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Contact Lens: Types of Vision Correction: Teen Version



  • Contacts come as soft lenses and rigid gas permeable (GP) lenses. They can be used to correct blurred vision, to help you see at a distance, or for other vision problems.
  • Choosing which type of contact lens is best for you is based on your eyeglass prescription, shape of your eyes, the type of work you do, and the way you use your eyes. Your eye care provider can recommend which type you should try.


Astigmatism contact lenses

The cornea is the clear outer layer on the front of the eye. Usually the cornea is curved evenly in all directions like a baseball. Astigmatism happens when the curve of the cornea is not even, more like a football. Astigmatism makes vision blurry all the time. A regular contact lens won’t help astigmatism.

Astigmatism can be corrected with some special kinds of contact lenses:

  • Toric lenses are usually thicker and heavier at the bottom. This keeps the lens in the correct position on the eye. Like regular lenses, toric lenses may be soft or gas permeable. Fitting toric contact lenses takes more time and expertise than regular contacts. Toric lenses are usually more expensive.
  • Gas permeable (GP) contact lenses let oxygen reach the cornea. GP lenses may be called hard lenses because they are stiffer than soft contact lenses. They often correct vision better than soft lenses do, especially if your cornea is scarred or has an uneven shape such as in astigmatism.

Monovision and bifocal contact lenses

People who wear contact lenses may need corrections for other vision problems.

  • Monovision

    With monovision, you wear a contact lens in one eye for seeing things at a distance and a lens in the other eye for reading. Monovision takes time to get used to. Your brain must learn to "see" with one eye at a time, and you may have problems with depth perception. Monovision does not work for everyone.

  • Bifocal contacts

    There are several types of bifocal contact lenses:

    • Some have the distance power in the center of the lens and the reading power on the outside, or the reading power on the inside and the distance power on the outside.
    • Some have the distance power on the top and the reading power on the bottom as with bifocal glasses. These lenses are usually weighted so that the reading power stays on the bottom when you wear them.
    • Some lenses blend near and distance powers from the outside to the center of the lens.

    You may adjust quickly to bifocal contacts, but some people have trouble getting used to them. You may feel that your vision is not as clear as you are used to, or that your vision changes when the lens moves on your eye. You may see images that seem to jump when you change from distance to near vision, a ghost image when you read, or a halo around lights. Problems like these may get better as you get used to the new lenses or can sometimes be corrected with a change in lenses.

    If problems continue with contact lenses, you may need bifocal glasses. Bifocal glasses have the distance prescription on the top and the reading prescription on the bottom.

How do I choose the right type?

You may need to try several different types of contact lenses. Contacts come as soft lenses and gas permeable (GP) lenses. Your eye care provider can recommend which type you should try, and order trial lenses for you.

Choosing which type of contact lens is best for you is based on:

  • Your eyeglass prescription
  • The type of work you do
  • The way you use your eyes such as looking straight ahead to read rather than looking down
  • The shape of your eye
  • The size of your pupils

What precautions should I take with contact lenses?

  • When you first start wearing contacts, carefully follow the break-in schedule prescribed by your eye care provider.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water before you put in or take out your contacts.
  • Do not wear your contacts while swimming. Soft lenses absorb chemicals from the water. Gas permeable lenses can float out of your eyes.
  • Don’t wear your lenses for longer than recommended. Follow your eye care provider's instructions about how long you can safely keep the lenses in your eyes. Do not sleep in your contact lenses unless your provider tells you that it’s okay to do so.
  • Always put your contacts in your eyes before you put makeup on. Use water-soluble makeup. Do not use lash-building mascara, because particles may get into your eyes. If you put eyeliner between your lashes and your eyes, you may discolor soft lenses permanently.
  • Use aerosol sprays, such as deodorant and hair spray, before you put in your lenses.
  • If you have medical problems, note on your Medic Alert bracelet or card that you wear contact lenses.
  • Do not put contact lenses in your mouth to moisten or clean them. This increases your risk of eye infection.
  • Do not use eye drops without your eye care provider’s approval. The lens can absorb the eyedrop solution and result in a buildup. This could cause an infection or damage the lens.
  • If you have burning, redness, pain, unusual light sensitivity, or blurry vision, remove your contacts and see your eye care provider right away.
Reviewed for medical accuracy by faculty at the Wilmer Eye Institute at Johns Hopkins. Web site:
Developed by Change Healthcare.
Pediatric Advisor 2022.1 published by Change Healthcare.
Last modified: 2019-07-22
Last reviewed: 2019-07-15
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
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