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Hard or Soft Contact Lenses - What's the difference?

Did you know that contact lenses were actually first dreamt up by Leonardo Da Vinci in 1508 and then the idea was subsequently passed down through several people, including Renee Descartes the French philosopher and physicist before becoming the product that we see today? In fact it wasn't until four decades after the initial spark of genius in 1978 that the first designs were approved for mass production and sale in local opticians all over America. If you tried a pair of contact lenses when they first came out then you'll be aware of how uncomfortable they were to begin with, initially people only had a choice of thick uncomfortable hard lenses that would dry out quickly and required a 2 stage cleaning system to get rid of protein build ups. Today we still have hard contacts, but they are reserved for people who want long wear lenses, those with certain eye muscle disorders who require bifocals. But what's the difference between these two types of contacts and which type should you buy?

What are hard and soft contact lenses?

Hard contact lenses - Made from a ridged silicone polymers material which is durable and also allows air to flow through its surface delivering oxygen to the surface of your eyes. Hard contacts are more difficult to tear and can last anywhere from 1 to 5 years before they need replacing, this also means that they can keep their shape and stay in position while on your eyes surface. The downside to this type of lens is that it might take some time to get used to in the beginning because of the hard surface rubbing against your eye. Hard contacts can actually be used to correct an eyesight problem over time, that's why opticians usually reserve them for people with particular eye sight conditions rather than for regular use on mild cases of long or short sightedness.

Soft contact lenses - These days' soft contacts are much more popular than hard ones for a number of reasons; first of all they are much cheaper and can be bought in a variety of different length types, from daily disposables to monthly replaceable lenses. Soft contacts are made from a plastic polymer that has been mixed with wetting agents to produce a very moisture rich material perfect for wearing on your eyes surface. Soft contacts are also much cheaper than hard ones and are perfect for anyone with particularly dry eyes or who lives in cold dry climates. Though soft contacts are easier to slide into place on your eye, you must be more careful with them because the material they are made from is quite fragile and prone to sudden tears. Another disadvantage to soft contacts is their tendency to slip around when worn, though this usually automatically corrects its self it can become more uncomfortable in dry weather, one way to deal with this is to keep a bottle of lens cleaner drops in your pocket.

Taking care of your contact lenses

No matter which type of lens you choose in the end or whether you have year long replaceable types or daily disposables, making sure that you clean them well before you put them in your eyes is vital for your eyes well being. Don't forget these necessary steps for keeping a clean pair of contacts:

  • Don't forget to clean your hands with mild bathroom soaps before you put in or take out your contacts. This might sound obvious, but trust me it can easily be forgotten at times; also rinse and dry your hands properly because those soaps with perfumes or oils can leave a thin layer on your fingertips.

  • Keep your nails cut short and left clean at the edges; a small sharp piece of nail can cut the surface of your eyeball and cause an infection later down the line. If you have long nails that you don't want to get rid of, simply use only the surface of your fingers to slide the contacts on to your pupil.

  • If you wear makeup it' a good idea to apply facial products after you put in your contacts, this will reduce the risk of getting oils sandwiched between your eyes surface and the contact lens.

  • Never use tap water to wash or store your contact lenses; this can happen on several occasions, especially if you travel a lot. To avoid this get into the habit of keeping a small bottle of multi-purpose cleaning solution with you everywhere you go.


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