Soft vs. GP contact lenses: which ones are better?

Soft vs. GP contact lenses: which ones are better? 1200

As a years’ long user of both the regular glasses and GP contact lenses, I experienced both advantages and disadvantages of using both. Furthermore, discussing the issue with many other users of contact lenses gave me enough material for this post.

Unfortunately, we live in a world where more and more people are facing bad eyesight. Although the hereditary cases cannot be prevented, only corrected with visual aids – glasses and contact lenses – the acquired bad vision cases could be prevented. Or not, actually, depending on where you work and what you do.

 

Inherited bad vision diagnosis

My sister was diagnosed with bad vision when she was 5 years old. At first she was prescribed therapy in which she was supposed to activate her eye muscles better, but I believe the end result would have been the same even without it. So her prescription was constantly on the rise, and has not stopped yet – more than 20 years later. In fact, the prescription changes almost on a yearly basis, which is not the case with me.

 

My eyesight diagnosis

I was diagnosed with bad vision when I was about 12. I could no longer see the blackboard properly and started narrowing my eyes in an attempt to focus better. Alas, it was already too late – so I was doomed for life.

I remember one of the early glasses frames was a genuine Harry Potter style long before it was even written.

But, I always hated glasses. They always seemed a hassle, and although they were a suitable visual aid, their aesthetics was questionable. I could never do any sports, and was never a reliable partner in any games that demanded perfect mobility or physical activity. Quite a detriment to an attempt for a normal childhood and growing up in a timultus surrounding anyway…

You know that curse, be careful what you wish for – it just may come true. Well, I never wanted to wear glasses, but ended up with them anyway.

 

The first attempt to get rid of glasses

When we were in our mid teens, we decided to try for contact lenses.

In short, it didn’t work out. Neither of us could bear wearing contact lenses for longer than a couple of hours, and although we gave our best throughout several months, it failed.

My final attempt ended when one of the lenses broke – it fell into the sink while I was trying to put it on, and truncated while I was trying to move it, and that was it – the straw that broke the camel’s back. The end.

 

Second contact lenses attempt was more successful

The second attempt with contact lenses was inevitable. Actually, it was partly due to my boyfriend at the time, who kept convincing me I’d look much better without glasses. Although our story ended, what was left behind was the rekindled desire to go for contact lenses again.

This time it was a success. Well, if it could be called a success: although my sister had no problems whatsoever, I was quite close to giving up, as discomfort was unbearable. My eyes were always itchy, I could barely wear them for a couple of hours, not even close to the recommended all day, and putting them on was almost impossible, with several attempts taking up to a quarter of an hour.

But I still rememeber the day it all changed. We were supposed to go to Amsterdam for a day, and I managed the morning routine, so we set off. I wore my contact lenses from the early morning, expecting to take them off at some point. But sooner than I realised, the field trip was over, my contact lenses still in my eyes! Woo-hoo! FINALLY, the torture was over.

And there’s been years since that day.

So here I am now, discussing points for and against both soft and GP contact lenses – although I never used soft ones, many people around me have. Here are our stories.

 

Should I wear GP or soft contact lenses?

Although in my case it was the doctor who decided which contact lenses should I wear, I believe there are cases when you could try on both and decide which ones suit you better. Here are my tips on what to pay attention to.

 

1: Physical traits of contact lenses

Soft contact lenses

  • Soft contact lenses are transparent.
  • They are approximately the size of a thumb finger nail, so that they cover both the pupil and the iris of an eye.
  • They are wiggly, easily foldable, and once you lose them quite difficult to spot due to their transparency. A nightmare!
  • They come in a solution and must be stored in liquid when not worn, otherwise they dry and become useless – no means to restore them.

GP contact lenses

  • GP contact lenses are coloured, most often blue or brown, so they could be found more easily if you lose them. However, it’s not like this helps if you lose a contact lens – it becomes virtually invisible, no matter the background. Also a nightmare!
  • They cover the pupil and partly the iris, as they are approximately the size of a small finger nail – less than 10 mm in diameter. Mine are 9.4 mm. Or 9.6.
  • They are relatively hard, but still slightly bendable.
  • They are packed in dry cassettes, and can be kept in dry environment – it will not hurt them. However, if you intend on wearing them again, it’s advisable not to leave them to dry after taking them off, as such storing conditions may damage them, due to proteins and other substances that float around in your tears.

