What Are Hybrid Contact Lenses?
Hybrid contact lenses are a cross between two different types of lenses: gas permeable (GP, or hard contacts) and silicone hydrogel (soft contacts). By combining the two types into one lens, hybrid contacts provide the clarity hard lenses are known for with the comfort associated with soft lenses. People with specific vision problems may find that hybrid lenses offer the best contact lens experience available.
A quick comparison of hard and soft lenses illustrates how hybrid contacts work. Gas permeable lenses are rigid yet porous, allowing them to provide excellent visual clarity. They allow oxygen to pass through to the cornea, or surface of the eye. They don’t affect tear production, which is important for good eye health. Hard contacts are more durable and longer-lasting than soft contacts, but they are also more expensive, harder to get used to wearing, and require more care.
Silicone hydrogel lenses are made of water-based plastics that give them a gel-like feel. Their material allows them to conform to the surface of the eye more closely than GP lenses. Soft lenses also allow oxygen to reach the cornea, and because of their flexibility and comfort, they are much more popular than hard contacts.
How Hybrid Contacts Correct Vision
The diameter of a hybrid contact lens is greater than most contact lenses. It includes two distinct zones: The central portion is a hard GP lens and the surrounding rim, or skirt, is made of soft silicone hydrogel.
The silicone hydrogel skirt keeps the hybrid lens centered on the eye comfortably while the gas permeable lens delivers sharper vision by correcting for irregularities in the cornea.
Best Candidates for Hybrid Lenses
Hybrid contacts can work for a variety of people. Choosing the lenses that best meet your vision requirements is a decision to be made in close consultation with an eye care professional.
Hybrid lenses can be a good option for people who want better vision than soft lenses can provide. Some individuals prefer the visual acuity of GP lenses but find them to be too uncomfortable on the eye. They may discover that the silicone hydrogel skirt of hybrid lenses makes the experience more comfortable.
Other applications for hybrid lenses include:
Hybrid Contact Lenses for Keratoconus
Keratoconus is a thinning of the cornea that causes its domed shape to bulge out into a cone. This change means the light rays that enter the eye are distorted. Blurry vision and sensitivity to light are two symptoms of keratoconus. The dome created by the GP section of a hybrid lens compensates for the change in the cornea’s shape while correcting the vision problem.
Hybrid Contact Lenses for Astigmatism
Astigmatism is a common condition in which the eye becomes more oval than its typical round shape. This change means light rays do not bend properly, and they fall short of or behind the retina (back of the eye) rather than onto it. This affects both near and far vision and can lead to blurriness, eye strain and eye discomfort. Hybrid contacts improve vision by focusing light rays onto the retina.
Hybrid Contact Lenses for Combined Presbyopia and Astigmatism
Presbyopia is a normal part of the aging process that makes it harder to see up-close objects clearly. Most people experience it after they turn 40 as they start having trouble with close work such as reading. People with astigmatism who develop presbyopia may be able to improve their vision with the use of hybrid lenses.
Hybrid contacts may also be prescribed for patients with flattened corneas resulting from refractive eye surgery or corneal transplants. If this is your situation, ask your eye doctor if hybrid contacts may be right for you.
FAQs About Hybrid Contact Lenses
How long do hybrid contact lenses last?
Hybrid contacts can last as long as six months. That is longer than soft lenses but shorter than hard lenses.
How much do hybrid contacts cost?
Depending on where you buy them, hybrid lenses can cost between $250 and $500 per lens. Check your health insurance policy to see if it will cover all or part of the cost. Since they are prescription lenses, you should be able to pay out-of-pocket costs with funds from your flexible spending account (FSA) or health savings account (HSA).
Can you sleep in hybrid contacts?
No, you should always remove hybrid lenses before sleeping to avoid the risk of developing an eye infection.
How do I clean hybrid contact lenses?
- With the lens bowl-side-up in your palm, apply a daily cleaner for soft contact lenses.
- Use the pad of your ring finger to gently rub back and forth on both sides of the lens.
- Rinse the lens with saline solution and store it in fresh disinfecting solution in a clean lens case.
- Repeat with your other lens
You will be wearing the same pair of hybrid lenses for many months, so it’s important to clean them at the end of each day. This will help prevent bacterial growth that could lead to an eye infection. Start with clean hands, and then:
How do I insert hybrid contact lenses?
Your eye care provider will instruct you on the correct application procedure, but these are the basic steps:
- Wash your hands thoroughly in warm water and dry them on a clean, lint-free towel.
- Place a mirror on a flat surface and stand over it.
- Pinch together your thumb, index and middle fingers and balance the first lens on top.
- Fill the lens with preservative-free saline.
- Lean over the mirror, place the fingers of your free hand just above your upper eyelashes and pull up on the eyelid.
- Place the lens gently on the eye.
- Repeat the process with the second lens.
How do I remove hybrid contact lenses?
Ask your eye care provider to go over how to remove your hybrid contacts. A typical routine is:
- Starting with clean, dry fingers, pull your upper eyelid back.
- Pull down your lower lid with your free hand.
- With fingertips at the 5 o’clock and 7 o’clock positions on the lens, apply slight pressure.
- Roll your fingertips together and back toward your palm.
- Dry your fingers on a clean towel before removing the second lens.
- Repeat the process for lens two.
Are Hybrid Lenses Right for You?
If, after reading this, you think you may be a good candidate for hybrid contact lenses, contact your eye doctor. They’ll likely want you to come in for a comprehensive eye exam to check the health of your eyes, get a more current vision prescription for you, and do a contact lens fitting to determine if hybrid lenses will be a good fit.