Contacts or Glasses: Which Is Better for Your Eyes?

contacts or glasses

Around 42% of Americans live with nearsightedness. Even more people use some kind of vision correction.

That means that tens of millions of people out make the choice between contacts or glasses. Yet, how often do you really consider which is better for your eyes?

Probably not that often. If you’re like most people, you probably spend more time making sure your insurance covers those frames or that brand of contact lenses.

If that sounds like you, keep reading as we cover some of the pros and cons of glasses vs contacts.

Eyestrain

Eyestrain happens when your eyes get tired from overuse. For example, staring at a computer screen all day and working when over-tired can cause it.

Some of the common symptoms include:

  • blurry vision
  • light sensitivity
  • headaches
  • concentration problems
  • sore neck
  • dry eyes

Glasses and contacts don’t directly cause eyestrain unless the prescription is wrong. Contacts can, however, make the symptoms of eyestrain worse.

Glasses won’t make the symptoms worse, but they won’t help the symptoms either.

Infections

Think about everything you touch during a normal day. Even if you wash your hands on a regular basis, it’s not hard to imagine something unpleasant on your fingers.

Contact lens wearers run the risk of eye infections. It’s simply a matter of odds. Putting contacts in requires that you touch your eyes over and over again.

The most likely infection you face is keratitis. It’s a treatable condition but can cause corneal scarring in more extreme cases.

Glasses don’t create a substantial risk of eye infections. Most people avoid touching the lenses of their glasses and lenses rarely touch the eyes. Without that direct contact, infectious bacteria or viruses can’t get a foothold on the corneas.

Protection

It doesn’t take much for an eye to get injured. Everything from impacts to flying debris can scratch or damage the eyes.

Contact lenses provide no meaningful protection from eye injuries. They can make wearing protective goggles easier, but only if you remember.

One of the options you get with glasses is the choice of lens materials, including polycarbonate lenses. Polycarbonate lenses offer 10x the impact resistance of other lens materials. As an added bonus, polycarbonate also has good shatter resistance.

Glasses with polycarbonate lenses offer you eye protection whenever you wear them. For most people, that amounts to most of their waking hours.

For anyone who works in an environment where flying debris is common glasses can save your vision. On a construction site, for example, you often see wood chips flying around near saws. While protective eyewear is common on construction sites, the second layer of protection never hurts.

Peripheral Vision

One thing all glasses wearers share in common is that glasses don’t help their peripheral vision. Glancing left or right just gives you a blurry impression of what is around you.

In addition, the frames themselves actually obstruct your existing peripheral vision a little.

Since contact lenses sit directly on the eye, they correct your peripheral vision.

This difference doesn’t usually matter in daily activities. It can prove important if you play sports in your spare time.

Clear peripheral vision often helps you keep an eye on teammates. It also helps with ball passing.

Allergies and Dry Eyes

Most of the body gets oxygen directly from your blood. It nourishes muscle, skin, and your brain.

Eyes, however, get oxygen straight from the air around us. Even contacts made for good breathability cut down on the oxygen your eyes can absorb.

For anyone with allergies or chronic dry eyes, contacts can make the problems worse. You might find your eyes feeling extra scratchy or irritated. That often makes people rub their eyes, which makes the issue worse.

Since glasses sit away from the eyes, they don’t inhibit the airflow. The eyes can absorb oxygen freely.

Again, this won’t improve the normal symptoms of allergies or dry eyes. Glasses also won’t make them any worse.

Style

Style isn’t a health concern, but many people worry about aesthetics. Some people simply don’t look good in glasses, no matter what frames they pick. Others look great in glasses.

In terms of pure style, the glasses or contact lenses question comes down to the individual. How much do you care about appearances and which options favors your features more?

Both glasses and contact lenses provide you with options for showing off your individual style on, for example, a blind date. Your glasses can show your hipster cred or reflect a sleek minimalism.

On the contacts side of contacts vs glasses, colored lenses can make your natural eye color stand out even more. If you don’t like your eye color, you can use contacts to go with a different color.

Convenience

Contacts probably win on even the convenience front.

When you first get up in the morning, glasses offer a lot more convenience. You just put them on and instant clear vision.

Contacts require a whole process of putting them in before you get clear vision. That can prove very inconvenient on days when you oversleep.

Over the course of the day, contacts prove more convenient. You probably won’t think about them at all unless you get something in your eye.

Glasses can get smudged or pick up dust. So you’ll probably end up cleaning them several times a day.

They can also get knocked off if someone bumps into you or your trip. Not a problem you face with contacts.

Parting Thoughts on Contacts or Glasses

Several factors play a role in deciding whether contacts or glasses are better for you eyes.

Contacts can exacerbate allergies, dry eyes, and eyestrain. They offer no protection for your eyes in terms of impact or debris in the air. Contacts also increase the chances of eye infections.

Glasses don’t correct your peripheral vision. They can also prove inconvenient in a number of ways.

Both glasses and contacts can let you express your personal style.

In terms of pure eye health, though, glasses probably are better for your eyes.

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