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Contacts vs. Glasses: A Helpful Comparison Guide

POV: You’ve just found out that your 20/20 vision is now a thing of the past, and your peepers need vision correction. Or maybe you’ve always been an eyeglasses or contact lens wearer and decide it’s time to switch camps. So the question is: When it comes to contacts vs. glasses, which are better?

If you, like many others, often find yourself in a head-scratching dilemma when it’s time to update your existing prescription (or get a new one), this post is for you. Ahead, we list the many pros and cons of contacts vs. glasses to help you decide on the type of eyewear that's right for you. Turns out there are quite a few, so sit back and take notes to decide which one you should lean toward.

Hint: There’s no right or wrong answer! It all boils down to your personal preferences and needs.

From convenience and aesthetics to maintenance level and eye health, here’s what you need to know about the pros and cons of contacts vs. glasses.

Cons of Contact Lenses

A woman rubs her eyes while wearing contacts vs. glasses.

Let’s begin with the common disadvantages of contact lenses.

Higher Risk of Eye Infections

Putting on contact lenses means that your fingers are in direct contact with your eyeballs. This increases the chances of harmful, foreign substances like bacteria and viruses coming into contact with your eyes.

Also, not staying on top of your contact lens-cleaning regimen further heightens the risk of eye infections like conjunctivitis (pink eye) and keratitis (corneal infection). Not to mention, expired contacts or those with tampered packaging can also predispose you to infections.

You may be able to reduce (but not completely eliminate) the likelihood of eye infections with daily disposable contact lenses and proper personal hygiene.

Intensify Dry Eyes

If you suffer from dry eye syndrome, wearing contact lenses, especially for long periods, can worsen your symptoms. Even if you don’t have dry eye problems in the first place, contact lenses may trigger them.

While advancements in contact lens technology mean they allow oxygen to enter the eye more efficiently than before, the physical film still blocks a good amount of air from passing through. That’s why contact lens wearers are more vulnerable to dry eyes than spectacle wearers.

One way to mitigate this problem would be to reduce the length of time you wear contacts. If that’s not feasible — for example, you often work overtime — a pair of eyeglasses may be better for your eye health in the long run.

High Maintenance

Another major consideration for deciding between contacts vs. glasses is that the former is pretty high-maintenance given that you need to wash the lenses after every usage (unless you’ve opted for daily disposable ones). Going on vacation means you’ll have to leave some space for your cleaning solution, lens case, and eye drops (aka more baggage).

For those who have a hectic schedule, say, a mom with school-age kids or a jet-setting executive, eyeglasses are definitely more convenient and time-saving, minus the risk of dry eyes and infections.

Costly

Those on a budget will probably want to forgo contact lenses in favor of eyeglasses, given that the former can be pretty pricey. According to CostHelper, a three-month supply of daily disposable lenses costs about $70-$100. That means you’ll have to fork out roughly $280-$400 for contact lenses every year. And if you have astigmatism, be prepared to spend more on your contacts. (In comparison, a prescription pair of eyeglasses from Pair Eyewear starts at just $60.)

While other types of contact lenses, think extended-wear ones like monthlies, may be slightly cheaper in comparison, you still have to buy disinfecting contact lens solution and saline solution. As you can see, contact lenses are relatively pricier than the average pair of eyeglasses.

Pros of Contact Lenses

There are a few noteworthy advantages of wearing contact lenses.

Aesthetics

Many people prefer contact lenses because they don’t like — or aren’t used to — how they look with a pair of glasses on. Some also think contact lenses are less likely to clash with their outfits and accessories.

Some individuals wear contact lenses to change their eye color. Color contact lenses are available with and without prescription if that’s what you’re looking for.

With that said, non-prescription and prescription glasses also make for a fashion statement, which you’ll see later.

Doesn’t Interfere With Physical Activity

If you’re someone who’s sporty and tends to wear accessories for certain activities, like sunglasses for beach tanning or protective headgear for football, contact lenses may be a good choice over glasses.

With spectacles, you’ll have to take them off when you don sunglasses (unless you wear prescription sunglasses, which are available at Pair Eyewear). Also, it’s kind of hard to fit a helmet over eyeglasses.

In such cases, contact lenses may be less of a hassle.

One thing to note is that it isn’t wise to wear contact lenses when you swim. According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), water sources like swimming pools and lakes “can be a source of microorganisms that may cause serious eye infections.” Instead, it’s best to purchase prescription swimming goggles.

