Contacts or Glasses: Which Are Best for You?

Contact lenses or glasses? For anyone who needs a refractive correction, this is an important question to answer, and there are several factors to consider.

What Suits You Best?

The main thing you’ll want to consider when deciding between glasses and contact lenses is which is more likely to fit your lifestyle. Remember that whether you choose glasses or contact lenses, you’ll likely be wearing them for most of the day, so it’s important to make sure you will be comfortable in and not inconvenienced by your choice of eyewear.

When choosing between glasses and contacts, you will want to consider what appeals to you in various different areas. These include: ease of use and maintenance, comfort, eye health, budget, and aesthetic.

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Advantages of Glasses

  1. Glasses have been around for a very long time, and for a good portion of that time, not a whole lot has changed about their base design. There’s a good reason for that. Glasses are convenient, easy to carry, and can be very easily put on or taken off as needed.
  2. Glasses also are easy and inexpensive to clean, and you don’t need to actually touch your eyes when putting them on or taking them off. A single pair of glasses can also last for a much longer time than even the longest-lasting types of contact lenses, making them more cost effective. If your prescription remains unchanged and you are careful with your glasses, a single pair can last a lifetime. 
  3. Since glasses don’t require anything touching your eye, the chances of eye infection are incredibly low, and glasses, since they go in front of your eyes, can even provide some measure of protection from the environment (such as if there is dust in the air.)
  4. Glasses have another big advantage over contact lenses, in the area of lens options. With glasses, you can get photochromic lenses (which automatically darken in bright environments), and can offer UV protection of not just the inside of the eye, but the exterior and eyelids as well. This is something that contact lenses cannot do.
  5. Glasses can also provide a measure of blue light and glare protection while you are looking at a screen. Considering that we spend more time than ever in front of screens today, this can be a big deal.
  6. Glasses, being something that is visibly worn on your face, can also be a fashion statement, with many hundreds of different frame designs to choose from.

 

Advantages of Contact Lenses

Contact lenses, of course, bring their own set of advantages over glasses.

 

  1. Contact lenses sit directly on your eyes, so your vision will be unobstructed, and you will have your peripheral vision covered as well.
  2. Contact lenses won’t get in the way or be at risk of falling out while you’re engaging in activities like sports.
  3. Generally, contact lenses are unaffected by outside conditions (they won’t fog up when it’s cold, or while you’re wearing a mask.)
  4. You don’t have to worry about how they look, or how well they’ll match your outfit, since they’re invisible.
  5. While contact lenses don’t offer you an opportunity to accessorize, that doesn’t mean you can't be creative with them. You can try out color contacts, which can enhance your look or even give your eyes a completely new color!
  6. Finally, certain contact lens types can be worn overnight. One such type is orthokeratology (ortho-k) lenses, which are only worn at night and reshape the cornea so you don’t need to wear contacts during the day. There are also contact lenses that are meant to be worn for extended periods, including while asleep.

 

Advantages of Contact Lenses
Disadvantages of Glasses

Disadvantages of Glasses

While glasses bring a lot to the table, they have some limitations and disadvantages, which is part of the reason contact lenses were created in the first place.

 

  1. The biggest single disadvantage of glasses is the simple fact that they have to be worn on the face. This can be an issue for people leading active lifestyles which bring increased risk of the glasses falling off or otherwise getting damaged. 
  2. In addition glasses can shatter if impacted by a fast moving object, while not common this can lead to getting shattered glass in the eye. 
  3. For some people, wearing glasses for extended periods can grow a bit uncomfortable due to the frames exerting pressure on the nose and behind the ears.
  4. For some, glasses might look unappealing on their face, particularly if you have a strong prescription necessitating thicker lenses.
  5. Glasses are also more subject to environmental conditions such as the cold, which can lead to fogging of the lenses (and the masks so many of us wear now can also lead to fogging). On a hot day as well, glasses may become more unforgettable as you sweat and they shift on your face.
  6. Another limitation of the design of glasses is that since they sit in front of your eyes, they don’t help your peripheral vision, which can be an issue for some people.
Disadvantages of Glasses

Disadvantages of Contact Lenses

While contact lenses hold several key advantages over glasses, they are not perfect replacements, or else everyone would use them in place of glasses.

 

  1. The very selling point of contact lenses, that they sit directly on the eyes, can also be a downside for some for a couple of reasons. Because you need to place them on your eyes, that means you need to bring your hands close to your eyes much more often than you would if you wore glasses. This greatly increases the risk of eye infection, a risk which grows if proper lens care and hygiene isn’t maintained.
  2. Putting in contact lenses can also be a challenge for some people (though in most cases, it is easy to learn.)
  3. The increased maintenance required by contact lenses can also be a negative for some people, whereas glasses are very easy and quick to clean and put on. Also, because of the cleaning products required, and the regular replacement of contact lenses, they are likely to be more expensive over time than a single pair of glasses you can wear every day without fail.
  4. Additionally, patients are more likely to experience eye discomfort while wearing contact lenses, particularly patients who have sensitive eyes or suffer from dry eye.
  5. Furthermore, since contact lenses reduce the natural flow of oxygen to the eye, eye doctors recommend that people who wear contact lenses switch to wearing glasses one day a week or in the evening hours. 

