What Are the Differences Between Hard and Soft Contact Lenses?
Why does the eye see a thing more clearly in dreams than the imagination when awake? – Leonardo da Vinci
Would it surprise you to learn that the first contact lenses emerged in the 1500’s? In the writings of Leonardo da Vinci, there is a reference describing a device designed to improve corneal defects, and he refers to the accessory as a contact device. This might be a clue to his famous quote about being able to see more clearly in his dreams. If Da Vinci were able to live in our modern world, his dreams might have been realized.
Today’s market offers hard and soft lenses, extended wear lenses, bifocal lenses, and now in development; even telescopic contact lenses to improve vision for those who are legally blind. Each type of contact lens is unique and offers differing benefits. Depending on your eye’s shape, curvature, and also your eye prescription needs, your eye doctor can help you determine which type of contact lens might be right for you.
Which One Is Best?
Soft contact lenses are generally prescribed more often than hard contact lenses. Because soft contacts are made of a very malleable and flexible material, they are usually much more comfortable to wear. Hard contact lenses are usually prescribed for those who have irregular shaped corneas – for example, those who have astigmatism, or a condition known as keratoconus; however, there are increasing amounts of soft lenses designed to address such conditions, like the Biofinity Toric and Proclear Toric.
Hard Contact Lenses
Those who require a prescription for astigmatism or for an unusual corneal shape may benefit greatly from a hard contact lens prescription. This kind of lenses allow more oxygen into the eye than soft lenses, and also create a new refracting surface that can vastly improve vision. Today’s modern hard contact lens actually traps the eye’s own tears underneath the surface of the contact, which is an improvement because salty tears actually have a refractive quality that is comparable to the way our cornea refracts light for shaper vision. They are also very durable and can last for years before they need to be replaced. Your doctor will warn you that it will take time getting used to wearing this type of lens. Typically, patients will wear hard contacts for only a few hours each day. After about 2 to 4 weeks, they can be worn for a full 8 hours.
Advantages of Hard Contact Lenses
• Allow more oxygen to reach your eye, and do not dry your eyes out
• Last longer
• Correct cornea shape
Disadvantages of Hard Contact Lenses
• Take time to become accustomed to
• Can be more difficult to apply and remove
Soft Contact Lenses
According to the University Of Illinois Department Of Ophthalmology, 85% of contact lens wearers use soft lenses. Soft contact lenses are easy to apply, and since they are pliable, they provide a more comfortable fit. In some cases, patients feel they are easily torn: This is the main reason that disposable soft contact lenses like FOCUS Dailies have become so popular, as they allow the patient to simply throw the pair of lenses away at day’s end. Furthermore, opening a fresh new pair each morning prevents eye infections and irritations from cleaning and disinfecting solutions.
Advantages of Soft Contact Lenses
What are Extended-Wear Lenses?
Daily wear soft contacts are worn during the day and must be removed before sleeping. Extended wear soft contacts are made of Silicone Hydrogels, and are designed to allow a large amount of oxygen to permeate the cornea. The benefit of silicone, combined with the comfort of hydrogel, allows these contacts to be worn for longer than one day at a time, and they are often approved for continuous wear for several days in a row. To learn more, read our blog post about sleeping with contact lenses in.
Which Should You Choose?
The choice to wear hard or soft contact lenses is ultimately yours and your eye physician’s. Some patients enjoy the convenience of removing their contacts and throwing them away, while other patients like to have one pair that they use daily. The great news is that there are many amazing choices that have been created since Da Vinci’s first contact device. Today, we can see the beauty of our world more clearly than we can imagine it.