In the selection of contact lenses, hard or soft contact lenses is a choice as old as paper or plastic grocery bags. Most contact lenses are made of plastic. They are either a rigid gas permeable "hard' contact lens, or a softer, gel-like "soft" contact lens. These days, thanks to advances in contact lens technology, comfort is one of the main factors that informs this choice.
Rigid gas permeable lenses are smaller than soft contact lenses. These lenses are healthier for your cornea than soft lenses because they allow more oxygen to pass through to your cornea, allowing it to breathe. This reduces the chance for corneal irritation. Gas permeable lenses are also easier to care for than soft lenses.
By contrast, soft lenses are thin and gel-like, so they conform to the shape of your eye. These lenses are more flexible than gas permeable lenses, however they do not allow your eye to breathe, which increases the chances for corneal irritation. Various types of soft lenses include single-use lenses, daily lenses that may be used up to four weeks and extended-wear contact lenses.
Hybrid lenses are designed for persons who require rigid gas permeable lenses but cannot become used to wearing them. A hybrid lens has a rigid gas permeable centre that is ringed by a soft contact. These lenses provide the benefits of a hard lens with the comfort of a soft lens.
If comfort is the primary factor in choosing a contact lens, then soft contacts are the most comfortable on the market. Soft contacts are flexible, and require a shorter adjustment period for wearing. By contrast, hard contacts are less comfortable initially. While hard contacts can be just as comfortable in the long run, persons who wear them are also more prone to sensitivity to dust and other eye irritants.