You likely grew up seeing hard contact lenses as the norm, but as the industry has evolved, soft contact lenses have become more popular. While hard contact lenses are no longer in common use, there are still some advantages to using them, depending on the type of vision correction you need.
Hard Contact Lenses: Durable and Rigid
A hard contact lens may be either made out of a plastic material (which is non-permeable to oxygen) or a silicone material (which is permeable to oxygen). Older contact lenses were almost universally made out of the non-permeable plastic material, which didn’t allow oxygen to reach our eyes. Over time, this would cause damage to an individual’s eyes, and damage the individual’s health and comfort.
Newer, permeable rigid contact lenses allow for more oxygen flow than regular soft contact lenses. They also last longer and are less expensive over time because they don’t need to be as frequently replaced.
The major issue with rigid contact lenses today is that they tend to be uncomfortable. There’s a long time when a patient has to adapt to the new lens.
Soft Contact Lenses: Comfortable and Soft
Soft contact lenses are made out of a very soft material, which is gas-permeable and transmits oxygen to the cornea. This was a huge step up from traditional hard contact lenses, but they aren’t quite as gas permeable as newer rigid contact lenses.
The primary advantage to soft contact lenses is that they are comfortable for most people immediately after insertion; there is little adaptive time necessary to get used to this type of lens. This type of lens also frequently doesn’t need extensive cleaning, because it comes in daily, weekly, and monthly options.
For most people, a soft contact lens is going to be better and more frequently available — but a rigid contact lens could still be an option. The only person who can tell for sure is your doctor.