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Contact Lenses - Merits and Demerits

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Contact Lenses - Merits and Demerits

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Contact lenses are worn to help improve vision and are made of thin plastic, glass and positioned over the eye's cornea. Read below to know in detail.

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Infanteena Marily F.

Published At May 16, 2017
Reviewed AtJuly 25, 2023


Refractive error is the most common problem of the eyes these days. Approximately 30 percent of people under 25 years of age have one or the other form of refractive error. Prevalent ocular conditions encompass myopia (nearsightedness), hypermetropia (longsightedness), and astigmatism (imperfect curvature of the eye’s cornea), which are regarded as common refractive errors. The two common non-invasive options to counteract these refractive errors are spectacles and contact lenses. Each of them possesses its own set of advantages and disadvantages, but on the cosmetic front, contact lenses score better than spectacles.

What Are the Two General Types of Contact Lenses?

The following are the two types of contact lenses:

Soft Contact Lenses: They are comparatively more comfortable than hard contact lenses since they can withhold more water and are made of soft plastic. A majority of contact lenses offer protection from UV radiation. Based on the type of contact lens prescribed, soft lenses can be disposed of either daily or every two to four weeks. Changing the lenses frequently also offers the benefits of less cleaning, minimal chances of infection, and more comfort.

The disadvantages of soft lenses are that they can easily entrap pollutants like soap or lotion from the hands, which can cause irritation. Compared to hard lenses, they are more fragile and can tear easily. Daily disposables and silicone extended-wear disposables are in trend in recent times. Proper disinfection of soft lenses is required by soaking them in a disinfecting solution overnight.

Hard Contact Lenses: Hard contact lenses or rigid gas permeable lenses are harder than soft contact lenses and hence have a longer lifespan. Unlike the conventional type, hard contact lenses comprise silicone polymers that permit oxygen to circulate to the eye’s cornea. They can further retain their shape and provide a clear vision for certain types of refractive errors. The disadvantages of hard contact lenses include:

  • Sleeping with any type of contact lenses can minimize the flow of oxygen to the eye’s cornea which can result in a serious eye infection.

  • There can be an undesirable reshaping of the eye’s cornea.

  • The time required to get accustomed to hard contact lenses is the same every time even if it is not worn for as little as a day. Hence, this demands the use of hard contact lenses every day to obtain sufficient comfort.

  • One is at a 10 to 15 times higher risk of developing corneal ulcers, which is a serious infection that can affect the vision if left untreated.

How to Choose the Correct Contact Lens?

One cannot choose contact lenses randomly as it is based on factors like the type of refractive error, expense, and lifestyle of the individual. Based on these, an ophthalmologist (eye doctor) will recommend the appropriate contact lens.

Who Are Not the Candidates for Wearing Contact Lenses?

The following are the candidates:

  • Those with insufficient tear production.

  • History of viral infection in the eye’s cornea.

  • Those who are frequently exposed to fumes.

  • Under nine years of age.

What Are the Risks Associated With Wearing Contact Lenses?

The associated risks are as follows:

  • Old and ill-fitting contact lenses can scratch the eye and can also lead to the growth of blood vessels in the eye, which can endanger vision.

  • The use of eye drops should be avoided while wearing contact lenses. Wetting drops or preservative-free lubricating drops as suggested by the physician should be used.

  • If the eyes turn very red, watery, painful, or become sensitive to light, the contact lenses should be removed immediately and one must consult an ophthalmologist. Similarly, blurred vision or any type of discharge coming from the eyes following the use of contact lenses should not be ignored as these can indicate serious eye problems.

What Are the Merits and Demerits of Using Contact Lenses?

The merits and demerits of using contact lenses are as follows:

Merits of Contact Lenses:

