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RGP Contact Lenses

What Are RGP Contact Lenses

A rigid gas-permeable lens, also known as RGP lens or GP lens or colloquially, hard contact lens, is a rigid contact lens made of oxygen-permeable polymers. RGP contact lenses are rigid, but they should not be confused with old styled hard contact lenses, which are now obsolete.

RGP lenses are smaller than soft lenses, fitting within the cornea rather than overlapping onto the white of the eye. This allows the tears to flow freely under the lens and this combined with the oxygen permeability of the lens material means that RGP lenses are healthy for your eyes.

Because RGP lenses are rigid, they correct for any imperfections in the shape of the cornea such as astigmatism, and in many cases give a superior standard of vision to soft lenses. They also last for many months and are rather more robust than soft lenses.

Why doesn’t everybody wear RGP Contact Lenses?

The main reason is that they usually require an adaptation period of several days before they become comfortable whereas soft lenses become comfortable within a few minutes. However, if you are prepared to adapt, you will be rewarded with excellent vision, robust lenses, and reduced cost. RGP lenses are also less suitable for sports and other activities as the lens can become dislodged rather more easily.

Most types of eye problems (refractive errors) can be corrected with RGP contact lenses including short-sightedness, long-sightedness, astigmatism, and presbyopia.

The Benefits of RGP Contact Lenses?

Gas permeable contact lenses offer some outstanding benefits over soft lenses. For one, because GP lenses are made from a firm plastic material, they retain their shape when you blink, which tends to provide sharper vision than pliable soft lenses.

GP lenses also are extremely durable. Although you can break them (for instance, if you step on them), you can’t tear them easily, like soft lenses. And they’re made of materials that don’t contain water (as soft contact lenses do), so protein and lipids from your tears do not adhere to GP lenses as readily as they do to soft lenses. With a little care, gas permeable contact lenses can last for years, as long as you don’t require a prescription change.

Niches where RGP Contact Lenses Excel

Though they are less popular than soft lenses, gas permeable contacts are the best choice for many individuals, including:

  • People who are very discerning and are willing to go through a period of adaptation to contact lens wear to achieve the sharpest vision possible.
  • Some people with astigmatism for whom soft contacts don’t produce the desired visual acuity.
  • People who have a condition called keratoconus, where the cornea is cone-shaped and causes extreme visual distortion.
  • People who need contact lenses for Refractive Surgery.
  • Gas permeable contacts also are used for ortho-k, where specially designed GP lenses are worn during sleep to reshape the cornea and improve vision.

Frequently asked Questions ?

Can I loose a lens behind my eye ?
No. There is nowhere for it to go. The conjunctiva, the fine, thin membrane that covers the sclera (white part) and inside of your eyelids is well attached to the side walls of the eye socket. Although you cannot lose a lens, it can find its way up and under the upper lid and be pretty hard to locate. A soft lens can roll up and likewise be hard to find. Either way, if you flush your eye with water or saline, the lens should float out.In rare instances, an RGP (“hard”) lens may adhere by suction to the conjunctiva. First, apply wetting solution to the lens and wait about a minute. Then try to move the lens while gently pressing on one edge. If that doesn’t work, you can try to very gently lift up under one edge to break the seal. Or go see your eye doctor. If a contact lens adheres repeatedly, it is not fitted correctly and should be replaced.

What is the difference between hard and soft Contact Lenses ?
Soft contacts are made from hydrophilic (water-absorbing) plastic. They are pliable and can easily fold or roll. Hard contacts, most often referred to as Rigid Gas Permeable (RGP) lenses, are made from a variety of silicone-acrylate combinations

At what age can one start wearing Contact Lenses ?
That largely depends on how responsible you are. Contacts have frequently been used with premature infants, who sometimes have vision problems. With proper contact lens care and maintenance, people of all ages can wear contacts safely and effectively, even children.

Are Contact Lenses OK for my eyes ? Are RGP Lenses a healthier choice ?
Contact lenses have proven to be a healthy vision option for millions of people. But only your eye care professional can determine if they are right for you.If you follow all prescribed steps for inserting, removing, and caring for them, contact lenses will continue to be safe and effective. You also need to see your eye care professional regularly to ensure long-term corneal health.The most serious contact lens complication is a “corneal ulcer” or “microbial keratitis.” On average, this occurs in 4 of every 10,000 wears; but with RGP lenses it drops to 1.2 of every 10,000 wearers. This is because RGPs provide more oxygen to the eye than many soft lenses, and RGPs better resist infection-causing deposits.

How long does it take for RGP lenses to feel comfortable ?
It often takes one to two weeks for total comfort to be achieved. RGP lenses are smaller than soft lenses and they move more on the eye when you blink. The awareness that you experience will lessen as your lids adapt to moving over the lens edge as you blink.

How long does it take for RGP lenses to feel comfortable ?
RGP lenses last an average of two years before needing replacement. This depends upon several factors including the lens material, how dry your eyes are, and how well you care for and clean your lenses. Some lens materials require annual replacement, and some people with dry eyes replace their RGPs annually. Other wearers may find that they are wearing the same lenses for several years.

Can I use tap water with my RGP Lenses ?
No. The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) recommends that contact lenses not be exposed to any form of water. Acanthamoeba, an organism present in tap water and other forms of impure water, can become attached to a lens and cause a sight-threatening infection.
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