Hard contact lenses (also called gas permeable lenses) seem to have gotten somewhat of a bad rap over the years, replaced by many contact wearers with the ever-comfortable soft contact lenses. Don’t get us wrong – there’s a lot to love about the watery, silicone smooth fit and feel of soft lenses. But hard contacts shouldn’t be totally discounted, either! In fact, you might want to consider switching over…
Hard Contacts: The Early Years
The first contacts released to the public were hard lenses. These OG lenses were made from a plastic called poly methyl methacrylate (PMMA). Glass-wearers rejoiced over them ‘round the globe, but were soon admitting they weren’t exactly the most comfortable things to wear. That’s because the PMMA completely blocked oxygen from reaching the cornea, which often led to dry eyes. To be fair, eyes weren’t exactly starved for oxygen — these early hard lenses worked by shifting slightly each time the wearer blinked, which allowed oxygen to slip past them. Soft lenses, on the other hand, are all about promoting moisture and maximum comfort thanks to their water-based technology and thin, bendable shape, all of which allow oxygen to flow easily to the eyeball.
The Benefits of Today’s Hard Contact Lenses
Luckily, hard lenses have come a long way from those of yesteryear. Case in point:
- They’re Breathable
While they’re still rigid, stiff lenses, silicone is now incorporated into them, which allows oxygen to pass through to the eyeball. This is majorly good news for your eye health, and also leads to greater comfort for the wearer.
- They’re Durable
While many folks bemoan the rigid feel and shape of hard contact lenses, they don’t realize that it actually has its benefits. A stiff lens is much more durable than its soft counterpart, which is notorious for ripping and tearing rather easily. This is one reason that soft lenses are made as dailies and monthlies — they’re not exactly made to last for the long haul. Hard lenses, on the other hand, can last for years with proper care and maintenance. And, yes, you read that right: years.
- They Can Improve Your Vision
Something else a lot of people don’t realize is that hard contact lenses can actually improve vision. Their rigid form means they won’t bend each time you blink, which prevents your eye from constantly having to refocus. What’s more, they won’t lose their shape over time. Holding to their unyielding, original design allows for more precise vision every time you wear them. For some, they can also help stop the progression of nearsightedness.
- They’re Ideal for Those with Astigmatism & Unusual Shaped Eyes
Hard lenses are worth checking out for anyone, but especially if you have an unusual eye shape or astigmatism, which is an atypical curvature of the cornea. This is because they can be molded to fit your exact shape, no matter how abnormal it may be. When the custom fit lenses are worn, it’s like you have a perfect eye shape, resulting in optimal, clear vision.
Maintenance of Hard Contact Lenses
Caring for hard contact lenses isn’t necessarily difficult or much different than for soft lenses. They do require cleaners and drops designed specifically for hard lenses, though. These tend to be a bit more expensive; but remember, you’re caring for a pair of lenses that can last months if not years. Overall, you’ll likely end up spending significantly less over time.
It’s worth noting that gas permeable lenses require a certain period of adjustment when new. The stiff lens is almost always noticeable in the eyeball, which can take some getting used to. After this adjustment period ends, most folks are perfectly happy with their lenses. However, if you stop wearing them for a few days, you will go through this again next time you pop them in. This typically isn’t enough to deter people from wearing hard contacts, but it may come as a surprise at first. If you’re aware of it upfront, it’s easier to get through that adjustment period and come to love your hard contacts!
We hope this piece has helped shed some light on hard lenses. They really have a ton of benefits most people aren’t aware of. The next time you’re in the market for a new pair of lenses, don’t be so quick to discount them!
Image courtesy of Niek Beck