  • Cosmesis: The greatest advantage of contact lenses is better cosmesis. Spectacles are not widely accepted and are seen as a social stigma. Contact lenses provide clear vision while maintaining an esthetically pleasing appearance.
  • Active Lifestyle: Numerous activities, including sports, pose challenges for individuals who wear eyeglasses. Contact lenses help in continuing one’s active lifestyle and facilitate one to carry out their full range of activities.
  • Crisp and Clear Vision: Spectacles may not give crisp and clear vision with high refractive errors. Contact lenses score over spectacles by enabling the patient to have crisp and clear vision even with high refractive errors.
  • Deposit Resistance in Hard Lenses: The tear film in the eyes comprises proteins and lipids. These proteins and lipids can adhere to contact lenses. Unlike soft contact lenses, hard contact lenses are not made of components containing water and are resistant to lipid and protein accumulation. Further, with good care and no change in vision, hard contact lenses can last up to two to three years and are less expensive.
  • Hard Contact Lenses Are the Choice for Astigmatism: Scleral hard contact lenses are beneficial for people with astigmatism (imperfect curvature of the eye’s cornea).
  • Fog Prevention: Contact lenses prevent fogging while wearing a mask.
  • A Wide View: A wide and clear field of view can be obtained.

Demerits of Contact Lenses:

  • Learning Curve: Contact lenses have a small learning curve. Initially one may feel it difficult to wear and then remove a contact lens, but once this learning curve is over, wearing contact lenses is very easy.

  • Infection: Though rare, the use of contact lenses is associated with a serious risk of eye infection. This usually happens if proper care is not exercised while using contact lenses and needs urgent medical attention.

  • Dryness: Contact lens is usually associated with dryness, which can be easily resolved by using lubricating eye drops and restricting hours of contact lens use.

Other Demerits include the following:

  • Sufficient handling skills are required by the user.

  • The contact lenses can get torn or lost easily.

  • Maintenance costs of using disinfectant solutions can be difficult.

  • Proper hygiene and maintenance of contact lenses are required else they can cause discomfort and one may be subjected to corneal abrasion.

What Precautions Should One Follow With Contact Lenses?

Here are some recommended precautions that can be taken:

  • Bathing, swimming, or sleeping with contact lenses should be avoided.

  • The contact lenses should be cleaned daily, after use, and placed in a proper solution when not in use. Homemade saline solution should not be used and one must not reuse the same contact lens cleaning solution.

  • The contact lens solution should not be transferred to another bottle as the sterility of the solution will be lost. Similarly, the bottle should be kept tightly closed and the tip of the bottle should not touch any surface.

  • Contact lenses should be changed periodically.

  • One should refrain from using tap water to clean contact lenses as microorganisms can adhere to the lenses. Instead, special contact lens cleaning solutions should be used. Similarly, contact lenses should not be stored in water.

  • Contact lenses should not be used while bathing or swimming. Swimming goggles that protect contact lenses from water can be worn if necessary.

  • Contact lenses should never be cleaned with saliva as bacteria from saliva would get transferred to the lenses.

  • The hands must be thoroughly cleaned before touching the contact lenses.

  • An ophthalmologist should be visited once a year so that the overall eye health and the condition of the contact lenses are reviewed.


Contact lenses are preferred by many people especially youngsters as these reduce the discomfort of wearing spectacles and are esthetic. As with every product, contact lenses do have certain demerits. With proper care and hygiene, contact lenses can be skillfully used. It may require some time and practice to adjust to using contact lenses, but with patience and experience, one can become proficient at it. In case of eye pain, infection, blurred vision, irritation, redness, or swelling is noticed following the use of contact lenses, one must consult an ophthalmologist immediately.

Frequently Asked Questions


What Are the Cons of Contact Lenses?

The cons of using contact lenses are:
  - Lenses are prone to shifting.
- Dryness.
- Ophthalmic infections.
- Itching.
- Foreign body sensation.
- Corneal scratch or tear.
- Eyelid inflammation.
- Blurry vision.
- Risk of losing one or both lenses.


Which Is Better: Glasses or Contacts?

Both eyeglasses and contacts carry their own sets of pros and cons. Ultimately, it is up to the users’ own preferences and affordability status. Since lenses are more expensive than glasses, some users may not be comfortable with using lenses.


How Safe Are Contact Lenses for the Eyes?

Contacts are generally safe for the eyes unless misused. Improper usage might cause eye infections, dryness, and even corneal scratches. Contact lenses are made with medical-grade polymers and are absolutely safe. Improper storage of reusable lenses can cause microbial buildup, leading to infections like microbial keratitis.


What Are the Pros of Contact Lenses?

The pros of using contacts are:
- Give more natural vision.
- No fogging.
- No vision disturbance during rain.
- No glaring or light sensitivity.
- A versatile solution to different problems.
- Boost self-confidence.
- Can change the look of the eye with colored contacts.


