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What Should I Consider When Buying Contact Lenses?

Niki Foster
Updated May 17, 2024
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When buying contact lenses, you have a lot of choices to make. Today, there is a wide variety of contact lens types available, as well as a variety of purchase methods, including in person and over the Internet. It is important to make sure you are buying contact lenses from a source you can trust and that you purchase the best product for your needs.

The first thing to consider when buying contact lenses is whether you have a valid, up-to-date prescription. In the United States, prescriptions typically last for a year or two. If it has been longer than two years since your last eye exam, you should see your eye doctor before buying contact lenses in case your prescription may have changed.

If you are buying contact lenses for the first time, it is especially important to consult with your doctor to determine which type is best for you. Not only your vision issues, but the shape of your eyes and quantity of tears also have an effect on which contact lens type is best for you. Even if you are interested in purchasing non-prescription contact lenses simply to change your eye color, you should have them fitted by a doctor. Nowadays, contact lenses are very advanced and can correct nearly any vision problem, including myopia, presbyopia, and astigmatism. There are even bifocal contact lenses.

The material of the lens is a major consideration when buying contact lenses. There are three types: hard, soft, and gas permeable (GP). Hard lenses, made of Plexiglas or Lucite, are virtually obsolete. Soft lenses made from gel-like plastic are the most common and are easier to get used to than GP lenses. GP lenses are rigid, but oxygen-permeable, allowing the eye to breathe.

GP contact lenses are more durable than soft lenses and can last for years, and they provide more accurate vision. However, they are more difficult to get used to and require more maintenance as well. The choice between soft and GP lenses should be discussed with your doctor.

Another thing to consider when buying contact lenses is how long you wish to keep them in. Some contact lenses, called daily wear, must be removed nightly, while others can be worn for more extended periods of time. Extended wear lenses can be worn for about seven days, while continuous wear contacts can be worn for 30 consecutive days, after which they must be replaced. Daily lenses must be disposed of either daily or every two weeks, depending on which type you purchase.

WiseGEEK is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Niki Foster
By Niki Foster , Writer

In addition to her role as a WiseGEEK editor, Niki enjoys educating herself about interesting and unusual topics in order to get ideas for her own articles. She is a graduate of UCLA, where she majored in Linguistics and Anthropology.

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Niki Foster

Niki Foster


In addition to her role as a WiseGEEK editor, Niki enjoys educating herself about interesting and unusual topics ...

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