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Help: Contact Lenses

Classification

In this section we will discuss about the different classification of Contact Lenses. It can be classified in many different manners. Contact lenses can be separated by their primary function, material, wear schedule (how long a lens can be worn before removing it), and replacement schedule (how long before a lens needs to be discarded).

Primary Function

  • Corrective Contact Lenses
  • Corrective contact lenses are designed to improve vision, most commonly by correcting refractive error. It is mainly used to treat myopia, hyperopia, astigmatism, and presbyopia.

  • Cosmetic Contact Lenses
  • A cosmetic contact lens is designed to change the appearance of the eye. These lenses may also correct refractive error.

  • Therapeutic Contact Lenses
  • Soft lenses are often used in the treatment and management of non-refractive disorders of the eye. A bandage contact lens protects an injured or diseased cornea from the constant rubbing of blinking eyelids thereby allowing it to heal.

Materials

  • Rigid Lenses
  • A rigid lens is able to replace the natural shape of the cornea with a new refracting surface. This means that a spherical rigid contact lens can correct for astigmatism. Rigid lenses can also be made as a front-toric, back-toric, or bitoric. This is different from a spherical lens in that one or both surfaces of the lens deliver a toric correction.

  • Soft Lenses
  • Soft lenses are a much more recent development. Soft lenses are immediately comfortable, while rigid lenses require a period of adaptation before full comfort is achieved. The biggest improvements to soft lens polymers have been increasing oxygen permeability, lens wetability, and overall comfort.

  • Hybrid
  • A small number of hybrid lenses exist. Typically these lenses consist of a rigid center and a soft "skirt". A similar technique is "piggybacking" of a smaller, rigid lens on the surface of a larger, soft lens. These techniques give the vision corrections benefits of a rigid lens and the comfort benefits of a soft lens.

Wear Schedule

DW stands for daily wear contact lenses. It is designed to be worn for one day and removed prior to sleeping.

EW stands for extended wear contact lenses. An "extended wear" (EW) contact lens is designed for continuous overnight wear, typically for up to 6 consecutive nights. Newer materials, such as silicone hydrogels, allow for even longer wear periods of up to 30 consecutive nights; these longer-wear lenses are often referred to as "continuous wear" (CW). Extended and continuous wear contact lenses can be worn overnight because of their high oxygen permeability.

Replacement schedule

The various soft contact lenses available are often categorized by their replacement schedule. The shortest replacement schedule is single use (1-day or daily disposable) lenses which are disposed of each night. Shorter replacement cycle lenses are commonly thinner and lighter, due to lower requirements for durability against wear and tear, and may be the most comfortable in their respective class and generation.

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