Contact Lenses for Regular Eyes
Here is an overview of the types of lenses which are suitable for eyes which present no specific abnormalities or other eye conditions. You can read about lenses for complex conditions if you’ve found that standard contact lenses don’t work for you.
The majority of contact lens wearers wear disposable lenses. This refers to soft lenses which are used and then thrown away after 1 day, 2 weeks or a month. The range of powers available in disposable lenses is increasing all the time and the vast majority of prescriptions can be fitted with such lenses. Here is a quick low-down on these lens types:
- Used once then thrown away at the end of the day
- Powers available for short-sightedness, long-sightedness, astigmatism, and presbyopia (multifocal lenses)
- Very thin and comfortable
- No need for cleaning solutions, so they’re very convenient
- Low risk of infection (with good hygiene)
- Good for allergy sufferers
- Lower range of powers compared with monthly disposable lenses
- Cost more than monthly lenses
- Examples include Acuvue 1-Day, Focus Dailies, and Clariti One-Day.
Fortnightly and Monthly Disposable
- Kept for 2 or 4 weeks and cleaned every night, before then being discarded and replaced.
- Cleaned with and stored in special contact lens cleaning solution
- Huge range of prescriptions available including lenses for astigmatism and multifocal designs
- Very high oxygen permeable materials widely available
- Cheaper than daily lenses, but more cleaning and care involved
- Slightly higher risk of infection compared with daily lenses
- Some lenses are licensed to be slept in overnight for convenience, but the risk of infection with this modality is hugely increased so it’s not something we regularly advise.
- Examples include Acuvue Oasys, Biofinity, Air Optix Aqua, and Proclear.
When disposables either don’t fit or the prescription is out of the ‘standard’ range, soft lenses can be custom made using special lathes. These lenses can be made is almost any size, shape and power, from a large array of materials.
- Not disposable. Usually kept for 3, 6 or even 12 months before being replaced
- Good option for prescriptions not available in disposable lenses
- Useful for very flat, steep, large or small corneas when an ‘off the shelf’ lens such when as a disposable lenses doesn’t fit properly
- Can be quite cost-effective but expensive if frequently lost or damaged
RGP lenses are classically the standard and first choice lens for an irregular cornea or a high prescription, but are still frequently fitted for regular prescriptions thanks to their numerous benefits. In fact, until the 1960s, they were the only option, only they were made from acrylic back then! They are made from a breathable plastic (i.e. they let oxygen pass through the lens to eye) and typically range in diameter between 8-11mm. They rest entirely on the cornea, and move on blinking.
- Provide very sharp vision
- Very low risk of infection
- Often cheaper in the long-term as they can last 1-2 years or sometimes longer
- Initially not as comfortable as soft lenses, it takes time to get used to them
- Dust can get under the lens, and sometimes they can pop out of the eye and be lost
- May not fit very irregular corneas