Skip to Content

What are enhanced contact lenses?

Contact lenses have come a long way since they were first invented in the late 19th century. While originally designed solely to correct vision, today’s contact lenses can do so much more. Enhanced contact lenses are integrated with advanced technologies that enable them to provide features beyond basic vision correction. Keep reading to learn all about the different types of enhanced contact lenses and what they can do.

Vision Correcting Contact Lenses

The core function of any contact lens remains correcting refractive errors like nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism. Contact lenses correct vision by bending light before it enters the eye, ensuring it is properly focused on the retina. Here are the main types of vision correcting contact lenses:

  • Soft lenses – Made of soft, pliable plastics that allow oxygen to pass through to the cornea. Most popular type of lens today.
  • Rigid gas permeable (RGP) – Made of rigid, durable plastics that hold their shape. Allow excellent oxygen flow to cornea.
  • Toric lenses – Correct astigmatism by having different prescriptions in different meridians of the lens.
  • Multifocal lenses – Correct presbyopia by having different zones for distance, intermediate and near vision.

Cosmetic Contact Lenses

Cosmetic contact lenses aim to enhance the appearance of the eye itself. They come in a wide variety of designs and colors. Here are some of the most popular types of cosmetic lenses:

  • Opacity changing lenses – Can make light eyes appear darker or dark eyes appear lighter.
  • Color lenses – Opaque lenses that totally mask the natural eye color with a vivid hue.
  • Patterned lenses – Feature designs like animal prints, abstract patterns or radial bursts.
  • Jeweled lenses – Mimic the sparkle and shine of precious stones and jewels.

Therapeutic Contact Lenses

Therapeutic contact lenses are medically prescribed to aid in the treatment of certain eye conditions. Some examples include:

  • Bandage lenses – Help the cornea heal after injury, surgery or infection.
  • Drug delivery lenses – Disperse medication slowly on the eye’s surface over time.
  • Prosthetic lenses – Improve vision and comfort in people with corneal irregularities.

Smart Contact Lenses

Smart contact lenses represent the future of wearable technology. They contain advanced electronics that give them high-tech capabilities. Some potential features of smart contact lenses include:

  • Continuous glucose monitoring – Test tears for glucose to track blood sugar levels.
  • Virtual displays – Project images and data directly into the visual field.
  • Eye-tracking – Detect eye movements and track where the user is looking.
  • Zoom magnification – Adjust the focal length to provide temporary macro vision.

While still largely conceptual, smart contact lens technology holds incredible promise for healthcare, augmented reality and vision enhancement applications.

Extended Wear Contact Lenses

Standard contact lenses are designed for daily wear and removal each night. Extended wear lenses allow for prolonged, continuous wear including while sleeping. There are two main types:

  • Continuous wear – Approved for 6 nights and 7 days of continuous usage.
  • Prolonged wear – Approved for up to 30 days and nights of continuous usage.

Candidates for extended wear lenses must undergo additional fitting and evaluation to determine safety and suitability.

Orthokeratology Contact Lenses

Ortho-k lenses are rigid contact lenses worn overnight to temporarily reshape the cornea in order to reduce myopia and astigmatism. In the morning, the lenses are removed and clear unaided vision is achieved usually for the whole day.

The ortho-k treatment involves an initial fitting period of gradually increasing nightly wear time over several weeks. Once the cornea has been reshaped, maintenance lens wear is required only about 2-4 nights per week.

Scleral Contact Lenses

Scleral lenses are large diameter rigid gas permeable lenses that vault over the entire cornea and rest on the sclera, the white portion of the eye. They are often prescribed for severe dry eye, irregular corneas, and vision correction challenges that other lens types cannot adequately address.

Proper scleral lens fitting requires expertise and patience to achieve optimal visual acuity and comfortable wear. These lenses must be regularly removed, cleaned and disinfected due to their large size.

Benefits of Enhanced Contact Lenses

Enhanced contact lenses provide many advantages over eyeglasses and traditional contact lenses:

  • Cosmetic appeal
  • Unrestricted peripheral vision
  • Less risk of loss or damage compared to glasses
  • Therapeutic effects for certain conditions
  • High oxygen permeability for corneal health
  • Invisible look that glasses can’t provide
  • No fogging in wet conditions
  • Versatile vision correction options
  • Advanced features like drug delivery and display projections

Considerations for Enhanced Contact Lens Wear

While contact lenses provide many perks, there are also important factors to keep in mind:

  • Higher initial cost than eyeglasses
  • Ongoing supply costs for solutions and replacement
  • Daily cleaning and disinfecting regimen required
  • Increased infection risk if not properly cared for
  • Can cause dryness, discomfort or irritation if unsuitable fit
  • May not be advisable with certain eye diseases or injuries
  • Require regular evaluation visits to eye care provider

Are Enhanced Contact Lenses Right for You?

If you are considering enhanced contact lenses, discuss the pros and cons with your eye doctor. They will evaluate your ocular health, needs and habits to determine if contact lenses may be a good choice. Prescribing any type of contact lens requires detailed measurements, trial fittings and patient training.

Be sure to follow your eye care provider’s instructions for insertion and removal, wearing schedule, cleaning regimen and replacement timeline. Also monitor vision comfort and report any worrisome changes immediately. With professional guidance and diligent care, enhanced contact lenses can safely deliver amazing benefits and freedom!

Frequently Asked Questions

How are enhanced contact lenses different from regular contacts?

Enhanced contact lenses incorporate special technologies and serve purposes beyond simply correcting refractive errors. Features like toric, multifocal and cosmetic designing improve vision and appearance. Therapeutic lenses aid medical treatment. Smart lenses provide high-tech capabilities through sensors, displays and drug delivery.

What are the main types of enhanced contact lenses?

The major types include cosmetic lenses, therapeutic lenses, smart lenses, extended wear lenses, orthokeratology lenses and scleral lenses. Each utilizes unique materials, designs and fitting approaches tailored to their specific purpose.

What are some benefits of enhanced contact lenses?

Benefits include aesthetics, unhindered fields of view, therapeutic effects for certain conditions, excellent oxygen permeability for corneal health, and advanced functions like drug delivery and display projections in the case of smart lenses.

What are some risks or considerations with enhanced contacts?

Consider cost, cleaning regimens, infection control, dryness or discomfort, need for regular exams, and unsuitability with some health conditions. Proper patient selection, fitting and training help maximize benefits and minimize risks.

How can I get enhanced contact lenses?

Consult with an eye care provider about your options. Enhanced contact lens prescribing requires detailed ocular assessment, measurements, trials and patient education. Follow your eye doctor’s guidance for safe wear and care.


Enhanced contact lenses utilize cutting-edge technology to not only correct vision, but improve eye appearance, provide therapeutic effects, and even integrate high-tech capabilities. With so many types now available including cosmetic, therapeutic, smart, extended wear, orthokeratology and scleral lenses, there are options suitable for many different needs and applications. However, proper patient selection and professional fitting guidance remain critical to gain the benefits while also prioritizing ocular health. By partnering closely with your eye care provider and adhering to their recommendations, enhanced contact lenses can allow you to see and experience the world in amazing new ways!