The Pros and Cons of RGP Contact Lenses

August 24, 2009 by  
Filed under Contact Lenses

Like every other human organ, eyes too need oxygen for its health and survival. While manufacturing techniques of contact lenses have been able to achieve a high level of perfection, the most important snag in the use of a contact lens was the fact that it blocked the free flow of oxygen to the eyes. Because of that, earlier models posed more health risks to the eyes. This problem has been substantially reversed by the introduction of RGP or rigid gas permeable contact lenses.

Materials, with which earlier models of contact lenses were made, were impermeable to oxygen. