Types of Contact Lenses
Disposable Soft Contact Lenses
There are various types of disposable contact lenses available. Certain lenses are suitable for people who would like to wear their contacts only very occasionally, whereas other lenses are designed for those who prefer a full-time wearing schedule.
Some of the different types of disposable lenses include:
1. Fortnightly or monthly disposables
These are the most popular contact lens modality, and cater for a wide range of prescriptions including corrections for astigmatism. There are even multifocal designs available that enable clear distance and reading vision, without the need for any glasses. These lenses need to be cleaned each day using a disinfection system and are stored overnight in a contact lens case.
2. Single-use (daily) disposables
Daily disposables lenses are designed to be worn only once and are then disposed of. These lenses are extremely popular as they offer the highest levels of convenience and hygiene, with no cleaning procedures required. Daily disposable lenses are suitable for both part-time and full-time wearers, with a range of materials available including lenses to suit people with dry eye.
3. Extended (overnight) wear lenses
A select range of monthly disposable lenses are approved for wear overnight, such that they do not need to be removed each day prior to sleep. The primary benefit of these lenses is the convenience of minimal lens handling and cleaning. However, as there is a documented risk of increased eye infections with this lens modality, it is not suitable for all patients.
4. Tinted (cosmetic) disposable lenses
A range of daily and two-weekly disposable tinted contact lenses are available.
Long term Soft Contact Lenses
Long term soft lenses are generally used for patients with complex prescriptions that require a custom-made lens. While these lenses were once used frequently, improvements in the technology and availability of disposable soft lenses have made these the first choice for the majority of contact lens wearers.
Rigid Gas Permeable or RGP Contact Lenses
Rigid gas permeable (RGP) contact lenses offer some outstanding benefits over soft lenses. Because RGP lenses are made from a firm plastic material, they retain their shape when you blink, which tends to provide sharper vision than flexible soft lenses. People with astigmatism will usually achieve better clarity and more consistent vision with RGP lenses than soft lenses. RGP lenses also have better durability and are less expensive in the long term. A pair of rigid lenses is typically used for 1-2 years before being replaced. RGP lenses don’t contain water like soft lenses and so resist deposits and don’t dehydrate. Many patients find RGP lenses easier to insert and remove than soft lenses.
RGP lenses are recommended for specialized forms of contact lens fitting, including very high prescriptions, keratoconus, post-corneal graft and orthokeratology.