The Decision is Yours

Ultimately, the decision of glasses versus contacts is one of personal preference. Both provide effective vision correction, so it does not make a difference, in the medical sense, what you choose. Many people even use both. What is important is making sure that whatever you do use, you use correctly. This means properly maintaining your glasses or contacts (especially important with contacts), and making sure your prescriptions are up to date so that you have the proper strength to provide you with the assistance you need.

Advantages of Contact Lenses

Common Questions

Are glasses better for my eyes than contact lenses? Answer: This isn't really a yes or no question. Some people fare better with glasses, while some with contacts, while others wear both equally. It depends on the patients needs and which option is the best way to address them. Different strokes for different folks as they say. Each one comes with its list of pros and cons but ultimately this should decided with your physician.
If you wear contacts longer than recommended then this places you at a greater risk for developing contact lens associated eye infections and complications which can lead to permanent vision loss. It can result in scratches on your cornea, corneal ulcers, new blood vessels to grow on your eye, and make your eyes feel irritated, uncomfortable and painful. Different types of contacts lenses have different disposal schedules, for instance if you have dailies you must throw them away after a single use whereas if you have monthly lenses you must not wear them longer than 30 days. Contact lenses are a medical device so it’s very important to maintain proper contact lens hygiene, don’t overwear your lenses, and listen to your eye doctor’s wear schedule guidelines.
This is determined on a case by case basis. There is no one lens that fits the best on every patient. The curvature of patients’ eyes vary, so some lenses that may fit perfectly on one person can be too tight or too loose on another patient. Also, if someone has a very high astigmatism or an eye condition called keratoconus the best type of contact lens for them would be a hard lens, such as a rigid gas permeable lens or scleral lens, whereas for another patient a daily disposable soft contact lens may be best. Thus, be sure to get a proper contact lens evaluation by your eye doctor to determine what is the best type of contact lens for you specifically.
Contacts or Glasses: Which Are Best for You?
Dr. Wernick cartoon

Summary

Both glasses and contact lenses can provide excellent vision correction, and each brings advantages to the table. At the same time, however, they each have their limitations and problems, which may be issues for wearers.

If you need vision correction, it is important to consider your lifestyle, and speak with an eye care professional, before making a decision. Additionally, bear in mind that you aren’t restricted to a binary choice here. Many people both own a pair of glasses and use contacts. Depending on what they need at a given time, they can opt for one or the other. What matters most is that you have comfortable, effective vision correction when you need it.

If you have additional questions about glasses or contact lenses, or if you wish to schedule an eye exam or contact lens exam, you can contact Amplify EyeCare Manhattan at (212) 752-6930 to make an appointment.

 

Testimonials


  • At Amplify with Dr Wernick I was seeking help for seemingly intractable, probably age-related dryness. I've seen other doctors about it, and that has been helpful, but what he explained to me about it and the careful way he answered all my questions gave me so much more of a clear understanding of what is going on (and is not) that I am more able to implement all his and others' recommendations than I was before. And he gave me additional resources for further follow-up. I am most grateful.


    Cynthia Norton

  • Wow! This is a great Eye Care medical facility. I was thoroughly examined by Dr. Pinkhasov for over 2 hours. She made sure to check my eyes for pretty much everything and patiently explained proper care for my eyes. They definitely know how to provide great care and treat their patients right. Now I know why they have such a great reputation and been around for so long.


    Steve Fay

  • Dr. Kavner is a gifted diagnostician and orthoptic therapist. He treated me several decades ago for a condition similar to dyslexia. I was having migraines five times per week. I worked with him for about a year and I experienced tremendous improvement (down to 3-4 per year) that has lasted.


    Mary K.

  • Dr. Kavner recommended two types of eye therapy for my daughter. One of them using bio-feedback. In just three sessions she is seeing considerably better. She shouted this morning: Ooh my God! I could not see these letters with my glasses on, and now I can see them without my glasses. If you are willing and able to invest in improving your vision, this is a good place to go to!


    Peter G.

  • Dr. Kavner recommended two types of eye therapy for my daughter. One of them using bio-feedback. In just three sessions she is seeing considerably better. She shouted this morning: Ooh my God! I could not see these letters with my glasses on, and now I can see them without my glasses. If you are willing and able to invest in improving your vision, this is a good place to go to!


    Kinkie F.

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