What are Rigid Gas Permeable Contact Lenses?

by Aug 1, 2022

When thinking about contact lenses, most people think of soft contact lenses but there is another option – rigid gas permeable contact lenses (RGPs). These lenses have been around for many years and offer another option – especially for people with abnormal corneas.


Design of RGP Contact Lenses

Rigid gas permeable contact lenses are smaller than the soft contact lenses. These rigid lenses are sometimes called “corneal” contact lenses because they are small enough to fit only on the cornea and not rest on the sclera.

Soft contact lenses are usually over 14 millimeters across and will rest on the white of the eyes.

Rigid contact lenses are typically only about eight or nine millimeters and will not touch the white of the eyes.

Since the contact lenses are much smaller, the rigid lenses can have more movement on the eye as well.


Benefits of Rigid Gas Permeable Contact Lenses

Gas permeable contact lenses are considered the best option for precise vision in individuals with astigmatism due to the shape of the front of the eye.

The eye is not always shaped perfectly round, if it is slightly different curves in different areas, corneal astigmatism is present.

A rigid contact lens will allow the tears to fill the area under the contact lens and will eliminate the astigmatism from the cornea.

Another excellent use for gas permeable contact lenses is in those with keratoconus or after a corneal transplant.

These patients frequently have very abnormally shaped corneas and can benefit greatly from a rigid contact lens compared to a soft contact lens or glasses.

Another benefit of the rigid gas permeable contact lens is that the lens will often be able to be worn for an entire year if it is cared for properly.

These lenses are more durable and resistant to bacterial growth than the soft contact lenses.


How to Put on a RGP

If wearing a rigid contact lens, it is important to fully understand how to properly put the contact lens into the eye.

First, make sure that your hands are clean and that the lens itself is also clean.

Once everything has been properly cleaned, look down and raise your upper lid with your non-dominant hand.

In your dominant hand, place the rigid contact lens on your index finger and use your ring finger to pull down your lower eyelid.  Then while looking straight ahead, gently place the lens directly onto the eye.


How to Remove a Hard Contact Lens

To remove the rigid contact lens, it is important to make sure that you maintain control of the lens and do not allow it to slide on the eye freely.

Lift the upper lid until it is above the top of the rigid contact lens, pull the lower lid below the bottom of the contact lens, and keep both eyelids tight against the eyeball.

Slowly push the eyelids together and force the lens off of the eye and onto the eyelid where you can remove it.

If the lens begins to slip or slide, it can cause a scratch on the cornea or the conjunctiva around the eye.


Where to Get RGPs

Rigid contact lenses are frequently prescribed by optometrists in various settings including individual practices, group practices, and even hospitals.

If you are interested in wearing gas permeable contact lenses, contact your eye doctor to schedule a fitting and consultation.


Our eye doctors at Wilmington Family Eye Care in Wilmington, DE excel in prescription of glasses, contact lenses and the diagnosis of a variety of eye diseases. Call our optometrists at 302-299-1286 or schedule an eye exam appointment online if you would like to learn more about rigid gas permeable contact lenses. Our eye doctors, Drs. Daniel Baruffi, Amy Quan, Patricia Jones, and Joseph Goldberg provide the highest quality optometry services and eye exams in Wilmington, Delaware and its surrounding areas.

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