What Are The Best Contacts Lenses For First Time Users?
There are so many different types of contact lenses available on the market today, it can be a difficult choice to make. It's even harder for a first time contact lens wearer, since there is no previous experience to work with. With dozens of terms, materials, and practices to learn, where is someone supposed to begin?
Soft Contact Lenses Are The Most Comfortable
There are three main types of contact lenses, Soft, Rigid gas permeable and Hybrid, soft contact lenses are by far the most universally fitted unless there is an underling reason why someone would not be suited to soft lenses or require the specific benefits of GP or Hybrid lenses.
As a first time wearer, you will almost definitely be fitted with soft contact lenses, these are by far the most comfortable, easiest and quickest to get use to and healthiest options, that probably helps explains why 87% of contact lens fitted around the world are soft lenses and a huge 97% of UK contact lens wearers are prescribed soft contact lenses.
If you've never had a lens placed directly on your eye before, it can feel very unusual at first and you may find you blink more often, but it shouldn't be irritating or uncomfortable. Soft contact lenses usually don't take very long to get use to, and for most people, in just a few days they can't feel them at all while wearing them, they also have the benefit of allowing a full days wear in just a few days. By comparison, even seasoned contact lens veterans may need several weeks to achieve similar results from rigid lenses.
The Option Of Contact Lenses For First Times Wearers
Not only do contact lenses come in three types they come in a variety of wearing schedules
- 2 Weekly
- Continuous wear
Daily contact lenses are worn during the day and removed and disposed of each evening. The recommended wearing time is between 10-12 hours but many people successfully wear daily lenses for up to 16 hours per day.
2 Weekly contact lenses are designed to be worn during the day, removed each night, cleaned in a specialised cleaning and soaking solution and stored overnight for next day wear. After two weeks the lenses are disposed of.
Monthly contact lenses are very similar to two weekly lenses the are worn daily, removed, cleaned as stored over night ready for next day wear, they are disposed of after 30 wears.
Continuous wear contact lenses are worn continuously for up to one month (for some wearers just 1 or 2 weeks may be recommended) then discarded for a new pair - these are sometimes called extended wear lenses which probably describes them better as you cannot wear them continuously, they do need replacing.
Daily Contact Lenses - The First Choice Of Contact Lenses
The chances are that as a first time contact lens wearer you will be fitted daily contact lenses, according to the Association of British Dispensing Opticians (ABDO) they account for 65% of the UK contact lens market. Not only are they convenient and comfortable, what wins over the Optometrist and Dispensing Optician is that they are the healthiest option for contact lens wearer.
Daily disposable contact lenses -
are replaced each and every day so you don't have to worry about cleaning and storing your lenses every night, or worry about protein build-up that accumulates on lenses over time. Because there is so much to learn when you are first starting out, it's nice to have one less thing to worry about.
For new wearers, it's a good idea to only wear your new lenses for a few hours at a time for the first few days, building up slowly to a full days worth of time. This provides the added benefit of getting to practice the inserting and removing the lenses. It might be awkward at first, and may take several minutes at a time, but eventually you will be able to insert and remove them in seconds.
There is a downside to daily lenses and this is what puts a lot of new wearers off and that's the cost! Daily Contact lenses are traditionally more expensive than monthly wear lenses however, there are many new cheaper daily lenses entering the market place, when you factor in that you are saving money on solutions and care products these daily contacts can actually work out cheaper than monthly lenses.
Monthly and 2 weekly replacement contact lenses -
are a great option too, they can be cheaper than dailies and with the addition of silicon hydrogel they are healthy for your eyes to. They do take up more of your time with cleaning and storing so if you have an active lifestyle they may not be the best choice for you. On the positive side, because you only use 8 or 16 lenses per month instead of 60 with dailies they are better for the environment.
Extended wear lenses -
you can wear them for up to a month at a time (day and night) and replace them at the end of the month. So no solutions or cases - although a lot of eye care professionals recommend that you remove them overnight once a week and clean and store them. It gives your eyes a break. Extended wear contact lenses are probably the best contact lenses for the environment, you only wear and hence dispose of 1 pair per month, there is no solution so both manufacturing cost and packaging is the lowest too.
Ultimately the best choice of contact lens is the one that fits your needs, lifestyle and budget. If you have trouble deciding, your eye care professional will be glad to help you, to find an contact lens fitter near you check out the BCLA's handy search tool.
Which Contact Lens Is Best For You?
Ultimately the best choice of contact lens is the one that fits your needs, lifestyle and budget, you may find you start out with one type them move over to another.
If you have trouble deciding, discuss your needs with your Optometrist who will be glad to help, to find an contact lens fitter near you check out the BCLA's handy search tool.
Remember than contacts are designed to fit your eye, and that not all lenses are the same. If a lens that you wear feels uncomfortable or irritating, stop wearing it. At best it’s going to be an annoying distraction, and at worst it could cause serious injury to your eye. Discuss how the lenses feel with your eye doctor, and he or she may be able to determine the problem and suggest a better fitting lens.
Author: John Dreyer Optometrist Bsc(Hons), MCOPTOM, DipCLP
Created: 11 Sep 2016, Last modified: 14 Jan 2021