The Ins and Outs of Prescription Contact Lens Selection and Care

Defining Prescription Contact Lenses

Prescription contact lenses are specialized medical devices designed with the primary purpose of correcting various vision problems. These issues include myopia, hyperopia, astigmatism, and presbyopia. Unlike standard or decorative contact lenses, prescription lenses are customized for each individual’s unique needs, ensuring the provision of the necessary vision correction. They offer a multitude of materials, types, and wearing schedules, catering to diverse preferences and requirements.

Prescription contact lenses can be broadly classified into several types, each with its distinct features and benefits:

  • Soft Contact Lenses: These lenses are crafted from flexible, water-containing plastics, making them comfortable and pliable. They are an ideal choice for first-time wearers due to their ease of adaptation. Soft contact lenses are available in both daily disposable and extended wear options, providing flexibility to suit individual lifestyles.
  • Rigid Gas Permeable (RGP) Lenses: Made from more durable, firm materials, RGP lenses maintain their shape while worn. Though they may require a slightly longer adaptation period, they typically offer sharper vision and can be more breathable than soft contact lenses, making them a suitable option for some users.

Both soft and rigid gas permeable lenses come in various designs and modalities, such as daily wear, extended wear, and disposable lenses. In addition, they are available with multifocal or bifocal prescriptions to address presbyopia, which is the age-related decline in near vision.

Understanding the Importance of Proper Eye Exams for Prescription Contact Lenses

To achieve optimal vision correction and comfort with prescription contact lenses, it is essential to undergo a comprehensive eye examination. These exams are not only necessary for determining the appropriate prescription but also for assessing the overall health of the eyes and identifying any potential issues that may affect contact lens wear.

Contact Lens Prescription: Beyond Just Numbers

A contact lens prescription is more intricate than the numbers listed for distance and near vision. It includes vital information such as the base curve, diameter, and lens type specific to the individual’s unique eye shape and needs. This detailed prescription ensures that the lenses fit properly and provide the necessary correction without causing discomfort or harm to the eyes.

One significant aspect to consider is that the prescription for glasses and contact lenses may differ. This is because the distance between the eyes and the lenses is different for each type of eyewear. Therefore, a separate prescription is necessary for contact lenses to provide accurate vision correction.

Eye Health: The Foundation for Safe Contact Lens Wear

During an eye exam, the optometrist will check for common eye conditions like cataracts, glaucoma, macular degeneration, and diabetic retinopathy. These examinations are crucial before prescribing contact lenses because certain eye conditions may contraindicate contact lens use or require specialized lenses.

Corneal Health is Key: The cornea, the transparent front part of the eye, is integral to the successful wearing of contact lenses. The optometrist will evaluate the cornea’s shape, health, and tear film to ensure it can safely support contact lens wear. Any irregularities or eye diseases could affect the prescription and type of lenses recommended.

Contact Lens Fitting: Tailoring the Lenses to the Individual

After the prescription for corrective power is determined, the fitting process begins. This includes selecting the appropriate contact lens based on the curvature of the cornea and the size of the iris and pupil. The optometrist may try several different lenses to find the best fit for the patient’s eyes, taking into account their lifestyle and the expected wearing schedule.

The Importance of Follow-Up Exams: Even after the initial fitting, regular follow-up exams are essential to monitor the eyes’ health and the lenses’ performance. The eyes’ shape can change over time, and periodic evaluations help ensure that the prescription remains accurate and that the lenses are not causing any complications.

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Evaluation of the sale of prescription contact lenses at retail pharmacies and medical supplies stores:

Prescription contact lenses require a prescription from an eye care professional, such as an ophthalmologist or optometrist. They are typically sold in retail pharmacies and medical supplies stores, as well as in specialized optometry clinics or vision centers. The sales process for prescription contact lenses usually involves several steps:

Contact lens selection and fitting

Before purchasing prescription contact lenses, individuals must undergo a thorough eye examination to determine the appropriate lens type, strength, and fit. During the evaluation process, eye care professionals may use various diagnostic tools and techniques such as:

  • Refraction test: This is a standard test for determining the appropriate prescription for corrective lenses. The eye care professional will assess the patient’s vision and adjust the lenses until the patient’s vision is clear.
  • Keratometry: This is a test to measure the curvature of the cornea and assess the extent of any astigmatism. This is particularly important for patients who require toric contact lenses.
  • Tear film evaluation: The health and stability of the tear film on the ocular surface are crucial for successful contact lens wear. An assessment will identify any issues or concerns with the tear film that may impact lens comfort or wearability.
  • Pupil measurement: This helps the eye care professional determine the size of the patient’s pupils in low light or dark conditions, which may impact lens choice and fit.

