Soft vs. Hard Contact Lenses: Which Is Right for You?
Contact lenses aren't a one-size-fits-all solution. The type of lens that works well for your friend may not be the ideal option for you. Taking a look at the pros and cons of each type of contact lens available can help you decide whether soft or hard contact lenses are the better choice for you.
About Soft Contact Lenses
Soft contact lenses are made from silicone hydrogel, a flexible type of plastic that conforms to the shape of your cornea. The cornea is the clear tissue that covers your iris and pupil. Soft contact lenses improve your vision if you have myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), astigmatism (blurry vision at any distance), or presbyopia. Presbyopia affects your eye's ability to focus as you get older. If you're considering soft contact lenses, you'll need to decide between daily and extended wear lenses.
Daily wear lenses are worn once before being thrown out. They're made of thinner plastic than extended wear contact lenses.
- Daily Wear Pros. You may find daily wear contact lenses a little more comfortable than extended wear contact lenses, thanks to their thin design. Because the lenses are disposable, you won't have to worry about protein buildup, a problem that can cause discomfort and increase your risk of giant papillary conjunctivitis (GPC). Giant papillary conjunctivitis causes red, swollen bumps inside your eyelids. Protein buildup may also increase your risk for infections or dry eye, according to All About Vision. If you suffer from dry eye, your optometrist can recommend soft contact brands that are designed to keep your eyes moister. Do you hate the idea of cleaning contact lenses every night? When you choose soft daily wear lenses, you'll won't need to buy cleaning solutions or lens cases. You'll start each day with a brand-new pair of lenses.
- Daily Wear Cons. Daily wear contact lenses tear more easily than extended wear or hard lenses. If you take a lens out in the middle of the day, you'll need to replace it with a fresh contact lens and won't be able to wear it again. Daily wear lenses are more likely to absorb smoke, allergens, dust, and other substances, which may lead to eye irritation.
Extended Wear Contact Lenses are made of thicker plastic and can be worn for up to one month, although your eye doctor may recommend wearing them for a shorter period.
- Extended Wear Pros. Extended wear lens are thicker and less likely to tear than daily wear lenses. Their design increases the amount of oxygen that reaches your cornea. The lens can be removed if needed and placed back in your eye after using a rewetting solution. If cost is a concern, extended wear contact lenses may be better for your budget. The lenses cost a little less than daily wear.
- Extended Wear Cons. You'll need to clean and disinfect your contact lenses every night. If you don't, your contacts may become uncomfortable due to protein buildup. Failing to follow the cleaning schedule your eye doctor recommends also increases your risk for eye infection.
About Hard Contact Lenses
Hard contact lenses are also called gas permeable contact lenses. They're smaller, made of stiffer plastic and aren't flexible like soft contact lenses. Hard contact lenses also sharpen your vision if you have myopia, hyperopia, astigmatism, or presbyopia.
- Hard Lens Pros. Hard lenses provide sharper vision than soft lenses and allow more oxygen to reach your cornea due to their smaller size. Protein doesn't stick to hard contact lenses as easily as soft lenses, which may make them a better option if you have sensitive eyes. Hard lenses are the most durable type of contact lenses and can last for as long as a year with regular cleaning and careful handling. Hard lenses may offer better vision if you have a significant degree of astigmatism or irregularly shaped corneas. The lenses may also slow the progression of myopia.
- Hard Lens Cons. Hard lenses can be less comfortable than soft lenses. You'll need to gradually increase your daily wearing time while you get used to them. If you haven't worn the lenses for a while, you may need to restart the adjustment process. Like extended wear lenses, hard contacts require daily cleaning to prevent discomfort or infection. Hard contact lenses don't conform to your cornea as tightly as soft lenses and may be more likely to fall out when you're active.
Are you ready to improve your vision with contact lenses? Contact our office to schedule a contact lens exam.
All About Vision: 3 Best Contacts for Dry Eyes in 2023
American Optometric Association: Healthy Vision and Contact Lenses
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Contact Lens Types, 1/11/2022
American Academy of Ophthalmology: Contact Lenses for Vision Correction, 5/3/2024