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Glasses AND contacts? Can I alternate wearing them?

woman looking perplexed trying to decide between contacts or glasses

Can you alternate between eyeglasses and contact lenses? 

Choosing between eyeglasses and contact lenses doesn’t have to be a binary choice. You can absolutely own both glasses and contacts, and switch between them as you see fit based on your work, comfort or lifestyle needs on a given day.

For example, glasses may make sense at work (glasses can make you seem smarter, research shows) and contacts on the playing field (breaking your glasses wouldn’t be smart).

If you’re considering your first pair of contacts or wondering if you should get an updated pair of backup glasses, this information can help you picture a world in which both types of eyewear would be handy. 

When would I want contacts over glasses?

If you’ve ever been in a situation in which you worried about your glasses falling off, fogging up or overwhelming your outfit, you might understand why someone would choose to wear contact lenses instead. 

Sports and outdoors

If you want to hit the gym, play basketball or practice yoga, contact lenses can be a great option since you don’t have to worry about constantly pushing them up or holding them tight to your face.

If you love to ski or want to try skydiving but don’t love the idea of buying prescription goggles, contacts are a great workaround. 

The wild world of weather

Aside from use in the sun and snow, another perk of contact lenses is they don’t fog up or get covered in raindrops. 

Condensation during the colder months might make your eyeglasses foggy, especially when transitioning from the heated indoors of your house to the frozen tundra outside, then back to indoor warmth and comfort. 

When it’s raining, you don’t have to worry about contacts getting blurry from all the raindrops — they keep your vision crystal clear. 

Keeping it low-key

If you don’t like the style of your current glasses, or you feel like glasses add too much to the look you’re going for, contacts are great because they never clash with what you’re wearing. 

That being said, don’t feel stuck with your glasses — you can always choose a new pair that suits you better

When would I want glasses over contacts?

Even though contacts are convenient for daily use, there are some situations in which you might prefer prescription eyeglasses.

For the love of convenience … and protection

Glasses are easier to put on and take off, and they’re easier to clean — just a quick wipe of the lens cloth versus getting contact solution, washing your hands, taking your contacts out, cleaning them and putting them back in — and for many people, they’re easier on the eyes.

When the elements are at their worst, glasses act as a bit of a shield for your eyes. For instance, if there’s dust or debris in the air, glasses are likely a better choice than contacts. Think of all the grit that your contacts would attract on a day like that.

Your eyes demand glasses

If you have dry eyes or astigmatism, it may be difficult to find contacts that you can wear comfortably throughout the day. 

While lenses have been made in special shapes and with special materials to accommodate different needs, you might find that glasses are a better option for you.

Make a statement

For the fashionistas out there, glasses make the perfect accessory

Whether you want to give off a retro vibe with Wayfarers or cat-eyes, dress up an outfit with crystal-accented frames, or go bold with bright colors or fancy prints, your glasses can say a lot about you.

Don’t forget backup

Whether your primary choice for day-to-day eyewear is contacts or glasses, it’s important to have a backup pair of specs — in your current prescription — handy. Anything can happen that would put your backup pair on the spot. For example, you could: 

  • Step on your favorite glasses 

  • Lose your glasses

  • Rip a contact

  • Get pink eye

  • Lose a contact on vacation 

  • Suffer from digital eye strain

Can I switch from contacts to glasses — or vice versa — on the same day?

Let’s say you had a long day yesterday, didn’t get much sleep last night, and you just found the perfect opportunity to take a nap. You can’t sleep in your contacts, so what do you do? 

If you wear weekly or monthly reusable contact lenses, take them out and put them in your lens case (with solution), switch to glasses, then lay down (and take off your glasses) and go to sleep. Enjoy a lovely, restful nap. 

When you wake up, you won’t have exposed your eyes to unnecessary bacteria or protein buildup, or feel like your contacts are glued to your eyeballs. Wear your glasses until you feel like your eyes are “open enough” to put your contacts back in, and you’re good to go. 

Including that glorious nap, here are some scenarios where you might need a midday contact lens break:

  • Sleeping

  • Swimming

  • Showering (and if you dry your hair, wait until you’re done before putting them back in)

  • Allergies (you’re not supposed to put in eye drops while you’re wearing your contacts)

Daily disposable contacts are only meant for one use, so if you take them out during the day (even if it’s for just a few hours), you need to throw them away and start with a new pair when you’re ready to put contacts back in. If you wear dailies and don’t want to waste an extra pair, consider leaving your glasses on afterward. 

Can I use my eyeglass prescription for contacts, or vice versa?

If you are alternating between your glasses and contacts (or your contacts and your glasses), you might think that you can use your glasses prescription for contacts (or vice versa).

No, you can’t. Eyeglass prescriptions and contact lens prescriptions are very different, and you can’t use one in place of the other. 

In the United States, you can’t purchase contact lenses without a prescription from an eye doctor.

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