Contact lenses are medical devices that can be worn for cosmetic or therapeutic reasons. A prerequisite to contact lens fitting is a comprehensive eye examination including a thorough evaluation of the front of the eye where the contact lens rests. During a contact lens fitting, the doctor can provide diagnostic lenses, lens care kits, individual instructions for wear and care and the necessary follow-up visits to ensure a proper fit and good eye health.
The University Eye Center offers a wide variety of contact lens options for people with these conditions:
- Aphakia (adult and pediatric)
- Myopia Control
- Irregular Cornea
- Post-Surgical Cornea
- Ocular Surface Disease
- Ocular Trauma
There are options for almost everyone. Below is a list of the various types of contact lenses available along with some advantages and considerations to keep in mind for each of them:
Gas-Permeable Contact Lenses (GP)
Made of flexible plastics that allow oxygen to pass through to the eyes.
• Excellent vision
• Exceptional safety profile
• Can correct for all types of refractive errors and corneal shapes
• Easy to insert and handle
• Durable with infrequent replacement
• Available in tints
• Require consistent wear to maintain adaptation
• Can dislodge more easily than other types of contact lenses
• Debris can more easily get underneath
Soft Contact Lenses
Soft contact lenses are made of more flexible plastic that allows oxygen to pass. They can be disposed of on a daily, bi-weekly, monthly, quarterly or even yearly basis depending on what your doctor thinks is best for your eyes.
• Very short adaptation period
• Better initial comfortable and more difficult to dislodge than GP lenses
• Available in corrections for astigmatism, presbyopia, or colors to enhance or change eye color
• Great for active lifestyles
• May not correct all vision problems
• Vision may not be as sharp as with GP lenses
Hybrid Contact Lenses
Lenses that have a GP lens in the center and soft skirt on the outside.
• Exceptional vision like a GP
• Superior comfort compared to GP lenses
• Initial insertion and removal requires more training
• Lens has to be filled with unidose non-preserved saline prior to insertion
• May not correct all types of astigmatism
• Must be replaced every six months
These lenses are a larger diameter GP lens that completely covers the cornea and rest on the sclera (the white part of the eye).
• Improved comfort compared to small diameter gas permeable lenses
• Superior quality of vision for patient with astigmatism or other ocular surface disorders
• Can correct all types of astigmatism and presbyopia
• Good option for patients intolerant to soft and GP contact lenses
• A potential option for patients suffering from dry eye
• Lens has to be completely filled with unidose non-preserved saline prior to insertion
• Insertion and removal may be more time consuming compared to soft or GP lenses until the skill is mastered
• May require more visits compared to soft and GP lenses
Corneal refractive therapy (CRT), or vision shaping treatment (VST), is a non-surgical process to reshape the cornea. The result is temporary correction of nearsightedness. These specially designed GP lenses reshape the cornea while you sleep, to provide clear vision when the lenses are removed upon waking. This technology offers freedom from glasses or contact lenses during the day. Active individuals can freely participate in sports without the interference of glasses or contacts. Eye irritation and dryness, sometimes associated with contact lens wear due to outside dust and pollutants, are also eliminated since these lenses are worn only at night.
There are a number of treatment options, including contact lenses, which may be able to slow down the progression of myopia. Orthokeratology lenses and some soft multifocal contact lenses have been shown to slow the progression of nearsightedness. Those choosing soft multifocal lenses will be fit with lenses for daytime use whereas those choosing orthokeratology will sleep in lenses overnight. Although research shows myopia progression control with both modalities, currently they are not FDA approved for myopia control.
Colored Contact Lenses
Colored contact lenses are available as visibility tints, enhancement tints and opaque color tints. A visibility tint is usually a light blue or green tint added to a lens to aid in lens visibility during insertion and removal or if dropped. It does not affect eye color. An enhancement tint is a solid, but translucent (see-through) tint that is a little darker than a visibility tint and is meant to enhance the existing color of your eyes. These types of tints are usually best for people who have light-colored eyes and want to make their eye color more intense. Opaque colors are more solid and can change your eye color completely. If you have dark eyes, you’ll need this type of color contact lens to change your eye color.
There are two main ways to correct presbyopia with contact lenses – monovision or multifocal lenses. Contact lenses for presbyopia may be available as soft, GP, scleral or hybrid lenses. Some of these designs can also correct for astigmatism.
Multifocal/Bifocal Contact Lenses
With these lenses, the reading, intermediate and distance portions of the prescription are incorporated in the contact lens. They are available as either aspheric (similar to no-line bifocals), or translating (lined bifocals).
Monovision is a treatment in which one eye is fit with a lens for seeing things at a distance and the other eye is fit for seeing close up. Many people are able to adapt, however, some people experience feelings of blurred vision, imbalance, have headaches or eyestrain.
Reading glasses can be worn, as needed, over your contact lenses to provide additional magnification.