Purchasing prescription contact lenses

Once the contact lens evaluation is complete, and the eye care professional has determined the appropriate prescription, the patient can purchase the contact lenses at the retail pharmacy or medical supplies store. The store will typically require a valid prescription from the eye care professional. In many cases, patients can also purchase prescription contact lenses directly from the optometry clinic or vision center, where they received their eye examination and fitting.

The cost of prescription contact lenses varies depending on the type, brand, and wearing schedule chosen. Some stores may offer discounts or promotions for bulk purchases or rewards programs for returning customers. It is essential to compare prices and check for any applicable discounts or promotions before making a final purchase.

Proper contact lens care and maintenance

Purchasing prescription contact lenses is just the beginning of the journey to maintaining clear and comfortable vision. Proper care and maintenance are crucial for successful use of contact lenses. This includes:

  • Regularly cleaning and disinfecting contact lenses as recommended by the eye care professional or manufacturer.
  • Using only sterile saline solution and contact lens disinfecting solution recommended by the eye care professional or manufacturer.
  • Regularly cleaning and replacing contact lens cases to prevent contamination and infection.
  • Avoiding the use of water or other liquids to clean or store contact lenses.

Regular follow-up appointments with the eye care professional are essential to ensure continued safe and effective use of prescription contact lenses. They will help monitor the patient’s vision, fit, and overall eye health, and make adjustments as necessary.

Type of Prescription Contact Lenses Advantages Disadvantages
Soft Contact Lenses Comfortable, easy to adjust to, and come in a variety of wearing schedules May require more frequent replacement, less durable than RGP lenses, and offer less sharp vision correction
Rigid Gas Permeable (RGP) Lenses Long-lasting and provide sharp vision correction, less likely to cause dry eye symptoms Less comfortable, may require longer adjustment period, and more difficult to insert or remove

For more information on prescription contact lenses, visit the American Optometric Association’s website. Additionally, the Centre for Ocular Research & Education offers cutting-edge research and education on contact lens materials, care, and fitting techniques.

Types of Prescription Contact Lenses

Prescription contact lenses come in various types, each designed to address specific vision issues and preferences. This section will discuss the two primary categories of prescription contact lenses: soft contact lenses and rigid gas permeable (RGP) lenses.

Soft Contact Lenses

Soft contact lenses are the most commonly used type of prescription lenses. They are made of soft, flexible plastic materials that allow oxygen to pass through to the eye. This design makes them comfortable to wear for extended periods and adapts well to different eye shapes. Listed below are the different types of soft contact lenses:

  • Daily Disposable: As the name suggests, daily disposable lenses are worn for a single day and then discarded. They provide convenience and reduce the risk of infection since there is no need for daily cleaning.
  • Two-Weekly Disposable: These lenses are designed to be worn for two weeks and then replaced. They require daily cleaning and storage in a disinfecting solution to maintain hygiene.
  • Monthly Disposable: Monthly disposable lenses are worn for 30 days before being replaced. They also require daily cleaning and storage in a disinfecting solution to ensure proper hygiene.
  • Extended Wear: Extended wear lenses can be worn continuously for several days or weeks without removal, depending on the brand and prescription. These lenses often have a high oxygen permeability to maintain eye health during extended wear.
  • Toric Lenses: Designed for individuals with astigmatism, toric lenses are specially shaped to align with the curvature of the eye, providing clear vision at all distances.
  • Multifocal Lenses: Multifocal lenses are designed for people with presbyopia who need correction for near, intermediate, and distance vision. They often come in a “progressive” design where the prescription gradually changes as the eye moves down the lens.
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Rigid Gas Permeable (RGP) Contact Lenses

