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Variety of Lenses and Their Effects on Eyes

Do you need corrective lenses? Approximately 11 million people over 12 years old in the U.S. need vision correction, so if your doctor tells you that you need glasses or contact lenses, you’re not alone. Once you know you need vision correction, you’ll have to decide between glasses and contact lenses, and your doctor can help you determine which option is right for you. What you may not realize, though, is that there’s a wide variety of types of lenses within the categories of eyeglasses and contacts.

Corrective eyewear helps correct problems like nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism, and presbyopia. If you decide to wear eyeglasses, the type of lens you’ll need will be based on your particular vision problem. Lenses for nearsightedness, for example, have a concave lens, which curves inward, while farsightedness requires a convex lens, which curves outward. For astigmatism, your doctor will prescribe a cylinder-shaped lens, and presbyopia requires bifocal or multifocal lenses.

Some lenses are single-vision lenses, such as the lenses for reading glasses. You can buy reading glasses over the counter, but your doctor can give you a more accurate prescription. Other types of glasses can have multifocal lenses, which correct more than one vision problem. For instance, bifocal lenses have two sections. The upper section helps with seeing things in the distance, while the lower is for near vision. Trifocal lenses have the third section as well, for help with seeing things within arm’s reach. Your doctor might also prescribe progressive lenses, which focus progressively closer as you look down through your glasses. Progressive lenses are similar to bifocals or trifocals, but they don’t have visible lines between the different types of lenses.  Another type of multifocal lens is computer glasses, which are made to help people avoid eye strain while focusing on a computer screen.

Eyeglasses are made of different types of materials. While they used to be made of glass, they’re now typically made of plastic. This makes them lighter, thinner, and sturdier, and they can be treated with a UV filter. The cost of your glasses will vary based on the type of lens and the frames you select.

Contact lenses are slightly more complicated than eyeglasses. There are soft lenses, made of water-containing plastics called hydrogels, and there are also silicone hydrogel lenses, which are more popular because they allow more oxygen to get to the cornea. Gas permeable (GP or RGP) lenses are rigid contact lenses and so are polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA) lenses, but the difference between the two is that PMMA lenses don’t transmit oxygen to the eye, so they’re hard to get used to. Rigid contact lenses tend to offer better optical quality, but hydrogel lenses are more comfortable. There are also hybrid lenses, which combine the two for a more comfortable fit with better optics. They’re more difficult to fit than other lenses, though, and can be more expensive.

There’s also the matter of daily wear contacts versus extended wear, which differ in the time limit of how long you can wear them. Daily wear contacts must be removed every night, while extended wear can be worn overnight and for more than one day. Some daily wear contacts must be discarded after you’ve worn them for a day, while other lenses can wait to be replaced every two weeks, or monthly, or sometimes after six months or even longer. Gas permeable lenses don’t need to be replaced as often as soft lenses. It’s important to use the appropriate lens care kit to clean, disinfect and store your glasses.

Whether you need new glasses, contact lenses, or just an eye exam, trust Boulder Eye Surgeons to care for your eyes. Having served Boulder, Colorado, and the surrounding area since 1997, Boulder Eye Surgeons utilizes state-of-the-art technology to provide comprehensive medical and surgical eye care. We’re committed to enhancing the quality of life through exceptional patient care, and our doctors and staff members are second to none. Request an appointment with our community-oriented practice to learn how we work to understand your needs and exceed your expectations, call us at (303) 943-1483, or contact us through our website.


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