Eye Health Central

Silicone hydrogel contact lenses

Considering silicone hydrogel contact lenses?

Silicone Contact Lenses

Thanks to its enhanced breathability, silicone hydrogel is quickly becoming a favoured material in the soft contact lens industry. By allowing more oxygen to flow into the eyes, these silicone hydrogel lenses prevent serious corneal disorders like complications from not getting enough air to the cornea.In fact, silicone hydrogel lenses enable up to five times more oxygen to reach the cornea than regular hydrogel lenses.

In addition to their breathability, silicone hydrogel contacts are far better at retaining water than typical soft lenses. This makes them an ideal choice for people who struggle with conditions like dry eye syndrome.

People who struggle with eye allergies or dry eyes should ask their optometrist for his/her opinion on silicone hydrogel contacts. You could also learn more about these lenses by visiting our silicone hydrogel line on this link

Silicone hydrogel is a soft material that was first launched on the contact lenses market in the late 1990s. Today, contact lenses made from this material are the most popular choice amongst those in need of vision correction and options are available to cater for a variety of vision problems, including myopia and hypermetropia, as well as astigmatism.

What Is Silcone Hydrogel?

Hydrogel - a soft plastic that contains water - has been used in the manufacture of contacts since the 1970s and was a favourite choice due to its comfortable quality. With the addition of silicone in 1999, the lenses became more gas permeable, meaning that oxygen could pass through them and ensure better health of the cornea underneath.

Today, there are around 20 different types of formulations. The main difference being length of time they can be worn - some are only suitable for overnight wear, while others can be left in for up to 30 days.

The benefits of silicone hydrogel contact lenses

Before hydrogel was in common use, contact lenses were usually hard lenses that were not gas permeable. Next came soft contact lenses that allowed a limited amount of oxygen to get to your eyes, which limited wearing times and could cause redness.

Silicone hydrogel is a 'next generation' material - a very soft material that is extremely comfortable to wear and lets the most amount of oxygen to the eyes compared to any other contact lens material. The result - healthy eyes!

Unlike earlier types of contact lenses, most new wearers need no time to get used to them, as they can hardly be felt once inserted. The soft nature of these contacts also means that they generally stay in place better than their rigid lens predecessors.

Are Silicone Hydrogel Contact Lenses For You?

Most optometrists and ophthalmologists agree that the most obvious benefit of silicone hydrogel lenses is the reduction of hypoxia-related problems associated with soft lenses made of regular hydrogel materials.

This likely has resulted in fewer contact lens-related red eyes, discomfort and serious keratitis problems from wearing contacts for extended periods of time.

It's also likely that due to their increased oxygen transmissibility, silicone hydrogel lenses have enabled many people to comfortably wear contacts for longer hours than they could have with regular hydrogel lenses. If you have occupation, for example a casualty Doctor or a fireman where you are likely to be called upon to cover longer hours at short notice, then the added security of a silicone lens, that allows for extra oxygen to reach your eyes, might be a sensible choice.

Silicone hydrogel materials also have enabled contact lens manufacturers to create a wider variety of lens designs while enabling a healthy amount of oxygen to reach the cornea for safe and comfortable daily or continuous wear.

However, silicone hydrogel lenses have not solved contact lens discomfort problems altogether, and, in fact, some people may experience more lens awareness when wearing silicone hydrogel lenses than when wearing regular hydrogel lenses. Silicone itself is hydrophobic i.e does not bind well with water, so silicone in a lens often results in the customer being more aware, not less, of their contact lenses. Manufacturers have overcome this problem by introducing various moisturizing ingredients into the contact lens to increase the comfort levels or in the case of Alcon's Dailies Total One, created a three layer lens, with a silicone core of 33% water content that allows maximum oxygen transmission through the lens, sandwiched between a ultrasoft, high water content (> 80%) surface gel which provides exceptional comfort.

Total Dailies One

Some studies have shown that silicone hydrogel lenses are more prone to certain types of contact lens deposits than regular hydrogel lenses, and some contact lens solutions may be less effective on silicone hydrogel lenses than they are on regular soft lenses. Once again manufacturers have worked hard to introduce materials to their lenses that minimise surface deposits. For example Crystal Comfort is a silicone lens which incorporates a state of the art surface coating that offers a unique wearing experience so that the lenses have a silky feel all day.

f you're ready to buy a pair of Silicone Contact lenses contact lenses, Contactlenses.co.uk can help you find the perfect pair. Our collection includes a variety of items from trusted manufacturers, including Daily silicone lenses like Dailies Total 1 and monthly Silicone lenses like Biofinity.


Author: John Dreyer Optometrist Bsc(Hons), MCOPTOM, DipCLP
Created: 24 Apr 2015, Last modified: 4 Mar 2020