Italian Architect, Mathematician and Inventor Leonardo daVinci (1452-1519) produced the first known sketches that suggested the optics of the human eye could be altered by placing the cornea directly in contact with water. More than 350 years later those ideas were researched and studied to examine how the production of corrective lenses could conform to the front surface of the eye. In 2016, contact lenses are a common choice for people who would like clear vision without the bother of glasses to tote around all day. Since the inception of contact lenses to the vision field, they have come a long way. Let’s examine the types of contact lenses available and what might be right for you.
According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology there are two general types of contact lenses: hard and soft.
- Hard Lenses – The hard lenses most commonly used today are rigid, gas-permeable lenses (RGP for short). They are made of plastics and other materials such as silicone or fluoropolymers. Hard lenses hold their shape, yet allow the free flow of oxygen through the lenses to the cornea. RGP lenses may be the best choice when the cornea has enough astigmatism (is shaped like an egg instead of an orange); a soft lens will not provide sharp vision. They may also be preferable when a person has allergies or tends to form protein deposits on his or her contacts.
- Soft Lenses – Soft lenses are the choice of most contact lens wearers. These lenses are comfortable and come in many versions.
In addition there are sub-types of contact lenses that can be chosen based upon your lifestyle of preference for care. For example there are daily wear lenses, which are removed nightly and are replaced on an individualized schedule, and then there are extended wear lenses, which are worn overnight but are removed at least weekly for thorough cleaning and disinfection. Disposable-wear lenses are more expensive, but convenient. They are removed nightly and replaced on a daily, weekly, biweekly, or monthly basis. Talk to your eye doctor about the style that would be right for your life.