How to Care for Rigid Gas Permeable (RGP) Contact Lenses
First introduced in early 70 by Bausch and Lomb, Rigid Permeable lenses or RGPs were considered an improved version of hard contact lenses. They were made of silicone, instead of plastic, giving more comfort and better oxygen permeation to ensure optimal eye health.
Rigid gas permeable or RGP contact lenses are so called because, by structure and form, they are rigid without being hard. These lenses are composed of inflexible but durable plastic material that is capable to transmit oxygen and carbon dioxide to and from the eye. The contacts resist deposits and are not as likely to carry bacteria as soft lenses. However, due to their rigidity, the usual techniques for removing soft lenses may be ineffective.
This type of contact is individually fit for each eye by taking specific corneal measurements and having a complete vision exam by an eye doctor.
Advantages of wearing RGP lenses
Durability: RGP contact lenses can last for several months or even years while soft contact lenses need to be usually replaced on monthly basis and sometimes even more frequently.
Strength: RGP lenses are less likely to tear than soft contacts and are associated with a lesser risk of accidental damage.
Easy care and storage: According to the American Optometric Association (AOA), RGP lens are easy to care for. Soft contact lenses require careful storing in containers and washing with saline solution, while RGP lenses are more resistant to damage while cleaning.
Convenience: As they can be worn overnight, RGP lenses are a wonderful option for people who have strong prescriptions. People who wear contacts and work in occupations that include night duty, such as medical and emergency personnel, also appreciate the advantages of having contacts that can be slept in.
Comfort: As RGP contacts are individually designed by your eye doctor by measuring your cornea and determining lens power, size, diameter and curvatures, they stay in place better than soft lenses and give crisp, clear vision. They also have less buildup then soft lenses.
Special caring tips for removal of RGP lenses
RGP lenses have very specific wearing schedules and special care needs to be done while wearing and taking them off.
- Wash your hands with soap and running water.
- Dry your hands on a non-terry cloth towel to prevent lint fibers from being released.
- Open your eyes wide and touch the outer corner of one of your eyes with either one or two fingers of the hand on the same side.
- Press evenly on both the top and bottom eyelids at the corner.
- Gently tug the skin at the corners of your eyelids at a 45-degree angle by pretending you are pulling the skin toward the top of your ear.
- Hold your opposite hand in a slightly curved position below your eye.
- Lower your head over your hand and blink hard a few times. This will cause the lens to fall from your eye and into the palm of your hand.
- Repeat these steps for the opposite eye to remove the other contact lens.
How to adjust the wearing time of RGP lenses?
Wearing time of RGP lenses is one of the most challenging features. People are usually instructed to start out wearing these lenses four hours a day, and increase an hour each day until reaching the maximum wearing potential.
You must also remember that if you are wearing RGP lenses all day and then stop wearing the lenses for any significant amount of time, you will have to start your wearing schedule over and build up gradually.
The same is true for special overnight RGP lenses. Because the technology is newer and the possibility for infection and swelling is greater with this type of lens, your eye doctor will want to monitor your individual overnight wearing very closely.
Most doctors also recommend not wearing the lenses every night, but rather leaving them out several nights a week. The length and amount of wearing time will depend on your specific situation, prescription, lens material and eye health.
Some things to remember!
While the RGP lenses come with so many benefits, there are some considerations related with their use. For example, initially, they can feel uncomfortable in the eyes as they typically take some time to adjust to before they feel comfortable. Once the eyes adjust they can be just as comfortable as soft contact lens.
Similarly, since RGP contacts are made to last longer than soft contacts, losing an RGP lens is typically more costly than losing a soft contact. However, considering their long-term potential, if you do not lose your lenses and are able to care for them properly, RGP lenses can cost less than soft contacts.
Also, you should never wear RGP lenses not designed or prescribed for overnight wear as corneal damage (temporary or permanent) can result. The severity of complications can range from pain and irritation to complete loss of vision.
In short, if worn and taken care of properly, rigid gas permeable contact lenses do offer a cost-effective, durable and convenient option for those who are either not happy with their existing soft lenses or want to try some good recommended overnight lenses.
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