According to a recent study, an estimated 45 million people in the United States wear contact lenses. Whether you are thinking of wearing contacts or you already wear contact lenses, it’s important to understand how they work, the different types of lenses, and what potential complications they bring.

How Contact Lenses Work

Most people know what contact lenses are, but have you ever thought about how they actually work? Similar to glasses, contact lenses alter the direction of light rays to focus light properly onto the retina. Depending on whether you are nearsighted or farsighted, contact lenses diverge or converge light rays to correct your eyes’ focusing power.

Types of Contact Lenses

The two main types of contact lenses are hard (more commonly referred to as Rigid Gas Permeable or RGP contacts) and soft. Their names present a pretty clear idea of the difference between the two.

RGP contact lenses are made of a durable plastic, making them last longer than soft contact lenses. One pair of RGP contact lenses, if properly cared for, can last for years. Although they take longer than soft contacts to feel comfortable in your eye, they are comfortable after a week or two of consistent wear. RGP contact lenses may be the best contact option for individuals with certain astigmatisms, presbyopia, keratoconus, and other eye conditions.

Soft contact lenses are made out of hydrophilic plastics called hydrogels. The amount of water content a soft contact has will affect its thickness. Unlike GRP contacts, they generally feel comfortable in your eye very quickly. Within the soft contact lens category, there types of contacts that are made for daily wear, bi-weekly wear, and monthly wear.

Possible Complications from Contact Lenses

While contacts have come a long way since they were first invented, it is still important to be aware of the possible complications and risk factors of wearing contact lenses. From more common risks like eye infections to rare but serious risks like blindness, knowing the symptoms of these risks can help you identify complications before they are serious.

Eye Infections: Not properly caring for your contact lenses can lead to eye infections. Serious eye infections that can lead to blindness affect up to 1 out of every 500 contact lens users per year.

Keratitis: A painful eye infection, often linked to improper contact lens use, leads to 1 million doctor and hospital visits annually.

Properly caring for your contact lenses can reduce the risk of complications and eye infections. It is important to rinse your contact lenses with fresh saline solution daily, to replace the saline solution in your lens container daily, and to replace your contacts as directed.

Contact lenses are a convenient alternative to glasses and provide a lot of benefits to users. If you are considering contact lenses, the doctors at Broberg Eye Care would love to talk with you and answer any questions you may have. If you already wear contact lenses but have questions or concerns on proper care or any symptoms you are experiencing, please schedule an appointment at Broberg Eye Care.