Hydrogel vs. Silicone Hydrogel: What Are The Differences?

Hydrogel vs. Silicone Hydrogel: What Are The Differences?

When choosing contact lenses, understanding the differences between hydrogel and silicone hydrogel lenses is crucial. Both materials offer distinct advantages and cater to different needs and preferences. Here's a comprehensive comparison to help you make an informed decision.

The History of Hydrogel Contact Lenses

In 1959, Czech chemists Otto Wichterle and Drahoslav Lím published a paper titled “Hydrophilic Gels for Biological Use” in the journal Nature. By 1961, Wichterle succeeded in making the world’s first four hydrogel contact lenses. In 1965, the National Patent Development Corporation (NPDC) acquired the American rights to manufacture hydrogel contact lenses and sublicensed these rights to Bausch + Lomb. In 1971, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the first use of Soflens, a hydrogel material manufactured by Bausch + Lomb.

What Are Hydrogel Contact Lenses?

Hydrogel contact lenses are made of a water-infused polymer known as hydrogel. This thin, pliable material conforms well to the shape of the eye, providing comfort and ease of use. Since the 1970s, hydrogel contact lenses have gained popularity due to their biocompatibility and comfort.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Hydrogel Contact Lenses


  • Comfort: Soft and flexible, conforming to the eye’s shape.
  • Biocompatibility: High acceptance by the human eye, reducing the risk of negative immunological responses.
  • Moisture: High water content makes them suitable for people with dry eyes or sensitive eyes.


  • Oxygen Permeability: Low oxygen transmission to the cornea, which can cause discomfort over extended wear periods.
  • Durability: Less durable for long-term use, making them less suitable for extended or overnight wear.
  • Evaporation: Water content can evaporate, leading to dryness and discomfort over time.

The History of Silicone Hydrogel Contact Lenses

Advancements in hydrogel polymers led to the development of silicone hydrogel contact lenses. In 1998, Ciba Vision (now known as Alcon) introduced the first silicone hydrogel contact lenses in Mexico, and by 2002, they were marketed in the United States.

What Are Silicone Hydrogel Contact Lenses?

Silicone hydrogel contact lenses are made from a combination of hydrogel and silicone, a flexible, gel-like polymer. This combination allows for increased oxygen permeability, making these lenses more breathable than traditional hydrogel lenses.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Silicone Hydrogel Contact Lenses


  • Oxygen Permeability: High oxygen transmission to the cornea, reducing the risk of corneal hypoxia.
  • Extended Wear: Suitable for extended and continuous wear, including overnight use.
  • Comfort: Designed to maintain moisture and comfort over longer periods.


  • Deposits: More prone to deposit build-ups due to their porous nature.
  • Allergies: Not suitable for people allergic or sensitive to silicone.
  • Cost: Generally more expensive than hydrogel lenses.

Explore Our Contact Lens Collection

At TA-TO.com, we offer a wide range of both hydrogel and silicone hydrogel contact lenses to meet your individual needs. Whether you are looking for daily disposables, extended wear options, or lenses specifically designed for dry eyes, our collection has something for everyone. Our top brands include:

Which Contact Lens Material Is Best for You?

Hydrogel contact lenses are known for their comfort, high water content, and biocompatibility, making them ideal for daily wear, especially for those with dry eyes. However, they may not be suitable for extended wear due to lower oxygen permeability.

On the other hand, silicone hydrogel lenses provide superior oxygen permeability, making them suitable for extended and continuous wear. They are a better option for those who need to wear lenses for longer periods but may not be suitable for individuals with silicone allergies or sensitivities.

Ultimately, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. The best contact lens material for you depends on your specific vision needs and lifestyle. Always consult with your eye care professional to determine the most suitable contact lenses for your eyes.

Disclaimer: This guide is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace professional medical advice. Always consult with a licensed eye care professional before making any decisions regarding your eye health.


What are the main differences between hydrogel and silicone hydrogel contact lenses?

Hydrogel lenses are made of a water-infused polymer and are known for their comfort and high water content. Silicone hydrogel lenses combine silicone and hydrogel, offering higher oxygen permeability and making them suitable for extended wear.

Which type of contact lens is better for dry eyes?

Hydrogel contact lenses are generally better for dry eyes due to their higher water content. However, silicone hydrogel lenses can also be comfortable if they incorporate wetting agents or moisture-retaining technologies.

Can I wear hydrogel lenses if I have dry eyes?

Yes, hydrogel lenses are ideal for individuals with dry eyes due to their high water content, which provides moisture and comfort.

Are silicone hydrogel lenses suitable for extended wear?

Yes, silicone hydrogel lenses are designed for extended wear, including overnight use, because of their high oxygen permeability.

How often should I replace my hydrogel contact lenses?

Hydrogel lenses come in various types, including daily, weekly, and monthly disposables. Follow the replacement schedule recommended by your eye care professional.

Are silicone hydrogel lenses more expensive than hydrogel lenses?

Generally, silicone hydrogel lenses are more expensive due to their advanced material and higher oxygen permeability.

Can I be allergic to silicone hydrogel lenses?

Yes, some people may be allergic or sensitive to silicone. If you experience discomfort or an allergic reaction, consult your eye care professional.

How do I choose the right contact lens material for my eyes?

Consult with your eye care professional to determine the best contact lens material based on your eye health, lifestyle, and specific vision needs.

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