Glasses and contact lenses can help you to deal with vision problems such as nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. Your doctor can determine how much correction you require, and you can use that prescription to get tools that can help you to see clearly once more.
Are glasses or contact lenses better for you? The answer relies on what you do every day, your personal preferences, and your comfort with risk.
If you are an active person or you hope to be one, you may prefer contact lenses over glasses. Contacts may also be a good choice for you if you just do not like the way glasses alter your appearance. (Learn more)
Contact lenses come with an enhanced risk of infection, and some forms of glasses can protect your eyes from injury and damage. Glasses are also remarkably easy to take care of, and they can be less expensive than contacts, as there is no special solution to purchase for cleaning purposes. If you do not mind the look of glasses, they could be a better choice for you. (Learn more)
Your eye doctor can help you decide which option is right for you. No matter which tool you select, you will need to stay in touch with your doctor to make sure your correction is appropriate. (Learn more)
The Benefits of Contacts
For some people, this hidden quality of contact lenses is an amazing benefit. These people may not like the way they look when they are wearing glasses, or they may not feel as though they are as attractive to others while wearing glasses as they are when they have a bare face.
Contacts can also be remarkably easy to wear even during vigorous activity. As the insurer VSP points out, contacts do not bounce around or slip from the face while people are running or jumping. As a result, people who play sports often prefer to wear contact lenses, as they are able to fully participate in the game while wearing contacts without worrying about where their glasses are.
Contacts can also be a good option for those who want to be active but haven’t managed to hit that goal quite yet. As Mayo Clinic points out, adults are encouraged to get at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise every week.
Glasses are, for some people, the perfect excuse to avoid a workout. They may claim that glasses steam up when they get hot and sweat, or they may claim that glasses jiggle and move so much during a workout that they are distracting and make exercise uncomfortable. Switching to contacts could make some of these excuses fade away, and that could entice some people to grow more active and healthier.
Glasses also offer a reduced form of peripheral vision. As Scientific American points out, peripheral vision is used to help us detect subtle movement coming toward us from the sides. It's a form of vision that was likely very helpful for our ancestors who had to run to avoid becoming prey. But this vision can also be important in some daily activities.
Driving, for example, involves peripheral vision. Seeing a subtle movement off to the side could mean the difference between hitting and avoiding an oncoming car. People who drive for a living, including school bus drivers, may rely on peripheral vision to such a degree that wearing contacts is a necessity.
The Benefits of Glasses
While contacts are made for easy wear, they must also be maintained properly. They must be taken out, cleansed properly, replaced frequently, and stored appropriately. All these steps come with associated fees. People who wear contacts have cases to buy, solutions to stock, and lenses to purchase.
Glasses, on the other hand, come with no such longstanding expenses. People who choose glasses can make a one-time investment that lasts with very little need for delicate care. Cleaning of the lenses can mean little more than rinsing them with common glass cleaner, and the lenses do not need to be replaced unless vision changes. For those hoping to cut costs, glasses can be a smart choice.
Glasses also come with a lower risk of infection. Unlike contact lenses, which sit on the surface of the eye, glasses sit a bit in front of the eye and do not touch the eye at all. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in 500 contact lens wearers will have a serious eye infection that leads to blindness. People who wear glasses just do not face this risk.
Glasses can also provide protections from common issues that can harm the eye. For example, lenses can be crafted to offer protection from the damage the sun's rays can cause, and that protection could result in a lower risk of cancerous tumors within the eye. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, some contact lenses also offer UV protection, but they are not considered a substitute for glasses. That means people with contact lenses also need to purchase sunglasses. People with prescription sunglasses get protection and vision correction in one simple investment.
Glasses can also provide at least some protection from serious eye injuries. That is the conclusion of a landmark study from 2000 published in Graefe's Archive for Clinical and Experimental Ophthalmology. Here, researchers found that even prescription glasses, which are not designed to offer the full protection that safety glasses do, could protect people from very serious injuries that could cause vision loss. That extra little bit of lens could offer enough protection to make a potentially major injury a little less severe.
Some people also like the way they look in glasses. Wearing glasses has long been associated with intelligence and seriousness, and some people wish to project those traits to the people around them. Glasses offer them a way to give that information without saying anything at all.
Glasses can also give people the opportunity to make a fashion statement. Frames come in so many shapes and sizes, and they can be swapped out when there is the desire for a new look.
Work With Your Doctor
For example, people with severe nearsightedness may need very thick glasses lenses in order to see clearly, and those heavy glasses can be uncomfortable. Contacts may serve them better. Some people with significant astigmatism may benefit from some types of contacts that reshape the surface of the eye. These contacts may be better than glasses for them. Finally, some people have very dry eyes or very vein-filled eyes, and contacts may irritate those underlying conditions. For people like this, glasses might be a better choice.
After a complete examination, your doctor can help you understand whether your prescription and eye health make glasses or contacts better for you.
If you choose contact lenses, you will need to see your doctor more frequently for follow-up care than you would if you got glasses, according to the American Optometric Association. But no matter your selection, you should visit your eye doctor frequently for dilated exams. During your exams, your doctor can look for underlying health conditions that can make your vision even worse.
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The Patient Experience
How Much Should the Average Adult Exercise Every Day? (December 2018). Mayo Clinic.
Put Your Peripheral Vision to the Test. (March 2016). Scientific American.
Healthy Contact Lens Wear and Care: Fast Facts. (July 2018). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Healthy Contact Lens Wear and Care: Benefits of Vision Correction With Contact Lenses. (January 2015). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The Epidemiology of Serious Eye Injuries from the United States Eye Injury Registry. (February 2000). Graefe's Archive for Clinical and Experimental Ophthalmology.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Various Types of Contact Lenses. American Optometric Association.