Contact lenses are divided into two main categories: soft and rigid gas permeable. Soft contact lenses (SCLs) are made of a polymer-plastic combined with water, which allows oxygen to pass through the lenses. The newer line of SCLs is made with a silicone hydrogel material that allows greater oxygen to pass through, promoting better corneal health and the option for extended-wear (overnight) use. Unlike older versions of hard lenses, rigid gas permeable (RGP) lenses are made with silicone polymers that allow abundant oxygen transmission to the cornea as well.
SCL designs can vary from being spherical (nearsighted or farsighted prescription that is uniform) to toric (more than one prescription on the lens for patients with astigmatism), multifocal (having far and near prescriptions), or multifocal toric. Like SCLs, RGP lens designs can be spherical, toric, and bifocal but specialty designs like scleral (large diameter RGPs that may help with corneal irregularities), keratoconic (for patients with keratoconus, a thinning corneal disorder), or corneal refractive therapy (CRT) lenses (used overnight to correct your vision) are also available.
The customary annual replacement of RGP lenses offers simplicity, but many patients prefer disposing their SCLs more frequently on either a daily, bi-monthly, monthly, or quarterly replacement schedule. Frequent lens replacement with disposable SCLs improves health, comfort, and can be very convenient when patients inadvertently lose or tear their lens.
Colored SCLs give the unique option to change your eye color completely with an opaque color tint or enhance the existing color of your eyes with an enhancement or translucent tint. A visibility tint of light blue or green is aimed to improve handling and is available in both SCLs and RGPs.
Contact lenses can be worn on a daily basis or occasionally for social events or recreation. Have an eye exam to discuss if you are a good candidate for contact lens wear. Based on your prescription and the health of your eyes, your optometrist will prescribe the most appropriate contact lenses for you.