll constantly be putting them in and taking them out. As well as this, because you need an annual supply, they might also be a lot more expensive in the long term compared to the alternative option. 

You might even want to consider the aesthetics of contacts or the alternative option. Some people love the idea of using contacts to change the appearance of their eyes. Others prefer the way that eyeglasses look and believe that an accessory like this adds a lot to their appearance. Eyeglasses can make your eyes seem larger which can also ensure that they are more eye-catching. Contacts are better suited for people who want to make sure that no one knows they have issues with their eyesight. 

We hope this helps you understand everything that you need to know about contact lenses and whether they could be the right choice for your needs. Ultimately, contacts can be used for virtually every type of issue with eyesight. However, they will also require a lot of maintenance and they can make other eye issues far more likely. If you are worried about this, then your best option will be glasses. However, you should always rely on the advice of your medical professional. 

I Am Experiencing Vision Problems. What Should I Do?

If you are experiencing vision problems, then you need to book an examination with a doctor. The results of this exam will determine whether you need a medical device to correct your vision. There are two main types of medical devices that can be recommended: glasses and contact lenses. The right choice will depend on a variety of factors. 

How Do I Find The Best Eye Doctor?

Most people look for an eye doctor near them without knowing that there are many eye care specialties and it is import to find the right kind of eye doctor to solve your needs.  The most common purpose for a doctor is when you need a routine eye exam, and this can be done by an optometrist (OD) or an ophthalmologist (MD).  An optician is not a doctor – they can only supply you with eyeglasses, lenses, and contact lenses.

How Do I Use Vision Insurance For Contacts?

Your vision insurance can be used for contact lenses, either in network or out of network, and the benefit tends to be better for contacts than for eyeglasses.  Most eye care services related to contacts are usually covered by your vision plan, with the exception of vision therapy, and contact lens solution.

Author of this article: 

Mark Agnew, AuthorMark Agnew
CEO of Eyeglasses.com, which he founded in 1999.  For over twenty years, he has educated consumers, improved their vision choices, and reduced costs in eyewear.  Mark authored The Eyeglasses Buying Guide, the most comprehensive and best-selling glasses buying guide in the world.

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