 

2: Expiry date

Soft contact lenses

Depending on the exact type, soft contact lenses can be worn for a day, for a month, or for three months. I have heard stories of even yearly soft contact lenses, but have not yet met anyone who actually used them, so I’ll say such a case is relatively questionable. Monthly or three-monthly soft contact lenses are the most commonly used ones today.

What actually determines how long can soft contact lenses be worn is how much you wear them. If you use the monthly ones, that means – 30 times. If you wear them for one day, then skip one, then wear them again, then skip a day, and repeat it regularly, that basically means that you could wear them for two months – as long as it refers to 30 usages within 60 days.

However, no place for exaggeration: if you intend wearing your contact lenses once a week, you may be better off without them after all – they are not meant to last forever, you know. They cannot survive long if not regularly worn.

One of a sure signs that your soft contact lenses need replacement is the eye redness which inevitably manifests if it’s time for new ones but you still wear the old ones.

GP contact lenses

GP contact lenses, in general, last for a year. Unlike the soft ones, there would be no physical signs to indicate they need replacement, but you will also feel relatively uncomfortable wearing them.

With me, they simply become unbearable – more than usual, and no additional cleaning processes is ever going to change that.

Of course, once you replace them and put on the new ones, you will realise that the old ones were damaged – your new lenses will give you crispier image and will feel light when worn, almost as if you don’t even have them on.

 

3: Price tag

Soft contact lenses

It all depends on the brand, as with anything else. However, in general, soft contact lenses could prove to be more expensive option.

You buy them more often, usually as many pairs as you would need for half a year, but once you add it up the final price tag, together with the accompanying solutions, may go as high as several hundred euros a year.

My cousin in the Netherlands pays hers, on a yearly basis, around 350 euros. Another cousin of mine, in Serbia, pays his around 180 euros.

GP contact lenses

Once you buy your GP contact lenses, which in my case is around 80 euros – I wear Boston Envision XO, your yearly supply of solutions adds up to another 20 euros. Altogether, around 100 euros a year.

 

4: Comfort

Soft contact lenses

Highly comfortable. Those who wear soft contact lenses do not even feel them on – from the moment they put them on, it feels as if they’ve recovered their former natural vision.

No need to get used to them, so from the day 1 you wear them all day long. Even if you make a break in wearing them for several days or weeks, you can continue wearing them with no problems.

GP contact lenses

Highly uncomfortable. Those who wear GP contact lenses tend to struggle with getting used to them, and the process could be quite exhausting.

First-time users need to train their eyes to accept a foreign body, so the first day you wear them for two hours – if you can manage it that long – and then you add up an hour per day, until you reach the whole day phase.

If you make a break in wearing them, especially if it’s a longer one, such as two weeks or a month, you will have to start the process all over again – I just guess it’s not as tiring as the first time ever.

 

5: Insertion

Soft contact lenses

Due to their size and physical characteristics, soft contact lenses may be a bit difficult to put on. You need to keep your eyes wide open, sometimes with one hand, the other one to insert the contact lens into your eye.

They are easier to put on if you face down, so that your face is parallel to the floor, your eyes as well.

GP contact lenses

I believe GP contact lenses are easier to insert onto your eye once you master it… If you are facing down, there is even no need to open your eyes more than usually – just look down and place the lens onto your pupil.

I have not mastered it yet, so I surprise myself when I put on both lenses without the right one escaping me somewhere else on the eye apple. I usually have no problems with the left one, but the right, ooh, man.

 

6: Removal

Soft contact lenses

Again, due to their size, soft contact lenses must be held with your thumb and your index finger to remove them from your eye.

Most people find this unimaginable when told, but if you wear contact lenses you get at ease with sticking your fingers into your eyes on a daily basis.

GP contact lenses

GP contact lenses can be removed relatively easy – and that could happen when you least expect it. Like, sitting on your bed when all of a sudden you realise within a second you lost your contact lens – this happened to my sister once.

So, open your eye and pull the spot where your eyelids end – that should catapult the contact lens from your eye. Just make sure you do this with your palm close to your eyes, so you don’t lose the lens.

 

7: Hygiene

Soft contact lenses

Soft contact lenses are quite easy to keep. You put them on, take them off, store them in their solution overnight, put them on, take them off, store them in their solution overnight, day after day after day. It takes you less than a minute to put both lenses on.

Although they are replaced relatively regularly, most soft contact lenses users I know tend to have eye infections from time to time.

You would think no such thing could happen, but on the other hand, when you know there is virtually no maintenance, it makes sense that all bacteria remain on the lenses and thus proneness to infections is always lurking from behind.

