Glasses vs. Contacts What's the Difference?

Glasses
Contacts
Appearance
Show off your unique style
Others will barely notice them
Average Annual National Cost
$196 for frames and lenses
$280 to $400 for daily-use lenses
Comfort
Easy to get used to
Take some getting used to
pair of glasses and a contact lens

If you have a refractive error such as nearsightedness or astigmatism, you need glasses or contacts to improve your vision.

Both glasses and contacts help you see the world clearly and eliminate blurry vision, dizziness, frequent headaches, and other uncomfortable side effects of untreated refractive errors. 

Glasses have been a reliable solution for centuries. However, contacts alleviate the limitations of frames, which is especially beneficial for those with an active lifestyle or unique prescription.

The greatest differences? How you see the world and how the world sees you...

glasses vs contacts

Comparing the Look and Feel of Glasses vs. Contacts

Glasses are an extension of your wardrobe and personality. However, they can limit your field of vision. Contacts are invisible, but allow you to see like normal.

How do you decide between the two?

The Primary Differences Between Glasses and Contacts

How You Look

While contact lenses rest discreetly against your cornea, glasses are hard to miss. When choosing a pair of eyeglasses, you will have to take into account your lifestyle because they will be a part of your daily wear

How You See

With glasses, your vision is limited to the confines of your frames and many patients experience poor peripheral vision. However, contacts bring the world into focus. They are especially helpful for driving, sports, and other activities where glasses might get in the way.

What You Pay

In general, contact lenses are slightly more expensive than glasses and a contact lens exam usually adds to the cost of your regular eye exam. However, the cost of glasses can jump into the hundreds of dollars if you need specialty lenses or need to frequently replace your glasses. 

How They Feel

Although glasses are easy to put on and get used to, they can fog up in inclement weather, slide down the bridge of your nose when you sweat, or get dirty and distort your vision. Alternatively, contacts do not fog up or need to be wiped down after a walk in the rain. 

How You Care for Them

Aside from occasional cleaning, glasses require minimal maintenance. They are usually replaced once per year, if at all. Meanwhile, reusable contact lenses must be removed nightly and placed in sterile saline solution. Although millions of people wear contact lenses with no issues, they can increase your risk of eye infection if maintained incorrectly. 

"Millions of people around the world wear contact lenses. Depending on your lifestyle, your motivation and the health of your eyes, contact lenses may provide a safe and effective alternative to eyeglasses when used with proper care and maintenance." American Academy of Ophthalmology

However, both options can help you achieve similar benefits...

Both Options Help You Improve Your Vision Without Surgery

Affordability

Both options are less expensive upfront than corrective eye surgery and are usually partially covered by vision insurance plans. If your prescription ever changes, you can simply schedule an eye exam rather than undergo another eye surgery.

Stationery

Versatility

Both glasses and contacts can correct a wide range of refractive issues, including farsightedness, nearsightedness, and even astigmatism. Although glasses are typically the preferred choice for children, responsible preteens can start using contact lenses early on. 

Improving Your Quality of Life

Glasses and contacts both allow you to see the world in a clearer, crisper way and eliminate the uncomfortable side effects of refractive errors. 

"2 of 3 American adults, or 159.2 million people, wear eyeglasses."

- The Vision Council Research  

More and more Americans are choosing contacts...

There are pros and cons to consider with each option...

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Are There Other Ways to Improve Your Vision?

If you are not convinced about wearing contacts or glasses, you have other options. Laser vision correction such as LASIK or PRK may work for you. These refractive surgeries are simple, low-risk, and can offer you freedom from contacts or glasses for many years to come.

There are also other options, such as Ortho-K treatment which allows you to wear your contact lenses at night to reshape your cornea and give you clear daytime vision. If you are worried about the fuss of contact lenses or glasses, this may be right for you. 

close up of an eye

The Clear Choice: Opt for Both

Even if you choose contact lenses, you should still have a backup pair of eyeglasses so that you do not have to live with impaired vision if you ever run into problems with your contacts. 

When deciding which option is right for you, you should consider the following factors:

  • Which one can you afford? 
  • Are you committed to cleaning and caring for contacts? 
  • Do you mind if eyeglass frames are a constant part of your wardrobe? 
  • Do you have any important events coming up which you do not want to wear glasses for? 
  • How active are you and would glasses get in the way? 

Your doctor will also take into account your unique refractive error, eye shape, and condition during your appointment to decide what the safest, most successful treatment option for you can be. Schedule a consultation to discuss your concerns with an eye care professional. No matter which option you choose, get ready to see the world in a clearer way and rid yourself of the pesky side effects of untreated refractive errors. 

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