Consumer Guide to Contact Lenses
Dr. Gary Heiting
Browse the Table of Contents below, or start by reading our Contact Lens Basics article.
Table of Contents
Contact Lens Wearing Tips
Learn how to apply and remove contact lenses, as well as what to do to protect your eyes when you wear makeup.
Free Trial Contact Lenses - Special Offers
Rebates, discounts and free trials for contacts and care products.
Contact Lens FAQ
40+ commonly asked questions about contact lenses, with expert answers.
Understanding Your Contact Lens Rx
You need a prescription for contacts, even if they're just for looks. Here's what all those numbers and terms mean on the Rx form.
Teens & Contacts: What Parents Need To Know - Sponsored Section
Should your teen wear contact lenses? Read this Q&A to help you decide.
Contact Lenses for Dry Eyes
Do your contact lenses feel dry and uncomfortable? Read about the best contact lenses for dry eyes and remedies for contact lens-related dry eye.
- Learn about Lobob allergy-free lens care for RGP/hard and soft contact lenses
- Find out about OCuSOFT's preservative-free one-step lens care system
Are Your Contacts Uncomfortable? Here's What to Do
Don't suffer! Here's solid advice for your specific symptoms or situation.
Contacts for Hard-to-Fit Eyes
Today almost everyone can wear contacts, but sometimes you need a little extra help.
Where To Buy Contact Lenses
How can you choose between eye doctors, retail stores and Internet sites? Our contact lens buying tips and price charts will help.
Buying Contact Lenses Online
Learn how to get the best price and value when shopping for contact lenses online.
Caring for Soft Contact Lenses
How to make sense of all the different products, and properly clean and disinfect your contact lenses. Also: Caring for RGPs, including how to avoid Acanthamoeba keratitis and fungal eye infections.
Contact Lenses After LASIK
You might still need specially designed contact lenses after refractive surgery.
30-Day Contacts: A Smart Alternative to LASIK?
Both eliminate daily contact lens hassles. Compare the safety, effectiveness and cost of contact lenses and LASIK.
Thinking About Eyeglasses or Contact Lenses? - Sponsored Section
Take this brief assessment to find out which options are right for you.
Types of Contact Lenses:
- Bifocal Contact Lenses provide clear vision at various distances
- Colored Contact Lenses give your eyes a subtle or dramatic change
- Custom Contact Lenses could work for you if other options fail
- Disposable Contact Lenses enable a healthier lens-wearing experience
- Extended Wear Contact Lenses for safe overnight wear or naps
- Gas Permeable (GP) Contact Lenses for the ultimate in crisp vision
- Monovision might work for you if bifocal contact lenses don't
- Orthokeratology Lenses enable contact lens-free vision during the day
- Prosthetic Contact Lenses mask eye injury or disfigurements
- Scleral Contacts for irregular corneas
- Silicone Hydrogel Contacts transmit more oxygen to your eyes
- Special-Effect Contact Lenses: vampire, goth, monster and anime looks
- Toric Contact Lenses provide good vision if you have astigmatism
About Contact Lenses
Today's contact lenses fall into two categories: soft lenses that are made from water-containing plastics, and GP or "oxygen permeable" rigid contact lenses.
Contact lenses may also be classified by wearing schedule. Daily wear contacts must be removed, cleaned and stored each night, while extended wear contact lenses are made from materials which are safe for overnight wear. Sometimes "continuous wear" is used for a type of extended wear lens that can be worn for up to 30 days.
Contacts can also be described by replacement interval that is, how often you discard the lenses and replace them with a fresh pair.
Daily disposable contact lenses are discarded nightly and therefore require no care, cleaning or lens case. Other common replacement intervals are weekly, bi-weekly, monthly or quarterly; any of those lenses can be called "disposable." Traditional, non-disposable lenses are usually replaced once a year, but these lenses are generally limited to unusual or difficult-to-manufacture prescriptions.
Contact Lens Designs
Various contact lens designs are available for different vision problems. Spherical contact lenses correct nearsightedness or farsightedness and are indicated by a minus or plus in your prescription, respectively. Bifocal contact lenses are similar to multifocal eyeglasses in that they use different optical zones to correct presbyopia (the age-related, decreased ability see at both near and far distances). Toric contact lenses correct astigmatism, which can accompany either nearsightedness or farsightedness.
Many lens designs come in colors that can enhance or change your natural eye color. Special-effect contact lenses are also available for novelty use and are used extensively in theatrical and filmed productions. Prosthetic lenses are colored contact lenses that can cosmetically mask eye disfigurement. Many contact lenses come with an embedded UV inhibitor as well.
Which Is the Right Contact Lens for You?
Your contact lenses should do three things:
- Properly fit your cornea.
- Give you clear vision.
- Provide any "extra" benefits you desire (or require) such as color, the convenience of daily disposal or multiple powers.
Contact lenses come in tens of thousands of combinations of size, shape and power. That's why contact lenses are a prescription item and must be fitted by an experienced professional. This ensures comfortable fit and great vision.
Your eye care practitioner will evaluate your eyes to determine which lens is right for you and will take into account your special needs such as dry eyes, a desire for color change or the need for overnight wear.
[Page updated April 2013]