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Guide to Common Contact Lens Materials

  • 26 May 2022
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Though contact lenses have become an extremely popular alternative to spectacles today, many of us in Singapore still aren’t entirely sure about the kinds of materials that go into our lenses — or even the fact that there are differet types of contact lens materials available.

However, the materials used in our contact lenses can make a big difference to our vision, comfort and eye health. It’s thus best that you know the advantages and disadvantages of the different lens materials such that you can choose something that best suits your personal needs and wants.

Soft Contact Lenses

Soft lenses are made from gel-like, water-containing plastics known as hydrogels. They are extremely thin and pliable, and readily conform to the front surface of a wearer’s eye. They are also known to be a lot more comfortable than hard contact lenses.

There are two main materials used in the making of soft contact lenses:

The main material used in hydrogel lenses is poly-HEMA. Oxygen permeability in hydrogel lenses is largely dependent on water content; the higher the water content, the more oxygen can pass through that specific hydrogel lens. Some advantages of hydrogel contact lenses include:

  • High flexibility
  • Great initial comfort
  • Thinner than other lens types
  • Often more affordable
  • Readily available in varied forms (dailies, fortnightlies, monthlies)
  • Readily available in varied designs (spherical, toric, multifocal)

2. Silicone Hydrogel Lenses

Silicone hydrogel contact lenses are a more advanced type of soft lenses that are more porous than their typical hydrogel counterparts. They are a popular form of soft lenses today, due to their allowance for great oxygen permeability, which no longer depends on water content, but the amount of silicone used. Some advantages of silicone hydrogel contact lenses include:

1. Hydrogel Lenses

  • High oxygen permeability
  • Easier to handle (especially for new wearers)
  • Improved durability
  • Readily available in varied forms (dailies, fortnightlies, monthlies, and even extended wear and overnight options)
  • Readily available in varied designs (spherical, toric, multifocal)

    Hard Contact Lenses

    Hard lenses are more rigid in nature but often provide crisper vision while offering higher deposit resistance and durability than soft lenses. Though they may be less comfortable and more difficult to get used to, hard contact lenses are also less expensive.

    There are two main materials used in the making of hard contact lenses:

    1. PMMA Lenses

    PMMA lenses are made from polymethyl methacrylate, which make them excellent optics. However, they do not transmit oxygen to the eye and can be extremely difficult to adapt to due to the relative discomfort entailed by their unique material use. Some advantages of PMMA contact lenses include:

    1. Innate biocompatibility (does not trigger immune responses)
    2. Cannot shatter

    2. Gas Permeable Lenses

    Also known as rigid gas permeable lenses, these lenses look and feel like PMMA lenses but are more porous in nature. As such, gas permeable contact lenses have virtually replaced PMMA lenses as the go-to hard lens in Singapore, with many finding them nearly just as comfortable as soft hydrogel lenses. Some advantages of gas permeable contact lenses include:

    • Extremely sharp vision
    • Deposit resistance against protein and lipid buildup
    • Great durability (often lasts for 2 to 3 years)
    • Less expensive
    • Effective astigmatism correction

    Materials Make a Difference

    Choosing the right contact lens material can significantly improve your vision and comfort, especially for those with sensitive eyes or allergies. Silicone hydrogel lenses are the most popular lens material type, followed by rigid gas permeable lenses. Consider your preferences and personal lifestyle before choosing between the two.

    Whatever your final choice, though, Clearlab has got you covered.

    At Clearlab, we are committed to providing innovative contact lenses and services to the global marketplace through our product portfolio. Shop Clearlab online today to buy the best daily disposables and monthly contact lenses in Singapore. We also have coloured dailies and coloured monthlies for those who prefer a splash of tincture to their aesthetic.

    Check out our FAQ page to find out more.

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