Contact lenses: Types and materials

by | Oct 18, 2021 | Contact Lenses

Contact lenses are an excellent choice for nearly anyone who needs vision correction and doesn’t want to wear glasses full time or undergo surgery.

Here are the basics you should know about contact lenses before you see your optician (if you are interested in wearing contacts).


Contact lens materials

The first choice when considering contact lenses is which lens material will best satisfy your needs. There are five types of contact lenses, based on type of lens material they are made of:

Soft lenses

Soft contact lenses are made from gel-like, water-containing plastics called hydrogels. These lenses are very thin and pliable and conform to the front surface of the eye.

Soft lenses are the by far the most worn lenses in the 21st century due to their comfort and simplicity in wearing and storing

Silicon hydrogel lenses are often the first choice of soft contact lenses for an eye care professional.

Silicone hydrogel lenses

Silicone hydrogel lenses are made of an advanced type of soft contact lens material that allows more oxygen to pass through the lens and reach the front surface of the eye. Silicone hydrogel contact lenses are now the most popular type of contact lenses.

Gas permeable lenses

Also called GP or RGP lenses, gas permeable contact lenses are rigid contact lenses that maintain their shape on the eye, enabling them to correct astigmatism and other refractive errors.

Gas permeable contact lenses are typically smaller in diameter than soft lenses and are made of highly oxygen-permeable materials.

It usually takes some time for your eyes to adjust to GP lenses when you first start wearing them, but after this initial adaptation period, most people find GP lenses are as comfortable as soft lenses.

Hybrid contact lenses

Hybrid contact lenses have a rigid gas permeable central zone, surrounded by a “skirt” of hydrogel or silicone hydrogel material. They are designed to provide wearing comfort that rivals soft or silicone hydrogel lenses, combined with the crystal-clear optics of GP lenses.

MMA lenses

MMA contact lenses are rigid contact lenses that look like GP lenses but are made of a plastic material that is not oxygen permeable. PMMA lenses were commonly prescribed years ago, but have essentially been replaced by gas permeable lenses.

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