All You Need to Know About RGP Contact Lenses: Are They Right for You?

GRP contact lenses

Rigid gas permeable (RGP) contact lenses have carved a niche in the eyewear industry due to their exceptional clarity and durability. Originally developed as a successor to older hard lenses made from PMMA (polymethyl methacrylate), which didn’t allow oxygen to pass through to the cornea, RGP contact lenses emerged as a breakthrough. Over the years, their ability to provide sharp vision and correct severe refractive errors has gained them a dedicated following among those who need precise optical correction.

This article aims to address the most common questions surrounding RGP contact lenses, highlighting both their advantages and disadvantages. Whether you’re considering the switch from soft to rigid lenses or exploring options for better vision correction, we’ll guide you through the essential aspects of RGP lenses. 

From their enhanced durability and effectiveness in correcting complex visual conditions to the adaptation period and maintenance requirements, get all the information you need to make an informed decision about whether RGP lenses are the right choice for your eyes. Please read along. 

What Are Rigid Gas Permeable Contact Lenses? 

RGP contact lenses, also known as GP or oxygen permeable lenses, are crafted from durable, flexible plastics that allow oxygen to pass through to the cornea. Unlike soft contact lenses, RGPs maintain their shape on the eye, providing sharper vision and correcting most astigmatism and other irregularities. 

These lenses are tailored to the shape and health needs of the individual’s eyes, often resulting in a more custom fit. Rigid gas permeable contact lenses are also known for their ability to resist deposits and be less likely than soft lenses to harbor bacteria, making them a healthier option for long-term wear.

How Often Should You Clean RGP Lenses? 

RGP contact lenses

RGP contact lenses require regular cleaning and care to maintain their effectiveness and prolong their lifespan. It is recommended to clean these lenses daily with a specific RGP cleaning solution to remove lipid and protein deposits. After cleaning, the lenses should be rinsed and stored in a soaking solution overnight. Proper handling and regular enzymatic cleaning, usually once a week, also help prevent surface buildup and ensure optimal lens performance.

How Long Can You Wear RGP Lenses in a Day?

The duration RGP lenses can be worn in a day depends largely on the user’s adaptation to the lenses and their eye health. Initially, wear time may be limited, but with regular use, most individuals can wear their RGPs for up to 14 hours a day. It’s important to increase wearing time gradually to allow the eyes to adapt comfortably. However, any signs of discomfort or dryness should prompt a reduction in wear time and consultation with an eye care professional.

How Long Do Rigid Gas Permeable Contact Lenses Last? 

RGP contact lenses are known for their durability. With proper care, a single pair of RGP lenses can last for up to two years, significantly longer than most soft contact lenses. This longevity makes them a cost-effective choice for many users. However, it’s essential to have regular check-ups with an eye care professional to ensure the lenses are still fitting well and provide the necessary vision correction without damaging the eyes.

What Are the Benefits of Using RGP Contact Lenses?

RGP contact lenses offer several benefits, including:

  • Sharper Vision: RGPs provide superior visual acuity and correction for astigmatism compared to soft lenses.
  • Durability: Made from sturdy materials, RGPs are less likely to tear and can last several years.
  • Breathability: High oxygen permeability reduces the risk of eye health problems.
  • Cost-Effectiveness: A long lifespan means less frequent replacements.
  • Less Prone to Deposits: Resists protein and lipid buildup, which helps maintain eye health.

What Are the Disadvantages of RGP Contact Lenses?

Meanwhile, here are the cons of using RGP contact lenses:

  • Initial Discomfort: May be uncomfortable to wear initially as the eyes adapt to the firm material.
  • Daily Maintenance: Requires consistent, meticulous cleaning and care.
  • Risk of Loss: Due to their smaller size and rigidity, they can be more easily dislodged from the eye.
  • Adjustment Period: It takes time for some users to adjust to the sensation of RGPs.
  • Initial Cost: Upfront cost is higher than some types of soft lenses.

Can You Shower With RGP Lenses?

Can I shower with RGP contact lenses?

No. It is generally advised to avoid wearing RGP contact lenses while showering. The water can carry contaminants that may adhere to the lenses, potentially leading to infections or lens damage. Shower water can also cause lenses to dislodge and potentially be lost. To maintain optimal lens health and eye safety, remove RGPs before any activity involving water.

Can You Sleep In Rigid Gas Permeable Contact Lenses?

No. Sleeping in RGP contact lenses is not recommended unless specifically prescribed by an eye care professional for overnight wear. Wearing RGPs while sleeping can restrict oxygen to the cornea, increase the risk of eye infections, and lead to discomfort or corneal neovascularization. For those requiring lens wear at night, specific designs and materials made for extended wear should be considered.

Can I Use Eye Drops With Gas Permeable Contact Lenses?

Yes, you can use eye drops with RGP contact lenses, but it’s important to choose the right type of drops. Not all eye drops are suitable for use with contact lenses. It is advisable to use rewetting drops or artificial tears that are specifically labeled as safe for use with rigid gas permeable lenses to prevent any adverse effects and ensure comfort.

How Much Do RGP Lenses Cost?

The cost of RGP contact lenses varies depending on the prescription, lens material, and any custom features required. Generally, a pair of RGP lenses can cost between $100 to $300. While this may be higher than some soft lenses, the longer lifespan and fewer replacements make RGPs a cost-effective solution over time. In addition, the cost can vary based on the provider and geographic location.

Are RGP Contact Lenses Worth It?

For many individuals, RGP lenses are indeed worth the investment. They offer numerous benefits, including enhanced visual clarity, durability, and better eye health due to their resistance to buildup and high oxygen permeability. Although there is an initial adjustment period and the cost can be higher upfront, the long-term savings and superior visual performance make RGPs an excellent choice for those suitable for this type of lens.

Key Takeaway

In conclusion, rigid gas permeable (RGP) contact lenses offer a range of benefits, including superior visual clarity, durability, and increased oxygen permeability, which make them a valuable choice for individuals with specific optical needs. While they do require a commitment to regular care and an adaptation period, the long-term advantages they provide, such as cost-effectiveness and the potential for improved eye health, make them an excellent option for many.

Ultimately, whether RGP lenses are the right choice for you depends on your personal comfort, lifestyle needs, and specific visual requirements. Consulting with an eye care professional can help determine the best eyewear solution tailored to your needs.