Contact Lenses vs. Glasses (5 Professional Pros & Cons)

Are Lenses Bad For Your Eyes?

Lenses are a great choice for those that need vision correction because they are very safe. That being said, wearing them for too long, not replacing them or not cleaning them properly can damage your eyes and lead to potential vision loss. 

Did you know? Since contacts sit directly on your eyes, it reduces the oxygen flow to your eyes. This may seem inconsequential but having oxygen flow is important in keeping your eyes healthy. There are a few ways to keep your eyes healthy while using lenses: 

  • Use Frequency: Make sure to follow your eye doctor’s instructions and replace or discard your contacts as directed by your eye care professional. It is highly discouraged to continue using your lenses outside of these guidelines as it can lead to severe vision complications.

Type of Lenses: Lenses are made from a variety of materials. Modern contacts are made from silicone hydrogel, which is more porous and allows more oxygen to get to the cornea than traditional lenses. They are frequently more comfortable and are likely safer in the long term. Some people are allergic to silicone, luckily hydrogel lenses are available for these patients.

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Are Contact Lenses Better Than Glasses?

The choice is personal and the best option for you is heavily tied in with your lifestyle. Other factors to take into consideration are ease of use, eye health, comfort, cost and convenience. Both contacts and glasses have great pros and cons that we have outlined to help make your choice easier.

Eyeglasses Pros

  1. Reduced Touch Points. Even prior to COVID, reducing how much you touch your eyes was important. “There’s very few surfaces that are truly clean. You’re almost never going to culture something and not find some germs on it.” said Dr. Aaron Glatt, president and CEO of New Island Hospital in Bethpage, N.Y., and a spokesman for the Infectious Disease Society of America. Wearing glasses reduces the likelihood you will touch your eyes, which reduces the risk of irritating your eyes, causing damage and developing an infection.
  2. Reduced Cost: Over the period of two to three years, glasses are typically cheaper than contacts. 
  3. Style Forward. Gone are the days of glasses being considered nerdy. Frames are a great way to reflect your personality and style.
  4. UV Protection: We place a ton of focus on protecting our skin from sun damage, but frequently forget to do the same for our eyes. Most glasses suppliers will provide you the ability to add a variable strength UV coating to the lenses of your glasses. This helps protect your eyes against damaging UV rays. It can also protect your eyes from the external environment (ex. wind, dust, particles, etc.) .
  5. Sensitive Eyes. More people than you would believe have dry and sensitive eyes. Lenses can be difficult to use for any reasonable length of time if you suffer from dry eyes or are sensitive to things close to or on your eyes.  Also, for those of us not used to wearing lenses, glasses are often a more comfortable and easy option.
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Dry eyes are a common condition in the United States. Most often, people who have dry eyes are middle-aged or older. An estimated 4.88 million Americans age 50 and older have dry eyes. Of these, over 3 million are women and 1.68 million are men.

Eyeglasses Cons

  1. Vision Distortion: Since your glasses sit on the bridge of your nose and with an average distance of half an inch away from the eyes, this can distort your peripheral vision when you are not looking in the center portion of the lens. This effect is more noticeable with higher prescriptions. 
  2. Facial Aesthetics: As eye doctors we feel strongly that there is the right pair of glasses for every person; however, some people may feel it hides their features, or doesn’t compliment their face. 
  3. Damage: Ideally, you have your glasses for 2 or more years. Even people who are diligent in taking care of their glasses may still find they are inadvertently damaged or the contacts can get scratched. . 
  4. Headaches: Many modern day frames are lightweight and shouldn’t cause issues; however, glasses can put pressure on the bridge of your nose and the sides of your head which can lead to headaches, pressure around your eyes and discomfort. An appropriate frame adjustment is always advised before you start wearing a new pair of glasses.
  5. Fog Issues. We know this better now than ever with COVID, but foggy glasses are a pain. Fog easily gathers on our lenses, obscuring our vision and smudging the contacts.

Contact Lenses Pros

After wearing glasses for many years, people may find it difficult to switch to contacts. Here are a few benefits of contact lens use to help you see if they would be a right fit for your eyes.

  1. Sports Friendly. Lenses don’t get in the way when playing sports and exercising. There are prescription goggles available, however they are often expensive and limited in their use outside of sports. 
  1. Fog Friendly: Lenses don’t get fogged up in cold weather, or when wearing a mask. It is a huge inconvenience, during a pandemic, when wearing a mask and glasses is a guaranteed way to fog up.
  1. Easy Replacement:  Your prescription changes over time. This pace can accelerate with age, with excessive screen time and other factors. Contact lenses are more flexible in that you are not committed to the same prescription for years. Once your supply of lenses runs out, replacing them with ones with an updated prescription ensures your eyes are seeing to its full potential. 
  1. Less Distortion: Since contacts sit on your eye, it gives you a wider field of view. This provides less peripheral distortion compared to glasses.
  1. Colour Experimentation: Lenses give you the ability to experiment with different colour lenses that can change your eye color. 
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Contact Lenses Cons

  1. Application Pains: Putting in contact lenses can be difficult. People may have trouble applying and removing a contact lens but proper technique and practice should rectify this in most cases.
  2. More Effort: Glasses require very little upkeep, aside from trying to avoid damaging them and keeping them clean. Contact lenses on the other hand require a high level of cleanliness and care each day. If the hygienic demands of contact lenses are too much, it is best to use glasses, as otherwise you risk eye infections.
  3. Expensive: Contact lenses can be costly, especially with dailies. Not only in their initial purchase, and frequency of repurchase, but the continued need for contact lens solutions and artificial tears.
  4. Computer Vision Syndrome: Also known as digital eye strain. Contact lenses can likely contribute to computer vision syndrome symptoms. Learning how to manage our habits in front of a screen can help prolong our eye health for years to come. Take our quiz below.
  5. Never Over Wear Your Lenses: Wearing contact lenses for too long can damage your eyes. Even daily contact lenses are not exempt from this. Our optometrists recommend letting your eyes rest by aiming to wear glasses for a minimum of one or two days each week or removing your contact lenses 2-4 hours before bed.