RGP contact lenses, despite being made of a harder material, are still gas permeable, allowing oxygen to pass through to the eye. This type of lens is often more durable than soft lenses and can provide sharper vision for certain eye conditions. Some advantages of RGP lenses include:

Understanding Soft Contact Lenses

Soft contact lenses are a popular type of prescription contact lenses widely used to correct a variety of vision problems, including myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), astigmatism, and presbyopia (age-related loss of near vision). They are made of soft, flexible, and water-containing materials, making them comfortable to wear, particularly for first-time wearers. The main components of soft contact lenses are water and a hydrogel or silicone hydrogel material, which allows oxygen to pass through the lens to the eye (oxygen permeability), enhancing the eye’s health and reducing the risk of complications.

Advantages of Soft Contact Lenses

  • Comfortable to wear due to their soft, flexible, and water-containing materials
  • Easier to adjust to, especially for first-time wearers
  • Quick adaptation to the eye’s shape
  • More forgiving to insertion and removal errors

Disadvantages of Soft Contact Lenses

  • Less durable than rigid gas permeable (RGP) lenses
  • Require more frequent replacement, which can be more expensive in the long run
  • Less stable on the eye, which may reduce vision quality in some individuals

Types of Soft Contact Lenses

There are several types of soft contact lenses available to cater to different needs and preferences, including:

  1. Daily Disposable Lenses: These lenses are designed to be worn for a single day and then discarded. They offer convenience and minimal handling, reducing the risk of infection and complications.
  2. Two-week and Monthly Disposable Lenses: These lenses are designed to be worn for two weeks or a month, respectively, before replacement. Proper cleaning and disinfection are necessary to maintain eye health and avoid complications.
  3. Extended Wear Lenses: Some soft contact lenses are approved for extended wear, which means they can be worn continuously, including overnight, for several days or weeks before removal, cleaning, and replacement. However, they may still necessitate regular eye exams and proper lens care to ensure optimal eye health.
  4. Toric Lenses: These specialized lenses are designed for people with astigmatism and provide clear vision by maintaining a stable position on the eye, correcting for the difference in the curvature of the cornea.
  5. Multifocal or Bifocal Lenses: These lenses can correct vision problems related to myopia, hyperopia, and presbyopia in one lens. They have multiple focal points, enabling the wearer to see clearly at various distances.
  6. Cosmetic Lenses: Also known as colored or costume contact lenses, these lenses temporarily change the color and appearance of the wearer’s eyes. They are still classified as medical devices and require prescriptions.

Tips for Contact Lens Care

Proper care and hygiene practices are essential for soft contact lens wearers to maintain healthy eyes and avoid complications. Here are some tips for cleaning and caring for soft contact lenses:

  • Always wash and dry your hands before handling your lenses.
  • Use a suitable contact lens solution recommended by your eye care professional for cleaning, disinfecting, and rinsing your lenses.
  • Avoid using tap water or saliva to clean your contact lenses, as water may contain microorganisms that can cause infections.
  • Replace your contact lenses as recommended by your eye care professional to avoid protein and lipid build-up that may harm your eyes.
  • Attend all scheduled follow-up appointments with your eye care professional to monitor your eye health and ensure your contact lenses remain appropriate for your vision needs.

Characteristics of Soft Contact Lenses

Soft contact lenses are one of the most popular types of prescription contact lenses, favored by both eye care professionals and wearers for their comfort and ease of use. They are made of soft, water-containing polymers called hydrogels, which create a flexible and breathable lens. There are several characteristics that make soft contact lenses different from other types, such as rigid gas permeable (RGP) lenses.


Soft contact lenses are made from a material known as hydrogel, which allows oxygen to pass through to the cornea. This helps maintain proper eye health and prevent complications such as hypoxia, a condition in which the eye does not receive adequate oxygen. In contrast, RGP lenses are made from more rigid materials and may not provide the same level of oxygen transmissibility.

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One of the main benefits of soft contact lenses is their comfort. The water content in the hydrogel material makes the lenses soft and pliable, allowing them to conform to the eye’s shape easily. This can help reduce the risk of irritation and discomfort caused by rubbing against the eyelid or other parts of the eye.

