The growing demand for the different contact lenses has influenced the manufacture of custom -made types that would suit various eye conditions. Contact lenses are generally grouped into two major types – soft and hard. The soft lenses are made of silicone and hydro gel, while the hard lenses are made of a type of silicone that is RGP or Rigid Gas Permeable. Choosing between soft or hard lenses would depend on the current diagnosis and the patient’s preference.
Soft lenses are made of materials that allow oxygen to pass between the contact lens and the cornea. This reduces the risk of having dry eyes and the concomitant infection that may ensue. Soft lenses are more comfortable to wear, especially for the first timers.
The soft lenses have subtypes and here are some examples of the different contact lenses of the soft type.
Disposables – These are the “one day use” contacts, the patient using a fresh new pair every day. Disposables do not require cleaning solutions, reducing the risk of getting dry eye syndrome and irritation to cleaning solutions. These types of contacts are perfect for those with allergies.
Extended Wear Contact lenses – These lenses may be worn continuously for 6 to 30 days straight. They are made of silicone material, allowing oxygen to pass through to the cornea. This kind of lens, however, not only allows oxygen through but also other materials that may cause irritation.
Colored contact lenses – Used primarily for cosmetic purposes, however, there has been an increased demand for production because some prescription lenses now have a color tint to them. A word of advice: Do not share lenses with anybody, no matter how pretty they may look.
Hard type lenses are more durable than the soft ones, some lasting up to one year. They are easier to take care of and cleaning them is a breeze. Different contact lenses of the hard type are also available. Examples of which are the following:
PMMA – This kind of lens is made up of hard plastic (Polymethylmethacrylate) which offers durability and effective vision correction. However, due to its rigid material, it is not very comfortable to wear and does not allow oxygen to pass through to the cornea. Common complaints of patients are swelling in the eye and cloudy vision after extended use.
RGP (Rigid Gas Permeable) – Like the soft lens, RGP contact lenses allow oxygen to pass through to the cornea. However, because it is more rigid, this type of lens is usually resistant to deposit build up, giving the patient a clearer, crisper vision. They are relatively less expensive than the soft type because of their life span.
A good ophthalmologist will recommend the best fit from the different contact lenses available. He may take into consideration his patient’s physical activity or involvement in sports. Age could also be a factor in choosing the right kind. Most important is the proper diagnosis of the defect. That alone will dictate the kind of lens to use in correcting the patient’s vision impairment. In addition, screening for allergies must be done. Some solutions may cause allergic reactions in some but not all.
In conclusion, we should always seek professional advice before we get overwhelmed by all the different contact lenses available in the market. After all, the eyes are the windows of the soul. We should treasure the gift of sight and be thankful every day we wake up and see the beauty of the world around us.
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