Different Vision Needs

Just like glasses lenses, there are different contact lenses to cater to various vision needs. They include:

  • Myopia (nearsightedness)

  • Hyperopia (farsightedness)

  • Astigmatism (a form of refractive error featuring an imperfectly shaped cornea)

  • Presbyopia (age-related farsightedness)

Your optometrist or eye care professional may recommend different types of contact lenses, including:

  • Soft contact lenses: These soft, flexible lenses allow oxygen supply to the cornea. They’re more comfortable and easier to apply. They also come as disposable contact lenses.

  • Semi-hard contact lenses (rigid gas-permeable lenses): These lenses are hardier but not as flexible. They allow oxygen to pass through to the eyeball and are more resistant to build-up.

Cons of Eyeglasses

To make the debate for contacts vs. glasses a fair one, we’ll review the main downsides of the latter.

May Affect Peripheral Vision

Eyeglasses come with frames that may interfere with your peripheral vision. This may affect your field of vision during physical activities like golf and handball.

The distortion is usually more obvious with darker-toned frames, so one caveat would be to choose light, clear designs. For instance, our Base Frames come in Crystal Clear, Pink Clear, and Blue Clear to suit all genders and ages.

May Not Be Not Ideal for Physical Activities

It must be said that glasses aren’t always ideal for physical activities like baseball and hockey. It can be difficult to fit protective gear (like a helmet) over a pair of spectacles on your head. Also, glasses are prone to break in high-contact sports.

In such cases, it may be better to choose contact lenses or opt for prescriptive eyewear like prescription swimming goggles, depending on the sports you enjoy.

Pros of Eyeglasses

Two happy women wear colorful Pair Eyewear glasses vs. contacts.

Onto the other half of the “contacts vs. glasses” debate; let’s talk about the upsides of wearing glasses.

Change Up Your Style Easily

If you want to change your style without much fuss, you can certainly do so with eyeglasses.

At Pair Eyewear, our glasses come in fun, colorful designs, like our Sparkle collection and limited-edition designs. If you prefer classic styles and neutral shades, browse our Classic Colors and Classic Designs collections.

The best thing is, our Top Frames make changing between the different looks as quick and easy as snapping them on. What’s more, they’re a fraction of the cost you usually pay for designer frames, so #win for your wallet!

Less Risk of Eye Infections

Another major advantage of spectacles when it comes to contacts vs. glasses is that they’re less likely to cause eye infections, provided that you keep your glasses clean, of course!

It’s easy to do so with mild soap and warm water. If there’s no running water available, use disposable lens cleaning wipes. Never clean the lenses with tissue paper, paper towels, toilet paper, or antibacterial wipes, as their relatively rough textures can scratch your glasses.

Low-Maintenance

When thinking about contacts vs. glasses, you’ll be happy to hear that the latter needs less upkeep.

With spectacles, you never have to worry about carefully swishing the contact lenses in disinfecting solution before popping them back into their case (if you don’t use disposable ones, that is). Nor do you have to periodically replenish your cleaning and contact lens supplies.

You also don’t have to obsessively keep your nails short to avoid dirt collecting under the fingertips that may potentially transfer to your contacts. And best of all, you don’t have to factor in extra time in the morning and at night to put on and remove your contact lenses, especially when you have a million other tasks on your to-do list.

With eyeglasses, all you have to do is pop them on your face, and you’re good to go. In other words, they’re easier to clean and care for.

May Relieve Eye Strain

If you suffer from digital eye strain or dry eyes, spectacles with blue light-filtering lenses may be a better choice when considering contacts vs. glasses.

As the name suggests, this type of glasses lens helps filter out blue wavelengths, which are thought to relieve some of the symptoms related to computer vision syndrome. Some people report less eye fatigue and dryness once they switch to blue light-filtering glasses.

For those who want to give blue-light lenses a go, simply add on the blue light-filtering lens option when you create yours with Pair Eyewear.

Contacts vs. Glasses: It’s Decision Time

Three pairs of glasses with colorful patterns sit on a yellow background.

Now that you’re aware of the pros and cons of contacts vs. glasses, it’s decision time. Sure, contact lenses may work well if you’re big on aesthetics or live an active lifestyle. But they also come with the downsides of being higher-maintenance and a greater risk of dry eyes and infections.

For the most part, glasses may trump contact lenses, given their convenience, ease of use, lower odds of eye infections, and the added benefit of filtering out blue light. Plus, eyeglasses come in various colors and designs, like Pair Eyewear’s easy-to-use Top Frames. Simply put, you don’t have to limit yourself to only one pair of glasses every day of the week.

Whichever way you lean, remember that you always have the option to switch between contact lenses and glasses. Talk about the best of both worlds!