Key Difference: Glasses also known as spectacles, specs or eyeglasses are frames that bear lenses and are worn in front of the eyes for correcting vision. On the other hand, contact lenses are lenses that are directly placed on the cornea of eyes.
Glasses and Contact Lenses are different types of prescribed eye wear. A person who has vision defects such as nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism can use these to help correct their vision. Choosing between glasses and contacts depends on a person’s point of view and comfort, but a person should keep in mind that they are both temporary forms of correction methods, while a more permanent method would be Lasik or corrective surgery.
Glasses also known as spectacles, specs or eyeglasses are frames that bear lenses and are worn in front of the eyes for correcting vision. Other types of glasses are known as sunglasses and safety glasses are used to protect the eyes from sun, debris, UV rays, dust, etc. Glasses usually have a nose pad to support the glasses on the bridge of the nose and keep it from slipping and temple arms that are placed over the ears to keep the glasses upright on the face.
The earliest forms of using glass for magnification purposes has been dated back to ancient Egyptian times in the 5th century B.C. However, according to reports the first eyeglass was developed in Italy in 1286 A.D. by Dominican friar Giordano da Pisa. These early spectacles, in the 13th and 14th century, had convex lenses that could correct both hyperopia (farsightedness), and the presbyopia, which develops as a person ages.
Other types of glasses include safety glasses, (snow goggles, sunglasses) 3D glasses, ready-made reading glasses, bifocals and bioptics. Sunglasses usually have a tinted lens to protect the eyes against sunlight and UV rays; it is available with or without corrective lens. Snow goggles and water goggles are usually available without prescribed lens and are used to keep the snow or water out of the eyes. 3D glasses are used to give the illusion of three dimensions on a two dimensional object. Ready-made reading glasses are available over the counter and in a strengths ranging from 1.00 to 3.50. Bifocals are used to correct nearsightedness and farsightedness.
On the other hand, contact lenses are lenses that are directly placed on the cornea of eyes. Contacts can also be used for cosmetic or therapeutic reasons. Originally, Leonardo Da Vinci is credited with the idea of the contacts in 1508, but the first successful contacts were developed by German ophthalmologist, Adolf Gaston Eugen Fick in 1887. These lenses were developed using heavy blown glass and was 18-21mm in diameter and the empty space between cornea and the lens was filled with dextrose (glucose) solution. Originally lenses were scleral lenses, which meant that they covered the sclera and created a tear-filled vault over the cornea. The lenses were made of full blown glass until the 1930s when PMMA or Plexiglas lens allowed production of plastic lens.
The first “corneal” lenses were developed in 1949 and were much small compared to the sclera lens. The PMMA lenses were pretty expensive and fragile and were known as hard lens. A drawback of hard lens was that it was not breathable, meaning it did not allow oxygen to be transmitted through the lens to the cornea. The constant development for more comfortable and breathable lens has resulted in today’s soft lenses.
The different types of lenses includes corrective, X-Chrom, cosmetic, and therapeutic. Corrective lens are available in clear or color. These lenses are usually prescribed and are used correct vision problems such as farsightedness, nearsightedness and astigmatism. X-Chrom lens are used by people with color blindness, though it does not restore normal color vision, it helps distinguish colors better. Cosmetic lens are usually colored lens that allows a person to temporarily change their cornea’s color and may also include corrective measures. Therapeutic lens are soft lenses that are used to treat and manage non-refractive disorders of the eye. A bandage contact lens protects a person’s injured or damaged eye from constant rubbing and blinking.
Lenses are disposable, but the time frame depends on the development of the lens. The dispose schedule ranges from daily, weekly, monthly to yearly. Glasses on the other hand do not need to be constantly replaced, but will have to be changed if a person’s prescription changes. Glasses are also inconvenient during vigorous sports and in constant cold temperatures. However, contacts need more care compared to glasses as they are directly placed on the eye, and has more chances of infecting.
Glasses or spectacles are frames bearing lenses worn in front of the eyes, normally for vision correction, eye protection, or for protection from UV rays.
