Consumer Guide to Contact Lenses
This comprehensive series of informative articles is written by experts in the field of contact lenses.
Here you'll find everything you need to know about contact lenses including detailed descriptions of the many types of contacts for virtually any refractive error, for presbyopia or if you simply want to enhance or change your eye color.
Also included is information to help you understand your contact lens prescription, symptoms that might indicate a contact lens or eye problem, and important considerations when you shop for replacement lenses.
Contact Lens Discomfort: Here's What to Do
Don't suffer! Here's solid advice for specific symptoms and situations.
Contact Lens FAQ
Commonly asked questions about contact lenses, with answers from experts.
Contact Lens Wearing Tips
How to apply and remove contact lenses, tips on contact lenses and makeup, and more.
Free Trial Contact Lenses - Special Offers
Rebates, discounts and free trials for contacts and care products.
Teens & Contacts: What Parents Need to Know - Sponsored Section
Should your teen wear contact lenses? Read this Q&A to help you decide.
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Contact Lenses for Dry Eyes
The best contact lenses for dry eyes and remedies for contact lens-related dryness discomfort.
Contact Lenses for Hard-to-Fit Eyes
The best contact lenses for conditions that make lens wear more challenging.
Where to Buy Contact Lenses
Should you purchase replacement contact lenses from your eye doctor, a retail store, or a website? Our 4-step buying guide will help you decide.
Buying Contact Lenses Online
Learn how to safely buy contact lenses online and how to find the best value.
Types of Contact Lenses
- Bifocal Contact Lenses can provide clear vision at all distances after age 40
- Bifocal Contact Lenses for Astigmatism correct both presbyopia and astigmatism
- Color Contact Lenses give your eyes a subtle or dramatic new look
- Custom Contact Lenses are an option for hard-to-correct vision problems
- Disposable Contact Lenses offer convenience and a healthy wearing experience
- Extended Wear Contact Lenses are approved for overnight wear or naps
- Gas Permeable (GP) Contact Lenses often provide sharper vision than soft lenses
- Monovision is a good alternative to bifocal contact lenses if you have presbyopia
- Orthokeratology Lenses enable correction-free vision during the day
- Prosthetic Contact Lenses mask eye injuries or disfigurements
- Scleral Contacts for irregular corneas, dry eyes and more
- Silicone Hydrogel Contacts transmit more oxygen to your eyes
- Special-Effect Contact Lenses: vampire, Goth, monster and anime looks
- Toric Contact Lenses and other contacts that correct astigmatism
Contact Lenses and LASIK
30-Day Contacts: A Smart Alternative to LASIK?
Extended wear contact lenses and LASIK both eliminate the need for daily contact lens care. Compare the safety, effectiveness and cost of each.
My LASIK Journey Guide - Sponsored Section
Answers to your questions about LASIK whether you're just starting your research or want information about the procedure and follow-up care.
Contact Lenses After LASIK
If you need sharper vision after LASIK or other vision surgery, specialty contact lenses can help.
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 Type of Contact Lenses Is Best for You?
Your eye care practitioner will help you choose contacts that:
- Enable you to see clearly
- Fit comfortably
- Match your lifestyle
Factors involved in prescribing the best contact lenses for your needs include: the size and shape of your eyes; your refractive error; whether you have presbyopia or dry eyes; your desired wearing time and lens replacement schedule; whether you want lenses that enhance or change your eye color; your willingness to clean and care for the lenses daily; and more.
[Page updated July 16, 2015]