Glasses vs. Contacts - How to Know What’s Right For You

If you’re one of the 73% of Americans who need vision correction, you probably wear glasses or use contacts already. If you’re not, stop hurting your eyes and get on that!

But which corrective option is more popular?

According to the Vision Council of America, 64% of Americans that need optical help wear glasses, and about 11% of them wear contacts (either exclusively, or in conjunction with their glasses).

Which one is right for you though?

Whether you choose to wear glasses or contacts mostly depends on your own personal preference. You lifestyle, when you will be using your glasses or contacts, personal comfort, budget, and the aesthetic appearance you’d like to have, all impact this choice.

Glasses tend to be the popular choice for those who need corrective help, especially if you’re new to the world of being visually challenged. Glasses require regular cleaning but that’s significantly less maintenance than contact lenses, which require at least daily cleaning and rinsing and periodic deep disinfection. Contacts also require more frequent replacement. All of these steps are vital to avoid serious infections.

With so much to consider, here is some of our advice on making this important choice for your eyes.

A Case For Glasses

Prescription eyeglasses are a convenient, and fashionable, way to improve your vision. If you have naturally sensitive or dry eyes, glasses are less likely to exacerbate those issues. In fact, glasses can actually protect your eyes from harsh environmental factors like wind, dust and any floating debris that might make its way to into your eyes. The only downside to this is that they can be affected by elements like steam or water as they can fog up or collect rain droplets that can be annoying when you’re hustling in the a downpour.

If you decide to add photochromic lenses into the mix, they’ll block 100% of harmful UV rays that could damage your eyes and, because glasses shield the exterior of the eye and eyelid, you’ll be covered all around. Wearing glasses also drastically reduces the need to touch your actual eyeball (as you may need to regularly do if you wear contacts) which can lessen the likelihood of irritating your eyes or causing a nasty infection.

Glasses also tend to be more cost effective in the long run than contacts as they don’t need to be replaced unless you accidentally break them or your script changes (in which case you can always opt to have just the lenses replaced instead of the frames too).

Other Factors to Consider

Because glasses don’t actually touch your eyes (they sit about ½ an inch away from your eyeball) your peripheral vision may be lightly distorted, especially while you’re breaking them in and your eyes are adjusting to their newfound clarity, particularly if you have a strong prescription or astigmatism.

Glasses are generally very comfortable and easy to wear, when they are fit properly by a trained optometrist. This is one of the many reasons it is always better to buy glasses in person rather than online. Overall a great pair of glasses can truly amplify your style. With thousands of frame designs, it’s possible that you just haven’t found the right pair that works best for your unique face. Working with a professional eyewear stylist can help change the way you see yourself in glasses. Pun, absolutely intended. 

What About Contacts?

The other daily option to explore in the realm of corrective vision is contact lenses. Contacts conform to the curvature of your eye, and move with your eye, so you’ll experience less distortion than with glasses and have a clear, wider field of view. However if your contacts aren’t fit right or are in need of replacement they may dry out or shift causing blurriness.

Probably the most common reason people choose contacts is that contacts won’t change your appearance in any way (no eye size illusions or clashing with your outfit), unless you use colored contacts for fun.

They’re also unaffected by light and weather, so you won’t deal with glare or fogged lenses when you enter a warm building after being in the cold. Another plus? Not having an accessory on your face means you’re free to go running without worrying they’ll fall off. You also don’t have to take them off and put them back on if you decide it’s a ponytail kind of day.

You can also be free to wear whatever sunglasses you want to without having to worry about keeping track of your regular glasses as well as prescription sunglasses, and you won’t have to worry about them breaking.

There’s also another kind of contact called “Ortho-K” contacts. These are a bit different than regular contacts as they are not for daytime wear. Ortho-K contacts are worn overnight, allowing them to reshape your cornea while you’re asleep so you don’t have to wear any contacts or glasses throughout the following day. Ortho-k is an FDA approved, non-surgical means to improving your eyesight. 

 Are There Any Downsides to Wearing Contacts?

Proper care is everything with contacts. According to the American Optometric Association, about 45 million Americans choose to wear contacts. However, 45% of them don’t replace their lenses as often as they should, and 6 of every 7 lens-wearers admit to at least one regular practice that puts them in serious danger of infection.

Additionally, it’s reported that 1 in every 500 contact-wearers contracts a serious eye infection that could lead to blindness ever year. Contacts can also cause (or worsen, if you’re already prone to) “dry eyes” since they are directly covering your eyes which reduces the amount of oxygen reaching them.

You may also experience dry, irritated, sandy-feeling, red eyes if you fall asleep wearing daily lenses.  If this is a reoccurring issue for you, you might want to consider extended wear contacts which you can wear for up to 30 days, although you may still want to take them out occasionally, just to let your eyes breathe.

If you work at a computer and experience any symptoms of “computer vision syndrome” contacts may also amplify those symptoms. You will also want to consider that even if you plan to wear contacts, you should still keep an up-to-date pair of glasses on hand in case you get an eye infection, your eyes feel irritated or like they need a break, or if you’re sick (germy hands + directly touching your eye = bad).

Remember You’re Not On Your Own

Whether you decide to wear glasses or contacts is ultimately up to your personal preference, what you feel is going to be most convenient for you, and whether or not you feel more comfortable wearing something over your eyes or directly on them. You should also be honest about your own ability or willingness to stay on top of proper care. In either case, always consult your optometrist about all of your questions and concerns with your vision or new corrective eyewear.