If you’re someone who lives outside of the 20/20 vision zone, prescription eyewear is everything. But choosing the right eyewear to suit your lifestyle can take some time.
To begin with, you have two main choices when it comes to enhancing your vision: eyeglasses or contact lenses. For some, it’s an easy decision. For others, it can take some trial and error to find what they like best. Both have pros and cons. And comfort and fashion also play a big role.
But, when it comes to the contacts vs glasses debate, is one better for your eyes than the other? Let’s take a closer look at…
Contacts vs Glasses
Glasses are suitable for all ages and are most definitely the easiest corrective eyewear to use. They’re easy to clean and can be a less expensive alternative, as they don’t need to be replaced as often. If you’re nearsighted, and you have trouble seeing long distances, you can easily take your glasses off when you want to read a book or get on your computer. Glasses can also be a great fashion statement.
Here are some more pros for wearing glasses, and a few cons you might want to consider:
- There’s no need to touch your eyes, which reduces the chances of irritation or infection.
- You can easily have your prescription changed and keep the same frames (which also keeps costs down).
- Glasses allow more oxygen to reach your eye, so they won’t contribute to “dry eyes” like contacts can.1
- They can offer some protection from your environment by keeping dust and debris out of your eyes.
- They can be easily removed and put back on.
- Glasses aren’t ideal for sports or exercise, unless you invest in pricey sports goggles.
- They can fog up in the cold, rain, and humidity.
- They may not suit your choice of outfit.
- They sit about half an inch from your eye, which can sometimes distort your vision or leave you with poor peripheral (side) vision.2
- They can become uncomfortable, pinching your nose or ears.
- If you want to keep the sun out of your eyes, you’ll need a pair of prescription sunglasses (an added expense).
- They can be a constant reminder about your vision issues, and may feel like a barrier between you and those around you.
Contact lenses are a much newer invention than eyeglasses, and they have certainly changed the lives of many people. They are incredibly popular, with more than 45 million people in the U.S. wearing them.3
“Contacts” are just that – they make direct contact with your eyeball. When you’re wearing them, it’s easy to forget that you even have a vision issue. But they aren’t for everybody. They may not be ideal for young children or the elderly, as they can be tricky to put in.
- Because they’re worn directly on the eye, contacts follow the natural curvature of your eye, preventing distortions.4
- They are perfect for active people and can be worn for almost all manner of sports and activities (though you shouldn’t wear them when swimming).
- Because the lenses conform to the curve of your eye, your entire view is put into focus, including your peripheral view.5
- They won’t fog up because of the weather.
- No one will know you’re wearing them.
- You may forget that you’re wearing them.
- You can change your eye color with colored lenses if you like.
- They go with everything you wear.
- Contact lenses can be difficult to insert into your eyes initially.
- Because you’re actively touching your eye area, and your lenses, you can introduce an infection.6
- They reduce the amount of oxygen that reaches your eye, which can lead to irritated, dry eyes.
- They need to be carefully cleaned after each use, or replaced daily, depending on the type, to prevent serious eye infections and potential long-term damage.7
- They can be expensive, as they’re disposable and need to be replenished regularly.
- They can be annoying if you need to switch from seeing far distances to something close-up, like a computer screen (read more about bifocal lenses below).
- They can be so easily forgotten that you may fall asleep while wearing them. This can cause dry, red, irritated eyes, or even serious infections.8
Contacts vs Glasses: How Do I Choose?
When you look at the pros and cons of contacts vs glasses, you can see that both eyeglasses and contact lenses offer great options for your vision. And, though contacts may put you at a greater chance of an eye infection, these chances are greatly diminished when you commit to proper eye care and good lens hygiene.9 Many people have been wearing lenses for years, and have never had an infection – because of their diligent commitment to eye health.
So, do you need to choose between the two?
No! In fact, most people are extremely happy using a combination of both glasses and contacts. They don’t see it as contacts vs glasses, but rather contacts + glasses. They’ll use contact lenses for certain events in their week (like exercising, working, or going out with friends), and switch to glasses for more low-key things (like sitting down to watch TV or working from home). The choice is entirely yours to make.
While eyeglasses are pretty standard, there are many different types of contact lenses to suit your lifestyle. Some are “dailies” that you wear once, and then dispose of at the end of the day. Others you can use for up to two weeks before replacing with a fresh pair. While other kinds of contacts allow for continuous 30-day wear without removal. One particularly helpful type of lens is a bifocal contact lens. In the same vein as bifocal eyeglasses, these allow you to switch between long distances and short distances.10
Glasses vs Contacts: The Takeaway
Ultimately, those with vision issues have several options to help them see with near 20/20 vision, thanks to technology. Which side you choose on the contacts vs glasses debate is entirely personal. But, if you have any questions or concerns, see your eye care professional. They’re also a great resource if you’d like to learn how to wear contact lenses. Contacts are not nearly as scary when you practice with a professional.
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