To help you understand what Rigid Gas Permeable Lenses are, below are several Frequently Asked Questions and their answers.
What are Rigid Gas Permeable lenses?
Rigid Gas Permeable lenses, otherwise known as RGP, are the newest hard contact lenses. Unlike hard lenses of the past that were made of PMMA (think Plexiglas), RGP lenses are made of an oxygen permeable plastic. A healthy eye needs plenty of oxygen. RGP lenses not only give more oxygen to the eye, they are also more comfortable to wear.
Why are RGP lenses different?
Introduced in the 1980’s, RGP lenses are newer than soft lenses. RGPs have silicone incorporated in their design. Silicone is oxygen permeable, so therefore your eyes will receive plenty of oxygen. In fact, RGPs deliver more oxygen to your eyes than most soft lenses.
RGP lenses are generally easier to clean and tend to last much longer than soft lenses. This makes them less expensive in the long run. They also provide better vision, clarity and are more resistant to deposit buildup.
Why aren’t RGPs more popular?
RGPs are made of a harder material than soft lenses. This means it will take longer for your eyes to adjust to wearing them. Since the adjustment period can last for a few days, many people prefer the almost immediate comfort of soft lenses. That is the main reason why they are not as popular as soft lenses.
What are some of the benefits of RGP lenses?
RGP lenses are custom made specifically for you. Your eye care professional will measure the shape of your cornea and prescribe lenses with the exact size, curvature and prescription that your eyes need.
RGPs are durable. If taken care of properly, they won’t need to be replaced for several years, assuming your prescription does not change. It is difficult to damage the lenses, unless they are stepped on or scratched. They don’t tear easily like soft lenses do.
RGP lenses can be polished by a trained eye care professional to extend the life of the lenses. Some eye care professionals argue that it is better to just replace worn out lenses, but the option is there.
Another benefit is better vision. Since the lenses retain their shape when you blink, your vision will be crisper. In addition, RGPs do not absorb water so they do not pull moisture away from your eye. This helps your eyes to stay hydrated and not get dried out and irritated.
If you are uncomfortable with how soft lenses are removed from the eye, the traditional pinching of the lenses with your fingers, RGPs may be for you. They simply pop out by pulling on the corner of the eye.
Who should wear RGP lenses?
If you have a hard time getting acceptable vision from soft lenses, or are fussy about your visual clarity, you would be a good candidate for RGPs. They are also good for people with astigmatism.
RGP bifocal contact lenses for people with presbyopia are an excellent choice. The lenses can be made several different ways to fit your visual needs. Most people find that they receive the best visual acuity with RGP bifocals.
RGPs can be used to reshape the cornea, either to be worn during sleep as part of a program to improve vision or to help people with keratoconus. There are some studies that suggest fitting children with RGP lenses in an effort to slow down the progression of nearsightedness.
What are the drawbacks to RGP lenses?
RGP lenses need to be worn daily for maximum comfort. If you do not wear them for a week or more, your eyes will probably need to take time to readjust. Some people do not experience this, but most do. Soft lenses are comfortable even if they are not worn for a week or more at a time.
Some contact lens wearers do not like the idea of taking time each night to rub the RGP lenses with cleaning solution. While this takes but a minute or two, it is less convenient than soft lenses with no-rub solutions or disposables. RGP lenses are now available in an extended wear version, which would eliminate the daily rubbing.