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Contact lenses

What are contact lenses?

Replacing glasses with contact lenses, changing your appearance.

They're also known as Contacts or Daily disposables.

What do contact lenses do?

  • Face

    Changes appearance

  • Eyes

    Changes colour or makes iris bigger

How long do contact lenses last?

The effects last only while the contact lenses are worn.

How do I stay safe?


Contact lenses require careful handling, storage and cleaning in order to prevent eye infections.

You must follow the instructions given by your optometrist (optician). Always wash your hands before inserting or removing contact lenses, but do not dry them with a towel.

What kinds are there?

Contact lenses are available in several types:

  • Cosmetic contact lenses do not always correct for vision problems, but change the colour of the iris (coloured area of the eye). These include circle contact lenses, which make the iris look bigger by making it appear to extend into the scelera (white part of the eye).
  • Daily disposable lenses or “daily wear” lenses are designed to be worn once only and taken out before sleeping. These types of lenses are often more comfortable than lenses designed for longer use, and do not require any cleaning as they are disposed immediately after used.
  • Overnight lenses or extended wear lenses are designed to be worn for a longer period. Other lenses may be worn for up to two to four weeks. These lenses require regular cleaning: the optomotrist (optician) will explain how to clean them.
  • Spherical lenses can correct for myopia (short-sightedness, i.e. inability to clearly see things in the distance) and hypermetropia (long-sightedness, i.e. inability to clearly see things close by), but cannot correct for astigmatism (where the lens does not focus evenly).
  • Toric lenses are able to correct for astigmatism combined with myopia or hypermetropia. They are able to do this because they are designed to have a heavier edge which naturally rotates to the bottom of the eye. If the head is tilted, the lenses will no longer correct the astigmatism.
  • Multifocal lenses are able to correct for presbyopia (needing a different prescription for reading than the prescription required for distance vision) in a similar way to bifocal or multifocal glasses.

Are there other options?

A more permanent alternative to contact lenses for some people is laser eye surgery.

Where can I learn more?

You can read more about how to use contact lenses safely at the NHS website.

Errors and omissions

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