Types of Contact Lenses
Once an eye doctor has completed your eye exam, they will identify the best contact lens for you and your vision.
Classified by material, there are four types of contact lenses:
- Soft lenses are thin lenses made of gel-like, water-containing plastics. More than 90 percent of contact lenses worn today are soft lenses. They generally are easy to adapt to and cover the entire cornea (the clear front surface of your eye).
- Gas permeable lenses, also known as GP, RGP or rigid gas permeable lenses, are smaller lenses made from rigid, waterless plastics. In some cases, GP lenses provide sharper vision than soft lenses.
- Hybrid lenses have a central GP zone, surrounded by a border made of a soft lens material. These lenses provide the crisp optics of a GP lens, with comfort that rivals soft lenses.
- Hard lenses are similar in appearance to GP lenses, but they are made of rigid plastic that is not permeable to oxygen. Hard lenses have virtually been replaced by GP lenses and rarely prescribed today.
Silicone hydrogel contact lenses are the most popular lenses in the United States, accounting for 67 percent of new contact lens fittings and refittings in 2011. Regular soft lenses accounted for 24 percent, followed by GP lenses (8 percent) and hybrid lenses (1 percent).
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