A contact lens is a corrective, cosmetic, or therapeutic lens usually placed on the cornea of the eye.
Dominican friar Giordano da Pisa in 1286 A.D. in Italy
First successful lens were invented by German ophthalmologist, Adolf Gaston Eugen Fick in 1887
Corrective, Safety, Sunglasses, 3D Glasses, Reading Glasses, Bifocals, Progressive, Bioptics
Corrective, Cosmetic, XChrom, Soflens, Hard lens, Therapeutic
Wipe down with soft cloth to rid of germs and dirt, place the glasses with lens facing up to keep from scratches
Submerge in solution when not worn, must be disposed periodically, use cleaning solution to disinfect before wearing
Depending on type from $30 - $300 a box of six lenses.
Ranging from $20 to $1,000 depending on style, eye problems and store.
In a rectangular or cylindrical case
A flat case with two cylindrical sections to hold each case with the solution
Depends on condition, may require changing if eye prescription changes
Depends on type of contacts, could be daily, monthly, yearly etc
14 hours continuously in a day
Different types, styles and shapes, give a more sophisticated look, no permanent damage to the eye
Gives more natural vision, easier to use for sports and in rain, no reflections, no fogging, comfortable, can match any style of clothing
Reflections, poor side vision, constant awareness of the frame, periodic adjustments are required, fog up with changing temperature, not suitable for sporting activities
allergies to chemicals contained by maintenance solutions, conjunctivitis, cracks in the lenses, irritation, protein deposits on the lens, damage of the top layer of the cornea by the lens that is not well placed, eye irritation, dryness
Wouldn't You Rather Wear Contacts
Do you wear glasses? If so, you may not realize what contact lenses, and especially GP contacts, can offer you. Here's a comparison chart to help you decide which vision option is best for you. (Many people choose both!)
|The distance between your eye and the lens sometimes creates distortion.||Worn right on the eye, for more natural vision.|
|Poor peripheral (side) vision.||Your entire field of view is in focus. This is especially important in sports and in driving, where you need to see as much around you as possible.|
|Constant awareness of frame and lens edge, as well as reflections off the backside of the lens.||With contacts, no annoying obstructions or reflections are in view.|
|Uncomfortable weight on your face and ears. Periodic need for tightening or other adjustment.||No weight and resulting discomfort. No frame constantly slipping down your nose.|
|Glasses fog up with changes in temperature.||Contacts don't fog up.|
|Glasses are a distraction during games and sports.||No distractions, which makes contact lenses a favorite among athletes.|
|Fashionable and inexpensive non-prescription sunglasses are not an option if you wear eyeglasses.||A whole wardrobe of fashionable, functional, affordable sunglasses is available to contact lens wearers.|
|Glasses need to complement your outfit. For instance, casual frames may not suit evening attire. Or colors may clash.||Contacts match everything you wear.|
|Eyeglasses are annoying to wear in rain or snow.||Contact lenses won't collect precipitation and blur your vision.|
|Glasses are an unnatural, distracting barrier between your eyes and the world.||Contacts don't detract from your natural appearance; they let people see your eyes.|
There are many differences between glasses and contact lenses, but there are some similarities, too:
Both require careful handling and cleaning.
Glasses must be sprayed and wiped several times a day, while contacts need varying degrees of care, depending on the type. GP contact lenses are particularly fast and easy to clean.
Both can correct astigmatism.
Astigmatism is an irregular cornea shape that distorts vision. Many people think only glasses can correct astigmatism, but contact lenses do as well. GP contacts are often preferred for correcting astigmatism because they hold their shape, thereby retaining the proper visual correction, better than soft lenses.
Both are affordable.
When you consider that you wear glasses or contact lenses every single day of your life, the amount you spend on them is far less than for any other item in your wardrobe. Considering how important they are to the quality of your life, they're invaluable.
Since glasses have few, if any, advantages over contact lenses, you may decide to throw yours away!
But if you're still undecided about which vision option is best for you, talk it over with your eye care practitioner.
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[Page updated February 2013]