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When you need vision correction to see clearly, you’re faced with a tough question: Should you wear glasses or contact lenses?
Some people have a strong allegiance to one kind of eyewear. Others might not know about all the benefits each type can offer. However, there’s no correct choice here—opting for glasses or contacts should be a decision based on personal preference and lifestyle.
And, well, some expert advice doesn’t hurt. Here, we’ll outline the pros and cons of glasses vs. contact lenses, as well as the advantages of switching between both. Whether you’re a first-timer who just got an updated eye prescription, a contact-lens devotee, or a glasses-wearer laying awake wondering, “Should I get contacts instead?”, we’ll prepare you to pick your eyewear with confidence.
The Pros and Cons of Eyeglasses
Glasses form the foundation of the eyewear world, with a long history of protecting our eyes and enhancing our vision. They’re not for everybody, but they’re worn by more than 150 million adults in America today.
- They’re easy to wear. Glasses are straightforward. Slide them onto your face, and voila! Your eyesight is corrected, and you’re good to go.
- They clean up and store easily. Learning how to clean your glasses is a quick process that only requires a lens cleaner or lens-friendly soap and a microfiber cloth. Storage is also a breeze: just place your glasses in a protective case when you aren’t wearing them.
- They don’t need to be replaced frequently. With proper care, glasses are designed to withstand the test of time. This makes them a cost-effective investment. Of course, it’s always important to update your prescription regularly to ensure clear and comfortable vision. Fortunately, our glasses are both affordable and stylish.
- The frame options are endless. Glasses can serve as a companion piece to an outfit or a fashion statement all on their own. With so many different frame styles and colors to choose from, it’s no wonder that some people acquire a whole collection of glasses.
- You don’t need to touch your eyes to use them. Putting your glasses on does not require any direct contact with your eyeballs.
- The lenses are highly customizable. When you select lenses for your glasses, you have an abundance of options, from progressives and readers to tinted or mirror-coated sunglass lenses. There are also glasses with photochromic or light-responsive lenses, which darken automatically when exposed to ultraviolet rays. That means you essentially have a pair of sunglasses and prescription glasses in one frame, with the ability to shapeshift from one mode to another. (Contact lenses are catching up on this front, though: ACUVUE® OASYS with Transitions are contacts that can similarly transform.)
- They offer some protection from the elements. Glasses can block out some of the dust, wind, and debris that might otherwise get in your eyes. Sure, prescription lenses aren’t safety goggles, but they’re still a helpful barrier between the world and your delicate corneas.
- They don’t cover your entire field of vision. Even though glasses lenses sit in front of your eyes, they don’t entirely encompass your periphery. Sometimes, you can lose the benefit of enhanced vision when you’re peering off to the side, outside the range of your frames.
- They’re more expensive than contacts to replace if damaged or lost. Having a single pair of glasses means that you’ll have to buy new ones if those frames get lost or irreparably broken. That said, we sell our frames at affordable, budget-friendly prices.
- Some people find them uncomfortable. Glasses have to rest on the bridge of your nose and the tops of your ears. For most people, that’s not a problem. But for some, the pressure feels bothersome or irritating. If that’s the case for you, take your frames to an optician for an adjustment —it will likely be a quick fix! Frames need regular maintenance and may require adjustments periodically to maintain their best fit.
- Some people don’t love how they look in them. Glasses can be an acquired taste! Some people prefer not to wear them for aesthetic reasons. Although, we think anyone can pull them off 😉
- Their lenses might affect the appearance of your eyes. If you have an especially strong prescription, the lenses of your glasses can have a magnifying or minimizing effect on the view of your eyes from the outside. However, high index lenses might help mitigate this effect.
- They can fog up, smudge, and get scratched. Glasses aren’t immune from wear and tear. They can fog up when hit with a temperature differential (especially if you’re wearing a mask), and smudge or get streaky if they aren’t cleaned often. They’re also at risk of sustaining scratches, especially if they don’t come with a scratch-resistant coating. Thankfully, all of ours do!
Compared to glasses, contact lenses are a relatively recent invention. They’re technologically advanced, comfortable, and not as noticeable as glasses frames, all while providing powerful vision correction.
Now that you’ve seen the pros and cons of contacts and glasses, you may still have lingering questions about how they stack up against each other. We’ll do our best to address them here.
It depends. If you’re replacing your contact lenses often, they can be more expensive than a pair of glasses you wear for years. But, certain prescription glasses, for complex vision issues, can end up costing hundreds of dollars, often more than any kind of contact lenses.
Cost is a factor that varies with both your visual needs and your personal preferences. At the end of the day, most standard contacts and glasses aren’t priced extremely differently when you look at their yearly use.
Price will always be part of your decision when choosing between contacts and glasses, but if at all possible, it shouldn’t trump what feels and looks best to you.
Glasses have a slight advantage over contacts when it comes to screen use, if only because wearing contact lenses can exacerbate dry eye and other symptoms of computer vision syndrome.
There are also glasses lenses made specifically for computer use. If you experience eye strain after prolonged screen time, the slight boost in power built into anti-fatigue lenses can help.
No, your contact and glasses prescriptions are different. Your optometrist has to factor in different measurements for each type of eyewear, which is why you need a separate contact lens exam to determine your contact lens prescription.
Your contact prescription will include a base curve and diameter in addition to the power of vision correction needed. These numbers ensure that your contacts fit comfortably and function as they should.
Knowing how to read your eye prescription will help you to understand these measurements and how they pertain to your eyewear.
No one type of eyewear is better or healthier than another in general. Picking glasses over contacts or vice versa might suit you better as an individual, but there’s no hardline answer to the question “Are contacts better than glasses?”. That’s because we’re all walking compilations of different health needs, aesthetic tastes, and comfort levels!
There’s compromise to be had, too: More and more people are wearing both contacts and glasses regularly.
Alternating between glasses and contacts truly gives you the best of both worlds. Each kind of eyewear compensates for the drawbacks of the other, and gives you the flexibility to do whatever you’d like during the day with the clearest vision possible.
There are several ways to be a “dual wearer” and practice switching from glasses to contacts (and back again). Our one rule of thumb is that you should always have a pair of glasses on hand to serve as a backup to your contacts.
You might be someone who only wears contacts when glasses would be impractical: at the amusement park, during gym class, while playing sports, or snorkeling, to name just a few examples.
Perhaps you wear contacts on days when you feel like showing off your eye makeup, or when you want to travel especially light, without worrying about glasses or their case. Studies have shown that wearing contacts can also make people feel freer and more confident—so, you might put in your ACUVUE® OASYS 1-Day lenses for a mood boost.
Or, maybe you just like having the choice available to you. Many people opt for contacts during the day and then return to their glasses during the morning and night. Others just do what they feel, and switch between glasses and contacts spontaneously.
The point is, there’s really no right choice between the two—and in fact, choosing both nets you the best eyesight and comfort.