GP contact lenses

GP contact lenses must be cleansed on a daily basis. You wear them, take them off, store them in their solution overnight, clean them with their detergent, put them on, take them off, store them in their solution overnight, day after day after day. It’s advisable to use de-protein tablets once a week, to ensure better hygiene and protein removal from all lens pores.

That is why my morning routine – brushing my teeth and putting on my lenses – lasts up to 15 minutes. Every time! Sometimes I just wish I had glasses again – that way I’d get those extra 15 minutes of sleep.

It happened to me several times that I caught an eye infection, but it was also the case while I wore my glasses – so I cannot really say if my contact lenses had had anything to do with it.

 

8: Prescription

Soft contact lenses

Soft contact lenses can accommodate any prescription there is, including cylinders.

Wearing contact lenses is unlikely to prevent your prescription from changing, so make sure to go to your ophthalmologist regularly, especially if you notice deterioration f your eyesight or headaches.

GP contact lenses

GP contact lenses, on the other hand, cannot accommodate any prescription. In fact, the reason I am forced to wear them is I have both astigmatism and myopia. Astigmatism means I cannot see well, while myopia is a slightly irregular shape of my eye apples – instead of a ball, my eyes are like a zeppelin. Haha. Of course, this eye apple share is quite microscopic, but I hope you get the point.

The good thing about GP contact lenses is they also do not come with cylinders, so they pressure the eye apple into its natural shape, hence correcting your sight. That is why, when you wear them for a long time, your cylinders are likely to almost disappear. Mine used to be -2.5 when I started wearing my contact lenses, but have now decreased to -0.25 due to years’ long use of lenses. Unfortunately, if you stop wearing them for a couple of days, the cylinders return.

Some background knowledge in physics made me believe GP contact lenses also deter the change in your prescription, but when I asked my high school physics teacher why is that the case, she could not give me any answer whatsoever. I still supposed it’s because contact lens are placed on your eyes directly, so any light fraction functions better than with glasses as there is no additional space between the glass and the eye.

With me, I still have the same prescription as 7 years ago, but even before that I wore my glasses with the same prescription for about 5 years. So it may just be me, or GP contact lenses truly stop your prescription from constantly growing.

However, it is advisable to visit your ophthalmologist once a year, just to check your eye sight, eye pressure, and many other eye-related issues.

 

9: Sports activities

Soft contact lenses

Many athletes also have bad eye sight, so they wear soft contact lenses. Once in your eyes, they are there for good, and there is virtually no chance of ever losing them.

GP contact lenses

Due to the easiness of their removal (remember catapult?), GP contact lenses are not a smart choice for numerous sports activities, especially the ones that include a lot of body contact, let alone full contact martial arts.

Any kick on the head may catapult the lens from your eye or cause even worse problems. One girl I know had her contact lens explode in her eye out of the blue, so the doctors barely managed to preserve her eye sight undamaged.

However, I do karate, and have not had any problems with my contact lenses – besides my general contact lenses problems, such as dry eyes – but that’s a whole different story.

 

10: Sleep

Soft contact lenses

It is never advisable sleeping with your lenses on, but many people do it for many reasons. Some don’t want to hassle with putting them on every morning, some need those extra minutes to rest, some need to spring out of bed the moment their alarm goes off – whatever the reason, it may be okay once a while, but do not do it on a regular basis. Leave your eyes with a healthy sleep and let them rest overnight.

When he was in the army, my cousin used to wear his soft contact lenses for about a week, sleeping with them on every night, because morning routine in the army leaves no time for proper hygiene and contact lenses maintenance. He, however, did make sure to take them off during the day and soak them in their solution for at least a while.

GP contact lenses

Sleeping with contact lenses, at least for me, means that the moment I get up I would have to take them off and soak them in their solution, or at least use the detergent, because my contact lenses get dry when worn for too long.

In more than 7 years I wear them, I remember only three nights I spent with my lenses on, because I knew I’d have no time to clean them properly after getting up, but I do not recommend doing this.

It happens also that I sometimes take an afternoon nap with my lenses on – because I believe it will be just a 20 minutes nap, but it always turns into at least two hours sleep, and after I get up I have to clean my contact lenses after all.

I also know a girl who rarely takes off her GP contact lenses and has never had any problems with them.

 

11: Accompanying glasses or no glasses at all?

Soft contact lenses

Most people who wear contact lenses usually have glasses with them, to wear after they take off their lenses. If you already wear glasses once you decide to switch to contact lenses, your ophthalmologist is going to check your sight for both prescriptions.

