Rigid gas permeable (RGP) contact lenses are hard contact lenses made of silicone compounds that allow oxygen to pass through the lens material to the eye. Even though disposable soft contact lenses are the mainstay of Avery Ranch Eye Care and RGP lenses being not as popular as soft contact lenses, RGP lenses do offer a number of advantages.
Advantages of Rigid Gas Permeable Lenses
- RGP lenses allow your eyes to “breathe”. RGP lenses allow high amounts of oxygen to reach the front surface of the eye which can help reduce the risk of eye problems caused by hypoxia, or reduced oxygen supply. Rigid gas permeable lenses provide good oxygen supply because:
- The silicone containing lens materials of RGP lenses allow the high oxygen transmission to reach the front surface of the eye.
- RGP lenses are small in diameter so they cover up less of the front surface of the eye.
- Rigid gas permeable lenses hold their shape and move on the eye with each blink. This movement pumps oxygen-containing tears under the lens.
- RGP lenses provide sharp vision. Since they are custom made to maintain their shape on the eye, RGP lenses provide sharp, crisp vision. Rigid gas permeable lenses also provide a stable and accurate correction of astigmatism.
- RGP lenses may slow the progression of nearsightedness. In addition to their other advantages, some research suggests that wearing gas permeable lenses may slow the progression of myopia, or nearsightedness, in some children. RGP lenses are also used for orthokeratology, which are specially designed contacts worn during sleep to reshape the cornea and improve vision.
Disadvantages of Rigid Gas Permeable Lenses
- Need for adaptation. Unlike wearing soft lenses, which are typically comfortable from the beginning of wear, RGP’s may need a few weeks before you can wear them comfortably all day long. Initially, you may be able to wear the lenses only a few hours a day until your cornea has adapted to them.
- Inability to wear part-time. To fully adapt to RGP lenses and to stay comfortable wearing them, you have to wear them every day. If you stop wearing them for several days, you will be more aware of the lenses on your eyes and will have to re-adapt to the lenses.
- Increased possibility of dislodging. Since they are small in diameter, rigid gas permeable lenses can dislodge from your eyes during contact sports, or if you rub your eyes too hard.
- Vulnerability to sand and dust. RGP lenses don’t conform to the shape of your eye so it is possible sand or dust can get under your lenses and cause discomfort.
- Higher lens replacement costs. RGP lenses are custom-made to the shape of your eye. This can make RGP lenses expensive to replace if you lose them.
Dr. Chris Vincent is fully committed to offering the latest advancements in contact lens technology. Dr. Vincent has been extremely successful in fitting some of the newest specialty contact lenses called hybrid contact lenses. The hybrid contact lenses are designed to have a rigid gas permeable center, surrounded by a soft lens “skirt”. The goal of hybrid lenses is to provide the clarity of a gas permeable lens and the wearing comfort of a soft lens.
If you would like to find out if rigid gas permeable lenses are right for you, please call our Austin optometrist office for more information at 512-255-7070.