What are soft contact lenses made of
Contact lenses: which material for which application?
In the early days of contact lenses, the question of materials was still quite simple: The hard lenses at that time were made of glass or later made of Plexiglas - both highly sensitive, hardly permeable to oxygen and anything but comfortable ... The first soft contact lenses made of the plastic HEMA, which were released in 1971 Came on the market, represented a revolution in the industry. Finally there were thin, softer lenses that could adapt to the eye and were comfortable to wear! A lot has happened in the contact lens market since that revolution in the early 1970s.
In this article you will learn
- what modern form stable and soft contact lenses are made of
- what constitutes the individual materials in detail and
- Which material is best suited for which needs.
Oxygen & comfort
Dimensionally stable (hard) lenses are now mostly made from fluorosilicone methacrylate copolymers. Compared to the past, they are much more permeable to oxygen, more flexible and more robust. Hard contact lenses can only absorb a minimal amount of liquid, which makes the lens very stable. In terms of comfort and ease of use, soft contact lenses have prevailed over the dimensionally stable version, which is now available in many different designs and with a wide variety of wearing times - from daily to monthly to annual lenses. By the way, you can find out here what differentiates dimensionally stable and soft contact lenses in detail.
Water on: hydrogel
Even modern soft contact lenses are still made of plastic. With hydrogel lenses, however, there is also a lot of liquid: These hydrogels consist of hydrophilic (liquid-permeable) polymer plastics and up to 80 percent liquid.
Combination lens: silicone hydrogel
In the 1990s, silicone became popular in contact lens production. Contact lenses, in which hydrogels are combined with silicone, have a lower liquid content and are nevertheless extremely permeable to oxygen due to the silicone content.
High-tech lens: Hypergel
Hypergel contact lenses, which combine the advantages of hydrogel and silicone hydrogel lenses, are new. At 78 percent, their fluid content corresponds exactly to that of the cornea, they are as thin as hydrogel lenses, they should be as comfortable to wear as silicone hydrogel lenses and not dry out despite being worn for a long time.
Contact lenses: which material for which needs?
- SOFT HYDROGEL CONTACT LENSES with a high water content are good for wearing during the day - since the water content of the lens can evaporate over time, they are not recommended for very long periods of wear or are not always well tolerated by dry eyes. However, lens wearers who quickly suffer from foreign body sensations in the eye often swear by hydrogel contact lenses, as these are thinner and often more comfortable to wear due to the high water content.
- SILICONE HYDROGEL CONTACT LENSES can generally remain in the eye longer than pure hydrogel lenses and are usually well tolerated by people with dry eyes. However, they are a little stiffer and stronger than hydrogel lenses and can cause irritation and foreign body sensations in sensitive eyes or are more easily damaged.
- HYPERGEL CONTACT LENSES are often recommended for people with dry, sensitive eyes or for those who want to wear their contact lenses for a long time.
Nevertheless: There is no general answer as to which lens is best for whom! The choice of material depends on the one hand on the conditions and the sensitivity of the eye, on the other hand also on the personal preferences and lifestyle of the wearer - in other words, when, where and for how long are the contact lenses worn? At work in front of the screen, on night shifts, during sports or just now and then on vacation as an alternative to glasses?
When choosing the right lens, the contact lens fitter is available to help and advise - there you will first be given extensive advice and the contact lens will be precisely adapted to the conditions of the eye (you will find out exactly what happens during a contact lens fitting in this article) before you do Then you can try out various types of contact lenses in peace and quiet and find out together which one is best.
Lead photo: © Pixabay / Pexels
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