The Difference Between a Hard and Soft Contact Lens



There are many different types of contact lenses, but the TWO MAIN CATEGORIES are Hard (also called Rigid), and Soft.

Soft Contact Lenses are by far the most popular of the two, they are mass produced in a limited set of powers and are generally one-size-fits-all.  Softs are either monthly disposable or daily disposable.  The monthlies need a solution to keep them clean & disinfected, whereas the dailies do not as they are discarded at the end of each day.

Hard Contact lenses are mainly, but not always, prescribed in cases where patients cannot wear Soft Contact Lenses.  Some examples of ideal Hard Contact Lens patients are those with Keratoconus, corneal transplant cases and high astigmatism where Soft Contacts are not available in high powers.  Hard contact lenses are custom designed and manufactured for each individual eye.  They generally last 2 years.


·         Quickly & readily available due to their off-the-rack nature.

·         Ideal for sports as they do not easily come out.

·         Generally, very comfortable.

·         Easy maintenance.

·         Most powers catered for.


·       Can dry out.

·     Not available in all powers.

·        Not suitable for cases with compromised corneas like Keratoconus or corneal transplants (that is where the hard lenses come in).

·         Non-compliance can lead to corneal ulcers.


·         Ideal for compromised corneas as mentioned above.

·         Are custom made for each individual eye.

·         They are generally more hygienic than softs, less likely to get ulcers *.

·         Better quality of vision than softs, but this dependant on some factors.

·         No limit in astigmatism powers that they can correct.


 ·         They take a while to get used to in the beginning.

·         A dry eye will make them very uncomfortable and can even make them intolerant to wear.

·         They can pop out easily so are generally not recommended for contact sports.

·         There is a lot of chair time at the Optometrist’s office before the fit is perfected.

·         They can break.

·         *Although possible, corneal ulcers are extremely rare in cases where the patient is compliant (follows a few basic rules), and the optometrist is visited regularly.


·         Scleral Contact Lenses fall under the category of hard or rigid contact lenses, with some                     major differences.

·         They are as comfortable and, in many cases, more comfortable than softs. 

·         The do not fall out so they have an application in active sports.

·         They do not dry out over the course of the day or even under harsh conditions like aircon or cigarette smoke.

·         With Sclerals you get all the advantages of Soft contact lenses – with all the advantages of Hard contact lenses.

·         Please visit the Scleral Lenses section for more information or contact us.

Can Young People Wear Contact Lenses?

Can young people wear scleral contact lenses? The answer is simple, age is not a criterion. In order to ensure success with a  CL fit, there are certain conditions that need to be met, like how motivated is the patient, is the lens prescription suitable, are the apertures too small, is there an underlying condition like chronic dry eye that needs to be taken into account etc.? Once all the boxes are ticked, the chance of a successful CL  ensured whether the patient is 6 or 60.

scleral contact lenses
scleral contact lenses

There are in fact factors that make CL in young people ideal:

  • For some sports, the individual will perform better and safer with contact lenses. Think ball sports like cricket, rugby, soccer and tennis.
  • Self-esteem must not be overlooked in some people who feel very self-conscious with their specs, and by fitting them with contact lenses, you can greatly increase their confidence and happiness too.
  • Ortho-K. Young children with moderate to high degrees of myopia/near-sightedness will benefit from our overnight Ortho-K lens for myopia control. Please see the Ortho-K section for more detailed information.

Dailies (daily replacement lenses), can be considered over monthly’s for situations where hygiene or compliance might be a problem. Dailies are also ideal for part-time wear (just for sport as an example).

In my experience, I find young people a pleasure to fit CL. They generally are more adept and more compliant than many adults, and the youngest patient I’ve fitted with rigid (hard) CL was 6 years old. It is possible to fit young people; it is easy & safe too. Speak to your children, and you may feel surprised to hear what they have to say on the subject.