Contact lens types and materials

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Contact lens types and materials

There are a number of different types of contact lenses available on the market. Below you will find out more information about what is available

Contact lens types

Spherical contact lenses: these contact lenses contain one prescription throughout the lens, known as the spherical power to correct short sightedness or long sightedness; these tend to be cheaper than other kind of contact lenses.


Toric contact lenses: These lenses are used to correct the patients with astigmatism. They have different powers in different axis to correct the patients prescription.


Multifocal contact lenses: These lenses contain multiple prescriptions in the lens which allows for focusing in the distance as well as near. These lenses are used by people to correct presbyopia.


Coloured lenses: These lenses are designed to change the appearance of the eye; they come in a variety of colours. You can also get your prescription corrected in coloured contact lenses.


Tinted lenses: Acuvue Oasys with transitions lenses are new to the market; they work by turning the contact lens darker when activated by UV light. This is useful to help reduce exposure to bright lights outdoors.

Contact lens wear frequency

Contact lenses are classified by how often they should be discarded.

  • Daily disposable lenses: These should be discarded after a single day of wear.

  • 2 weekly lenses: These are reusable lenses which should be replaced every 2 weeks.

  • Monthly lenses: These are reusable lenses which should be discarded after a month or sooner.

  • Extended wear lenses: These can sometime be referred to as continuous wear lenses. The lenses are suitable to wear day and night for a period of time depending on the brand of lens. With extended wear lenses you are more at risk of developing eye infections so it is advisable to get your contact lens practitioner to discuss the ways to limit the risk.

Contact lens materials

There are 2 main types of contact lens materials used. Below you will find more information about both.

Soft contact lenses

Soft contact lenses are made from a soft gel-like plastic called hydrogels, these lenses are thin and soft which allow them to sit comfortably on the front surface of the eye. Hydrogel plastic was the material first used to make soft contact lenses, however more recently a more advanced material called silicon hydrogel is often used in the manufacture of contact lenses. This material allows more oxygen to reach the front surface of the eye, which means contact lenses can be worn for longer periods of time.


Gas permeable lenses

Gas permeable lenses can also be referred to as GP or RGP lenses. These lenses are rigid which means they maintain the shape on the eye. They are often used to correct patients with high levels of astigmatism and often provide better optical clarity over soft contact lenses. As gas permeable lenses are harder than soft contact lenses, initially people find them more uncomfortable as they are aware of the lens on the eye, however after a period of adaptation most patients have no issues with the comfort.