What Are the Effects of Wearing Contact Lenses Every Day?

It is okay to wear lenses every day except in cases of pink eye, keratitis, irritation, or dryness. During regular use, contact lenses should be removed every day. Daily-use lenses are supposed to be discarded at the end of the day (after about 14 to 16 hours of usage), while weekly and monthly lenses should be stored in lens boxes topped-up with lens solution.


Is It Possible to Cry With Contacts?

Crying with contacts is not bad for the lenses as long as one avoids rubbing and touching the eyes. It is recommended to wipe the tears as they roll over the face. Rubbing the eyes or touching the lens with un-clean fingers can cause infection to the eye, especially if using reusable lenses. Excessive tear production during crying is not enough to dislodge the lens out of the eye.


For How Long Can Someone Wear Contact Lenses?

Users can safely wear contacts for a maximum of 14 to 16 hours daily. It is recommended to remove the contacts and store them before going to sleep. It is good to remove the lenses as soon as the wearer gets home to give the eyes a chance to breathe in the open air. Some people might feel uncomfortable wearing contacts for even a few hours a day; ideally, they should remove the lenses and put on their eyewear.


What Is the Life Span of a Contact Lens?

Contact lenses are of various types based on their life span. Daily disposable ones should be removed and discarded at the end of the day. Biweeklies should be thrown out after a fortnight, while the monthly ones can be safely reused daily for a month.


Which Type of Lens Is Beneficial for the Eyes?

Polycarbonate, trivex lenses with UV protection are the best to use. They are less likely to shatter on impact and provide the eyes safety against UV rays. It is also recommended to opt for photochromic lenses that change the tint according to light intensity; this is especially useful if the user spends the better part of their day under bright light (natural or artificial). UV protection on lenses works the same as SPF (sun protection factor) lotion on the skin.


Is It Possible for Contacts to Fall Out?

Lenses are designed to adapt to the anatomy of the eyeball, and it is rare for them to fall out. The only time it is possible for the lenses to fall out is in case of improper fitting or vigorous rubbing.


For How Long Should Someone Rest the Eyes After Removing Contacts?

It is recommended to provide rest to the eyes every day. Contacts should be removed after 14 to 16 hours of use. Lenses should not be worn while sleeping. Ideally, the user should remove the lenses and store them (if reusable), and put on their glasses. This gives the eyes a chance to breathe in the open air.


What Steps Do Newbies Take To Remove Contacts?

Beginners or newbies are instructed to follow certain steps while removing the lenses:
- Wash hands with soap and dry them.
- Place a clean towel under the eye to catch the lens if it slips.
- Open the eye with the non-dominant hand.
- Use the index and thumb fingers of the dominant hand to pinch, hold, and remove the lens.
- Alternatively, in the case of hand lenses, the final step can be changed to just pulling the corner of the eyelids towards the ears. The eyes naturally close with the pull, and the lenses pop out.


What Is the Duration of Use of First-Time Contact Lenses?

There is no absolute demarcation for how long a first-time user should wear the lenses. It is normal to feel discomfort and a foreign body feeling at first. The aim must be to wear the lens as long as it does not cause too much discomfort or cause any allergic reactions. However, the lens could be worn for a maximum of 14 to 16 hours.


Is It Possible to Reuse Contact Lenses?

Reusable lenses are commercially available as biweekly and monthly variants. The daily-use lenses should be discarded by the end of the day. But the biweekly one can be worn repeatedly for two weeks and one month, respectively. These reusable lenses should be removed after recommended usage hours and stored in a lens solution in a lens case.


What Are the Steps to Wear Contacts for the First Time?

Beginners can follow a guide to wearing the contacts the first time:
- Wash hands with soap and dry them.
- Place a clean towel under the eye to catch the lens if it slips.
- Open the package on one side.
- Use fingertips to slide the lens to the palm of the opposite hand.
- Place the lens on the tip of the index or middle finger of the dominant hand.
- Check for any damage and ensure the lens is not flipped.
- Open the eye with the non-dominant hand.
- Look forward and up.
- Carefully place the lens in the eye.
- Slowly close the eye and let the lens settle.
- Repeat for the other eye.
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Dr. Vaibhev Mittal
Dr. Vaibhev Mittal

Ophthalmology (Eye Care)


eye checkupcontact lensdry eyes
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