The Difference Between Hybrid Lenses vs. GP Lenses vs. Disposable Soft Lenses
For people who don’t want to wear eyeglasses, contact lenses are a great alternative. There are many types of lenses on the market, and your eye care practitioner can help you make the best choice for you. Here is a closer look at the main categories of lenses to help you make an informed decision.
Hard contact lenses are also known as gas permeable lenses and rigid gas permeable lenses. While these lenses are rigid, they should not be confused with the hard contact lenses of decades past. Those were made of PMMA (polymethyl methacrylate), a type of plastic that, while lightweight and effective at correcting vision, did not allow oxygen or other gases to pass through. Modern gas permeable lenses represent a newer technology than soft lenses; they were first introduced in the late 1970s but have now become the go-to option for people who prefer a rigid lens. These lenses incorporate silicone, making them more flexible than old-fashioned hard lenses. They also allow oxygen through, making them more comfortable and keeping the eyes healthier.
GP lenses offer an impressive array of advantages over soft lenses. Because they are made of firm plastic, they retain their shape perfectly every time you blink. That means that they can provide sharper vision than soft lenses. They’re also more durable; they can still break, of course, but you can’t easily tear them the way you can soft lenses. They’re also made of materials that do not contain water, which means that lipids and proteins from your tears will not adhere to these lenses as much as they will to soft lenses.
So, why doesn’t everyone wear GP lenses? There are a few reasons they might not be someone’s first choice. For one thing, soft contact lenses are simply more comfortable – because they’re soft. GP lenses take time to get used to, and if you don’t wear them for a week or so, you’ll likely have to go through the adjustment process all over again. Also, GP lenses are designed to move on your eye when you blink, leading to a higher risk of dust or debris getting under the lens.
Disposable soft lenses
Disposable soft lenses are single-use contact lenses that are removed and discarded at the end of the day. A fresh pair is then reapplied in the morning. This type of lens is fast becoming a popular choice among eye care practitioners and patients alike because of their many conveniences and health benefits.
Keep in mind that “daily disposable” and “daily wear” lenses are two different things. Daily wear lenses are removed before sleep and replaced in the morning. These lenses might be replaced daily, weekly, monthly, or less often, depending on the brand. Also, “disposable” may not always mean single-use; you might hear daily wear lenses that are discarded every two weeks, for example, called disposable lenses. “Daily disposable” is a term that means that the lenses are discarded and replaced daily.
Why discard your lenses so frequently in the first place? Because it’s healthier and more comfortable for your eyes. Substances found in your tears such as calcium, lipids, and proteins can build up on your lenses over time, making your lenses less comfortable and your eyes more vulnerable to infection. In addition, daily disposable lenses are often thinner and cause less awareness while worn.
In spite of all the benefits of soft disposable lenses, they aren’t without faults. For example, they cost more, and they produce more waste, something that concerns people at an increasing rate as we all strive to do our part to protect the environment.
Hybrid lenses let you have it all: the visual acuity of gas permeable lenses with the comfort of soft lenses. Hybrid lenses are great for many patients with corneal astigmatism. These lenses come in many styles, including multifocal. A hybrid lens is designed with a rigid gas permeable center and a soft skirt, providing the comfort of a soft lens with the clear vision of a gas permeable lens. Good candidates for hybrid lenses include:
- Those with regular corneal astigmatism
- Those who have trouble with soft toric lens movement
- Those who have a combination of presbyopia and astigmatism
- Multifocal patients who want better vision than soft lenses can provide
- Those who want the visual sharpness of gas permeable lenses but don’t like the way they feel
Reasons that a person might not choose hybrid lenses include the additional time and expense of a diagnostic fitting and the extra training and education needed to use them correctly. However, many patients find that the benefits – crystal-clear vision, comfortable wear, and freedom from eyeglasses – far outweigh the minor potential drawbacks.