Although contact lenses have been around for more than a century, the past decade has seen tremendous developments in lens materials and design to bring even greater benefits to contact lens wearers.

Today, almost all eyesight conditions can be corrected with contact lenses. Despite advances in spectacle lens technology and the advent of surgical techniques such as laser refractive surgery, contact lenses provide many advantages and a very successful form of vision correction. New manufacturing technology has also made contact lenses more affordable than ever before. That's why there are now 3.7 million contact lens wearers in the UK, which represents nine per cent of adults aged 15-64 years.

Our Top 10 reasons for wearing contact lenses

• Contact lenses offer natural all-round vision whilst enhancing your appearance
• Contact lenses are simple and convenient to use and expand lifestyle choices
• Contact lenses have many advantages for sport and leisure activities
• Contact lenses can be worn every day, part-time or just for going out and special occasions
• Vision with contact lenses can be as good as, or better than with spectacles
• Contact lenses offer a safe, effective, stable, and reversible alternative to refractive surgery
• Contact lenses can correct almost all eyesight conditions and are suitable for people of all ages
• Adaptation to contact lenses is rapid and trouble-free
• The latest contact lenses and solutions provide excellent comfort and eye health
• Some eye conditions can only be corrected with contact lenses

More advantages of the various types of contact lenses when compared to spectacles and refractive surgery are given in the following table (courtesy of Professor Nathan Efron and Optician).

A comparison of different forms of contact lenses

Characteristic Soft Rigid Orthokeratology Spectacle lenses Refractive surgery
Field of view Full Full Full Restricted Full
Stability of vision (post blink) Excellent Good Excellent Excellent Excellent
Glare None In low light None None Some post-surgery
Glare protection tint possible Cosmetic only No No Yes N/A
UV protection possible Yes Yes No Yes  N/A
Initial comfort Good Poor Fair Good Fair
Long-term comfort Good Good Excellent Good Excellent
Adaptation required Very little Yes Yes Sometimes N/A
Suitability for intermittent use Yes Not usually No  Yes  No 
Disposability viable Yes No N/A No N/A
Risk of loss Low Moderate N/A Low N/A
Risk of dislodgement during wear Low Moderate Nil High N/A
Risk of damage during wear Low Low  Nil High Moderate (Lasik flap mislocation)
Risk of damage with handling High Low Low Low N/A
Ease of care Simple (nil for daily disposable) Simple Simple Simple N/A
Initial cost Low Moderate High Moderate High
Ongoing costs High Moderate Moderate None Nil
Cost to correct astigmatism High Low Only limited correction possible  Low High
Bifocal correction possible Compromise Very difficult No Yes Monovision
Use in rain  Good Good Excellent Poor Good
Susceptibility to fog up No No No Yes No 
Susceptibility to dirt up No No No Yes No
Risk of complication Low Negligible Low  None Moderate

N/A – not applicable


1. Association of Contact Lens Manufacturers 2012 statistics on the size of the UK contact lens market.