Soft or Hard Contact Lenses? Advantages & Disadvantages?

Wearing contact lenses can help correct your vision if you have trouble seeing due to nearsightedness or farsightedness.When you see an ophthalmologist or optometrist for these lenses, you will need to decide between getting soft contacts or hard contacts. Understanding the differences between these types of contacts can help you choose the ones that will be more comfortable for your eyes. 

Soft contact lens

Advantages

  • Soft contacts first made their appearance in the optic world in the early ’70s.
  • Soft contacts are the most common type of contact lenses and account for over 85% of contact lenses dispensed.
  • Traditional soft contact lenses consist of soft plastic polymers and water (made of light, soft, and very flexible silicone hydrogel).
  • They allow oxygen to permeate through the lens material to the cornea. This water-containing plastic is also known as hydrogel. This increases comfort and helps maintain eye health.
  • Soft contact lenses are extremely comfortable and easy to apply. They are very flexible and, when fit properly, will form to the cornea (the front surface of the eye).
  • They are the most commonly worn type of contact lenses. This type of contact lens stays in place and is easier to adjust than hard contact lenses.
  • In most cases, soft contacts are used to correct myopia, also known as nearsightedness, hyperopia or farsightedness, astigmatism or blurred vision, and age-related loss of close-up vision.
  • Soft lenses come in different prescriptions and designs depending on your budget and need.
  • Some prescriptions, do not offer the same visual acuity as gas permeable lenses or glasses. Our doctors will help you determine which design is best for you.
  • Shorter adaptation period for new wearers. If you don’t wear your soft lenses for a week, they’ll still be comfortable when you put them on a week later.
  • Less susceptible to the intrusion of foreign objects under the lens, such as dust.
  • The use of these lenses does not usually deform the cornea.
  • Less sensitivity to light than with hard or RGP lenses.
  • Soft lenses are draped over the eye, so patients don’t feel them much when blinking and they usually move less meaning that they are more stable and thus ideal for sports, particularly contact sports such as football or basketball. Great for active lifestyles.
  • With a variety of options, people find disposable lenses daily, weekly, or monthly – and then thrown away.
  • Available in tinted versions and bifocals.
  • They are also the most commonly prescribed by doctors.
  • They are also more difficult to pop out of your eye than RGP contacts, which ensures that you lose them less frequently! 

Disadvantages

  • Less durable than hard or RGP lenses.
  • More involved lens care, especially for conventional soft lenses.
  • Susceptible to more protein or lipid deposits, that reduces lens performance in the long term.May absorb chemicals from the environment, which can irritate.
  • Your vision might not be as sharp compared to RGP contacts. 
  • They do wear out and need to be replaced frequently. 
  • They do not correct every eye problem. 
  • soft contact lenses include the risk of tearing a lens and less oxygen getting to the cornea than with RGPs. Some patients experience more dryness with SCLs.
  • May dry out, causing discomfort for some, especially under a hairdryer, in hot rooms, or windy, dry weather.
  • Some of the downsides of soft contact lenses are lower duration and they are more difficult to manipulate.
  • They have less gas permeability than modern rigid materials.
  • They are not all-optical powers are manufactured. 
  • Cleaning and maintenance of soft lenses are more complex and expensive and additionally, they produce more allergic problems and may cause more eye dryness than rigid lenses.

Hard Contact Lens

Advantages

  • Hard contact lenses are the second option of contact lenses available. These lenses have come a long way since the 1970s.
  • The two main types of hard lenses are conventional hard lenses (PMMA) and rigid gas-permeable lenses (RGP).
  • Hard contact lenses were made of a type of plastic called polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA).
  • Hard polymethyl methacrylate contact lenses were common. They did not allow for oxygen transfer to the cornea and often caused the cornea to swell. For this reason, hard contact lenses are obsolete.
  • Hard contact lenses today are known as rigid gas permeable contact lenses which allow for more flexibility and oxygen to pass through the lens to the cornea, while still maintaining their shape so they are always in focus.
  • Rigid gas permeable contacts are made out of stiff plastic that does not mold to your eye as soft contacts do, but they have a lot of other wonderful benefits.
  • Rigid gas permeable contacts have been known to help slow down the development of nearsightedness in young adults and adult contact lens wearers.
  • If you’ve been unsatisfied with soft contacts, consider trying RGP contact lenses instead.
  • They are a great option for wearers who have unique eye shapes that don’t adjust to soft contacts lens.
  • They are much more durable than soft lenses. Because they do not contain water, proteins and lipids do not adhere to them as they can do with soft lenses.
  • These contact lenses are extremely durable, easy to care for, handle and wear.
  • if they’re well cared for, they can last up to 2 to 3 years before needing to be replaced with just a little care
  • They are also great for those who suffer from dry eyes.
  • They offer clear, crisp vision and can correct most astigmatism.
  • RGP lenses also come in many bifocal and multifocal designs.
  • Relatively inexpensive compared to soft lenses.

Disadvantages

  • The biggest disadvantage of RGP lenses is that patients need to get used to them.
  • They are not immediately comfortable like soft lenses. RGP lenses take three to four days for patients to adapt to them.
  • They need to be worn regularly (although not every day) to achieve optimal comfort.
  • They are smaller in size so they can dislodge from the eye more easily than soft lenses.
  • Less initial comfort than soft lenses.
  • More susceptible to the intrusion of foreign objects under the lens, such as dust.
  • Can scratch and break.
  • Intermittent wear is less feasible because adaptation is required if a person takes an extended break from use.
  • Debris can get under the lens. 
  • there is a greater risk of gas permeable lenses dislodging from the eye during sports or other activities.
  • gas permeable lenses are designed to move on the eye when the wearer blinks, there is a higher risk of dust and debris getting under the lenses, causing discomfort or a possible abrasion to the cornea.

Tips for Wearing Soft Contact Lenses: 

    • Wash and dry your hands before putting them in and taking them out. 
    • Clean your case every day and let it dry. 
    • Clean, rinse, and disinfect them after every use. 
    • Always use the proper drops and solutions made for your soft contacts. 
    • Don’t wear them beyond their prescribed time. 

Tips for Wearing Hard Contact Lenses: 

    • Don’t wear them while swimming or showering. This can help reduce the chance of infection. 
    • Only use solutions and drops that are specifically made for RGP contacts. 
    • Once a week, use an enzymatic cleaner to get rid of any protein buildup on the contact. 
    • Clean and store them properly every night. 
    • Don’t wear them for weeks or days at a time without cleaning.