Discomfort minimization

Soft lenses are less likely to cause discomfort than RGP lenses, as the hydrogel material absorbs and retains moisture to keep the eye comfortable throughout the day. This can be particularly beneficial for people with dry eyes or allergies, as the extra moisture can help reduce irritation.


Soft contact lenses are widely available in a variety of prescriptions, making them suitable for most individuals with vision problems. They are also available in different wearing schedules, such as daily wear, extended wear, or extended-wear disposable lenses. Additionally, soft lenses come in toric and multifocal designs to correct astigmatism and presbyopia, respectively.

Ease of use

Compared to RGP lenses, soft lenses are easier to insert, remove, and adjust. This reduced learning curve is one reason why many people prefer soft contact lenses, particularly for first-time wearers.

Soft contact lenses are popular among individuals with vision problems because of their numerous benefits such as comfort, convenience, and availability. While it is crucial to consult an eye care professional to determine the most suitable prescription contact lens type for your specific needs, soft contact lenses provide an excellent option for many people seeking an effective and comfortable vision correction solution.

Choosing the Right Prescription Contact Lenses

When it comes to selecting the right prescription contact lenses, there are several factors to consider to ensure optimal vision correction and comfort. It is essential to consult with an eye care professional to make an informed decision, as they can provide expert guidance based on your specific needs. Here are some key aspects to consider when choosing your prescription contact lenses:

Eye Examination and Prescription

A comprehensive eye examination is the first step in obtaining the correct prescription contacts. During this exam, an eye care professional will perform tests to measure your eye’s health, refractive errors, and also assess for any underlying eye conditions.

Types of Prescription Contact Lenses

There are various types of prescription contact lenses, and they cater to different needs and preferences. Some of the most common types include:

  • Soft Contact Lenses: These are made of soft, flexible plastic that allows oxygen to pass through to the cornea. They are ideal for people with active lifestyles, as they tend to be more comfortable and easier to adjust to. Soft contact lenses come in various wearing schedules—daily, weekly, or monthly.
  • Rigid Gas Permeable (RGP) Contact Lenses: These lenses are made of harder, more durable materials that retain their shape better. They provide sharper vision and can be easier to handle than soft contacts. RGP lenses can also be used for some astigmatism and keratoconus cases.
  • Hybrid Contact Lenses: As the name suggests, hybrid lenses are a combination of soft and RGP lenses. They provide the crisp vision of RGP lenses and the comfort of soft lenses. Hybrid lenses are often recommended for people with high astigmatism or irregular corneas.
  • Bifocal or Multifocal Contact Lenses: These lenses are specifically designed for presbyopia, an age-related eye condition where it becomes difficult to focus on nearby objects. Bifocal lenses have different prescriptions in each lens, while multifocal lenses incorporate multiple prescriptions throughout the lens for seamless vision transitions.

Lens Design and Material

The design and material of your prescription contact lenses may significantly impact your experience. For example, silicone hydrogel lenses offer increased comfort due to their high oxygen permeability. Other factors, such as lens curvature and water content, may also play a role in your selection process.

Wearing Schedule

Contact lenses can be classified into daily, weekly, or monthly disposable schedules. Daily disposable lenses are discarded at the end of each day, providing fresh lenses daily for optimal comfort. Weekly and monthly lenses must be cleaned and cared for to maintain hygiene, but they tend to be more cost-effective in the long run.

Handling and Care

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

Proper care and handling of your contact lenses are essential to maintain eye health and prevent infections. Be sure to follow the specific guidelines provided for the lenses you choose, including cleaning, disinfecting, and storage instructions.

Cost and Insurance

Contact lenses can vary in cost depending on the type, brand, and wearing schedule. It’s important to discuss your options with your eye care professional, as well as investigate your insurance coverage for contact lenses, as some plans may provide discounts or reimbursements.

In conclusion, selecting the right prescription contact lenses is an important decision that requires careful consideration of various factors. Consulting with your eye care professional and considering your specific visual needs, preferences, and lifestyle will help ensure the best possible outcome for your vision correction journey.

For more information and resources, visit the following authoritative sites:

Always consult with a doctor or another qualified healthcare professional before making any decisions related to your health.

Category: Eye Health

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