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How are contacts made? A comprehensive guide

How are contacts made? A comprehensive guide

Gaze upon your contact lenses in wonder, for they are the result of centuries of scientific research and engineering! It can be hard to believe that those two tiny little pieces of plastic can completely change the way you see, and are nearly invisible when you wear them.


Modern contact lenses are the result of more than one hundred years of research and development. In recent years, the technology has made advancements in leaps and bounds as plastic production and molding became more widely accessible.

How are soft contact lenses made?

Each of the different types of contact lenses is produced out of a different contact lenses material and following different techniques. Soft contact lenses, which are the most common type of contact lens in the market today, are made either by lathe cutting or by injection molding:

Lathe cutting

The process of lathe cutting starts with the small disks of raw plastic material which are placed on a rotating shaft. The shaft spins the plastic material at a high velocity while automated tools carve out the shape of the lenses. Once the shape of the lens has been made, the lenses are polished and hydrated in order to arrive at the soft-contact look and feel to which wearers have been accustomed.

Injection molding

The other process for producing soft contact lenses is injection molding. In injection molding, the plastic material is superheated into molten plastic and injected into precise molds. Once the lenses have been molded and cooled, they are polished and hydrated to get their characteristic soft feel.

How are hard contact lenses made?

Hard contact lenses, such as gas permeable lenses, are made of a specific type of rigid plastic material that allows oxygen to flow freely to the eye through the lens. These types of lenses make up a small percentage of the contact lens market and are usually prescribed for specific reasons. These kinds of lenses are often made according to more precise specifications and are thus not as widely produced. These kinds of lenses are also produced according to the automated lathe cutting technique and need to be custom-made because they do not adhere to the surface of the eye in the same way as soft lenses. They are then polished and sent out to the patient.

How are colored contacts made?

Colored contact lenses, like Air Optix Colors are designed to be able to correct vision while enhancing the eye’s beauty. They are available in a full range of colors to give you the effect you're looking for in your color contact lenses.

Most mass-produced colored contact lenses tend to be made of the same material as soft contacts and are created according to the same lathe and injection molding techniques. In order to create the colored effect of the lenses, the base plastic material is tinted using a special dye while leaving a translucent space in the center of the lens that aligns perfectly with the pupils.

Hard colored contacts can be more difficult to find and more expensive than soft colored contacts, since they need to be custom made and may require multiple fitting sessions to get just right.

You can order contacts online with insurance on the ContactsDirect.com website, and have your contacts shipped straight to your door, hassle free!

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