Guide to Buying Contact Lenses: How to Choose Best for You - Art of Optiks
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Guide to Buying Contact Lenses

If you’re on the fence about getting contact lenses for the first time or if you are switching from eyeglasses to contact lenses, know that our doctors work diligently to stay up-to-date with the changing industry. This helps us give you access to all the new innovations that will provide you with the most comfortable and convenient lenses on the market.

It’s tough to know what kind of lenses are best for your eyes. It’s hard to make sense of a prescription and to know what brands are out there. So we’ve developed this informative guide to buying contact lenses to help you understand your prescription, what kinds of contact lenses we can fit you with, and how to use them if you’re a beginner.

What Do You Need to Buy Contact Lenses?

All contact lens prescriptions require an eye exam specifically for contacts. Your eyeglass prescription is not the same as your contact lens prescription, so you will need a separate contact lens exam. You will also need to have your contact lenses. Your doctor will try a few brands, depending on what type of correction you need, to obtain the best fit for the shape and curvature of your eyes.

How to Know What Contact Lenses to Buy

Before you make a decision regarding what kind of contact lenses you want to buy, you need to keep three details in mind: your lifestyle, budget, and whether you are nearsighted, farsighted, have astigmatism or an age-related vision problem. Our doctors can help you discern which kind of contact lenses are right for your particular vision needs.

Most contact lenses come in one of two broad categories: hard or soft contacts. Soft contact lenses are broken down into daily, weekly, biweekly, monthly, quarterly or annual replacement schedules. Hard contact lenses are made to be cleaned each night and are not disposable.

No matter which type of lens you choose, you must be diligent in keeping with your cleaning routine and schedule so that your lenses don’t become discolored, torn, filled with protein deposits and other forms of contamination that can cause infection.

Please check out our guide to buying contact lenses. You’ll gain valuable insight into how to know what contact lenses to buy and why.

#1. Daily Disposables

Daily disposable contact lenses are inserted into your eyes every day and tossed into the trash at night. They are not made to wear overnight as the thinner material that they are made of does not resist bacteria or protein build-up from your eyes. Doing so may promote eye infections as cleaning dailies may break down the contact lens material.

Change your lenses typically after 8 to 16 hours of wear. If you are putting in a particularly long day and your daily disposables become uncomfortable, you can always change into your eyeglasses or use rewetting drops to make them more comfortable.

If your lifestyle dictates that dailies won’t work for you, you can always give weekly or bi-weekly contacts a try.

#2. Monthly Disposables

Monthly disposable contact lenses may be worn up to 30 days before disposal. However, you must clean them each night and store them in saline so that they can be inserted with minimal risk of infection from wear. These are not the same as 30-day extended wear lenses. Extended wear lenses allow more oxygen to permeate them so that they can be worn continuously up to a month with less discomfort.

#3. Toric Lenses for Astigmatism

These soft contact lenses are also called torics. Toric lenses are made of hydrogels. They correct astigmatism by focusing on near or far and by angle rotation. If your astigmatism is mild, torics may correct any blurred vision, headaches or eye strain that you may have. If your astigmatism is stronger, you may need a different type of lens, like rigid gas permeable or hybrid lenses.

#4. Multifocals

Multifocal lenses, including bifocals, are used for people whose vision is not what it used to be. This is called presbyopia, commonly called “over-40 eyes.” Multifocal lenses correct the blurry vision caused by nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism caused by refractive errors in the eyes. Refractive errors occur when light bends improperly through the cornea to the retina.

There are three main types of multifocal contact lenses:

  • Concentric: Allows for gradual transitions from one prescription to another. The bulls-eye-like concentric pattern alternates correction for near and far distances.
  • Aspheric: Works like progressive eyeglasses, your prescriptions blend into each other from the center outward.
  • Segmented bifocal: All bifocal lenses are rigid gas permeable lenses. Like traditional bifocal eyeglasses, the bifocal prescription is at the bottom of the lens while your distance prescription is at the top.

Multifocals allow for reading close up, middle and far distances.

#5. Monovision

Monovision lenses also address presbyopia. But instead of your prescription changing on each lens, one lens prescription is for near vision and the other lens is for distance vision. Like multifocals, monovision lenses may take up to one month for you to adjust to the prescriptions.

Doctor Guide to Buying Contact Lenses

#6. Toric Multifocals

Toric multifocal lenses are for people dealing with presbyopia who also have astigmatism. People with astigmatism can’t wear typical spherical contact lenses because their corneal curve is shaped more like a football which causes blurriness and distorted vision. Toric lenses can give you sharper vision because their abnormal shape works on two different axes so that the light going through your cornea refracts properly. Toric Multifocals come in both soft contact lenses and RGPs.

#7. Scleral Lenses

Scleral contacts are specialized, rigid gas-permeable lenses that can aid the vision of patients with an irregular cornea. The larger lens fits over your eye’s sclera, the white part of your eye surrounding your cornea.

#8. Orthokeratology

Orthokeratology, also known as ortho-k, are specialized RGP lenses that work to temporarily change the shape of your cornea as you sleep. You take them out in the morning and should be able to go through your day seeing clearly. You wear them each night and remove them each day.

#9. RGPs

Although rigid gas permeable contact lenses allow more oxygen to reach your corneas so you can wear them longer, they are thicker and do not conform to the shape of your eye like a soft lens. This can make them more difficult to get used to. There is often an adaptation period of about six weeks or so. But once you get used to RGPs, most patients find them very comfortable. Patients with astigmatism often find that RGPs give sharper vision, especially at night, and you must clean them each night and reinsert each morning.

While soft lenses fit over your cornea, RGPs cover about 75 percent of your cornea. Learn more about RGPs and our comprehensive eye exams as we guide you to buying the right contact lenses for your unique eye needs.

#10. Hybrid Lenses

Just like the name implies, hybrid contact lenses are two types of lenses in one. The center is RGP while the outer band or skirt is either a hydrogel or a silicone hydrogel. These lenses are more difficult to fit and more expensive.

Our guide to buying contact lenses will help you discern if you’ve any questions about a particular type or brand of lenses. It’s a good starting point to begin the conversation regarding how to know what contact lenses to buy.

What Contacts Are Good for Beginners?

Most novice contact lens wearers opt for soft contacts since they are easiest to get used to and are less expensive. They are the most comfortable, easy-to-insert into your eyes and are available in disposable and extended wear for convenience. They are the healthiest option for contact lens beginners as you have many choices to fit your lifestyle, prescription needs and budget.

Can I Just Walk In and Buy Contact Lenses?

The United States is responsible for dispensing 1 out of 4 contact prescriptions in the world. The contact lens industry continues to develop ways to improve lens comfort, convenience and accessibility. Our doctors at Art of Optiks stay on top of every innovation in order to offer you the best exam and prescription available for your unique contact lens needs.

Visit us at our Wayzata and Edina locations. Our doctors and skilled technicians will teach you what you need to know to make your transition to contact lenses seamless and non-intimidating. You’ll walk out knowing how to properly insert and remove your contacts so you will be comfortable with your at-home care.

We hope that you’ve found our guide to buying contact lenses informative and helpful so that you can make the best choice regarding how to know what contact lenses to buy.

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