What are Rigid Gas Permeable Contact Lenses?
Rigid Gas Permeable (RGP) contact lenses are made of a durable plastic material that often incorporates silicone, so they are both flexible and comfortable. Introduced in the late 1970s, RGP lenses are a newer technology than conventional soft silicone hydrogel lenses, and should not be confused with the hard contact lenses (PMMA) of the past.
As their name suggests, RGP lenses are gas-permeable, meaning oxygen can pass through the lens to your eye, helping to keep your eyes healthy. In fact, RGP lenses allow more oxygen to reach the eye than most soft contact lenses! Due to this gas-permeability, RGP can be made larger than PMMA lenses ever were, and the edge can be fitted closer to the eye, making them more comfortable and stable.
Adapting to RGP contact lenses
Although RGP lenses carry several benefits, they are somewhat harder to adapt to, initially. While soft silicone hydrogel lenses are instantly comfortable due to their pliability and water content, RGP lenses are stiffer (although still flexible) and require wearers to get used to the feeling of them in their eye. Additionally, RGP lenses tend to not perform as well as soft, hybrid, or scleral lenses in dusty or windy environments.
Our doctors will only recommend RGP lenses if they genuinely feel they are the best match for your vision and lifestyle. We perform thorough exams and take pride in helping each patient see as clearly as possible.
The Benefits of Gas Permeable Contact Lenses
- Firm plastic material retains its shape even while blinking, providing sharper vision
- Materials do not contain water like soft contacts, so proteins and lipids do not adhere to the lenses as easily
- More durable and therefore cost-effective if prescription remains the same
- Larger than soft contact lenses which results in more stability
Due to their durability, RGP lenses are typically more cost-effective over time than other contact lenses. They can, however, dislodge more easily than soft contact lenses and become lost, so it is important to keep this in mind and wear protective eyewear if playing sports or working in environments with a lot of debris.