Differences between Soft and Hard Contact Lenses

Are you thinking of getting contact lenses? To get started, visit your local optometrist for an eye exam and let them know that you are interested. The optometrist will discuss different options with you, and work together to select the most appropriate type of contact lens to fit your lifestyle and vision needs.

Last Updated: March 27, 2023

Video: What is the difference between soft and rigid contact lenses? | Dr. Barry Thienes

There are two major types of contact lenses: soft contacts and hard contacts. Soft contacts are the most common day-to-day lenses. They are made of a very flexible polymer material designed to provide comfortable and clear vision. Hard contacts are made of a less flexible polymer material and are often used in specialty cases to provide clear vision. For example, they may be good options for individuals with a high prescription, dry eye disease, keratoconus and for myopia management.

Below is a comparison between soft and hard contact lenses.

Soft Contact Lens


  • Better comfort
  • Shorter adaptation period
  • Rarely fall out of the eye making them ideal for sports
  • Available in UV protection
  • Available in coloured options
  • Available in daily disposable options which are convenient and healthy for the eye
  • Available in multifocal options to correct for presbyopia


  • Vision may not be as sharp for some individuals compared to hard contacts
  • More difficult to handle for lens insertion and removal
  • More prone to drying out causing discomfort for some individuals
  • More susceptible to protein and lipid deposits on the lens causing discomfort over time

Hard Contact Lens


  • Excellent vision
  • Excellent oxygen supply
  • Long life span
  • Good durability
  • Easy handling of lens insertion and removal
  • Decreased risk of eye infection compared to soft contacts
  • Available in multifocal options to correct for presbyopia


  • Less initial comfort
  • Longer adaptation period
  • More easily dislodged from the eye making them not ideal for contact sports
  • Require consistent wear to maintain adaptation making them not ideal for part-time wear
  • More susceptible to debris under the lens causing discomfort


  1. McDermott M et al. Therapeutic uses of contact lenses. Surv Ophthalmol. 1989;33(5):381-394.
  2. Jones L et al. TFOS DEWS II management and therapy report. Ocul Surf. 2017;15(3):575-628.
  3. Worp EVD et al. Modern scleral contact lenses: a review. Cont Lens Anterior Eye. 2014 37(4):240-250.
  4. Rathi VM et al. Contact lens in keratoconus. Indian J Ophthalmol. 2013;61(8):410.
  5. Romero-Rangel T et al. Gas-permeable scleral contact lens therapy in ocular surface disease. Am J Ophthalmol. 2000;130(1):25-32.
  6. Bullimore MA et al. Myopia control 2020: where are we and where are we heading? Ophthalmic Physiol Opt. 2020;40(3):254-270.
  7. Stapleton F et al. The incidence of contact lens-related microbial keratitis in Australia. Ophthalmol. 2008;115(10):1655-1662.
  8. Bennett ES. Contact lens correction of presbyopia. Clin Exp Optom. 2008;91(3):265-278.