What are the types of contact lenses and definitions?

Contact Lenses

Contact Lenses – Necessary: When eyeglasses do not achieve the best visual potential, contact lenses may become necessary. This can be due to keratoconus, corneal trauma, or postsurgical irregularity in the corneal surface.

Contact Lenses – Elective: Many patients choose to wear contact lenses even though glasses achieve a full visual correction. This is considered an elective situation.

Contact Lens Options

Soft Contacts

  • Daily Wear: Lenses are worn during the day and removed each night to be cleaned and disinfected.
  • Extended Wear: Lenses are worn at night, but they must be removed for cleaning and disinfecting at least once a week.
  • Disposable: Lenses are worn during the day and removed at night. They don’t need to be cleaned or disinfected, but are used for the recommended time-frame and then discarded.

Rigid Contacts

  • Gas Permeable: Rigid lenses that, unlike “hard lenses” of the past, allow oxygen to pass through to the eye to keep it healthy. Gas permeable lenses provide better vision, durability, and deposit resistance than soft contact lenses.
  • Ortho-K: A type of lens used to reshape the cornea so that when removed, regular vision is improved, although the effect is temporary. These lenses are also referred to as “night time contacts.”

Specialized Contacts

  • Toric: Lenses are specially shaped and fitted to treat astigmatism.
  • Multifocal: Correct nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism.
  • Tinted: Contacts can be tinted, either for cosmetic or therapeutic purposes. An example of a therapeutic purpose is to enhance color perception to help compensate for color blindness.


What are frames?

Lenses provide function, and frames provide style. There are all kinds of frames on the market that vary in size, shape, and color. Some people prefer bigger, some smaller, but what is most important is that the frame works with the style of lens.

Members often request prescription safety glasses, sunglasses, or ski goggles. It is important for members to verify whether these items are covered under their specific plan benefits.

What are the types of lens options?

Lens Options

Glass:  Lenses that have great clarity and are more resistant to scratching, however, they are heavier. • Plastic: Lenses that are lighter weight and more comfortable, however they scratch more easily.

Progressive: Lenses that are line-free. The power gradually changes from distance correction to arm’s length to reading, moving invisibly from the top to the bottom of the lens. Standard progressive lenses use older technology, while premium progressive lenses use more current technology. Premium progressive lenses allow for a smoother blending in the lens as the prescription changes and may also provide clearer peripheral vision.

Plano: Lenses that do not have any correction and are often used for cosmetic purposes.

High-Index: Lenses that have a higher index of refraction, meaning light travels faster through the lens to reach the eye than with traditional glass or plastic. They are denser so the same amount of visual correction occurs with less material. This allows the lens to be thinner and look better cosmetically.

Polycarbonate: The most durable lens on the market. They are especially popular for children’s prescriptions and industrial safety glasses because of the protection they provide against breakage.

Photochromic: Lenses that change from light to dark depending on the intensity of ultraviolet light exposure. This option is often sold under the “Transitions” brand.

Polarized: Lenses that reduce the glare from water and other flat surfaces making the outdoor experience more pleasant and easier on the eye. Boaters and fishermen appreciate this type of lens.

UV Protection: A treatment is applied to lenses to block the harmful portion of ultraviolet light in sunlight.

Scratch-Resistance: A coating applied to plastic lenses to increase their resistance to scratching and pitting. While no lens is ever entirely “scratchproof,” a scratch-resistant coating reduces the chance of lens scratching.

Anti-Reflective: A coating applied to lenses to reduce the intensity of reflections. Bright lights from cars or computer screens, for example, are minimized. They also reduce the intensity of reflections that other people see on the front surface of the lenses so they are more cosmetically appealing.

Solid Tints and Dyes: Lenses with solid color tints and dyes have the same color density throughout. Plastic lenses can be dyed, while tinted glass lenses are made from colored glass. These options may be selected for cosmetic purposes or to reduce the amount of light coming through the lenses.

Plastic Gradient Dyes: Lenses with plastic gradient dyes are usually dark at the top and gradually lighten toward the bottom of the lens. This option is typically for cosmetic purposes.

High-Luster Edge Polish: Glass and plastic lens edges can be polished to a high luster resulting in clear and shiny lens edges. This option is often selected with rimless frames to disguise the edges of the lenses, especially with thicker lenses.