Also, having glasses in stash is useful if you catch an eye infection – eye medications cannot be applied with your lenses on to not damage them – if you are sick, if – many ifs.

GP contact lenses

In fact, I believe I am the only person who wears contact lenses and has no glasses with them. That is because my ophthalmologist did not want to check my eyes for glasses prescription – she claimed it was not her job – and I now believe I would not even get the right prescription on glasses even if I wanted to.

So, you see. My prescription is -7, no cylinders in my GP lenses. For a proper glasses prescription, I would need to stop wearing my lenses for at least a week, which means that the prescription would not only be higher, but include cylinders as well. Glasses are meant to be worn right after taking off your lenses, so even if the prescription was the same in glasses and lenses, the cylinders difference added in glasses would make 2.5 difference, which is HUGE and makes such glasses impossible to wear as an aid to contact lenses.

 

12: Swimming and diving

Soft contact lenses

Activities in any open water bigger than your bath tub are to be approached with special care when wearing contact lenses. Not to say that you cannot enjoy water sports if you wear contact lenses, just make sure you understand what may happen if you expose your lenses to external influences. Chlorine in swimming pools and especially sea salt may seriously damage your lenses, causing their replacement sooner than expected, to say the least.

Swimming and diving with soft contact lenses should be no problem. Since soft contact lenses vacuum on your eye apple, they basically do not move – unless you try to take them out. That makes them suitable even for breath diving with your eyes open. In fact, my cousin does it regularly and has never lost a contact lens in her life during more than 20 years of using soft contact lenses.

GP contact lenses

On the other hand, GP contact lenses float on your eye. They rely on your tears to moisten them and to enable clear vision. Once you start wearing them, you will feel them moving on your eye, literally floating, moving up and down as you blink, but that funny and curious sensation will soon disappear.

And that very same feeling makes it dangerous to open your eyes underwater. Of course you can swim with ease (if you can swim! Mind you, contact lenses cannot make you miraculously swim if you haven’t learnt it before), but with breath diving – make sure to wear swimming goggles.

 

13: “I have something in my eye, aaaaa!” :tears:

Soft contact lenses

I rarely hear anybody whining about that “something in their eye”. Soft lenses make it harder to notice when something is in your eye as they neatly adhere to the surface, wrapping it gently. Hence, what may also happen is that there is something in your eye, but you don’t even know it – until you see a red mark in your eye. Of course, this is rare, but not impossible.

GP contact lenses

One of the worst EVER things about wearing GP contact lenses happens when you have something in your eye, which happens to me at least once a day, or once in two or three days. Be it due to windy weather, or simply air particles, if something gets into your eye, things can get quite nasty: from either disabling you completely, to causing you serious vertigoes, that bloody thing simply won’t get out! The only way to get rid of it is to take off your lens and put it back on after you clean it, and after your tears push the particle out of your eye. It happened to me once that my eyes were so soaked in tears that I could not even remove the lens from my eye nor could I get rid of it in any other way. A nightmare!

The positive side of this torture is there is no way for anything to hurt your eye, since eyes react instinctively filling themselves with tears, thus naturally cleaning the trouble away.

 

14: Fashion

Soft contact lenses

The only fashion distinction between the soft contact lenses and GP contact lenses is that one of them can be worn to temporarily change your eye colour, while the other cannot.

It’s soft contact lenses that can boast this feature, but there are limitations to this as well. Namely, only fair eye colours can be changed, such as green, blue or light gray. With brown eyes, forget about changing them into blue or green. It simply cannot happen.

Soft contact lenses have become popular for many other shapes and colours, not just the regular ones. So now you can have cat eyes, shake eyes, anarchy eyes, even red or white eyes. Now that can be a bit scary – but we’re all different. Whatever rocks your boat!

GP contact lenses

As previously said, GP contact lenses are purely corrective and cannot be used to change your eye colour.

 

Here I tried pointing out to various aspects of wearing both soft and GP contact lenses instead of glasses. My aim was not to say that one or the other is better, just to indicate that there are both advantages and disadvantages to both. While some features of soft contact lenses may be better for athletes, such as no possibility of lens moving inside your eye, better hygiene or crispier vision may be better for others.

 

So… For the end, I can only ask you the following: which contact lenses do you wear and which ones do you find better?

 

If you are interested, there’s more interesting reading here:

 

Advertisements

3 Comments

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s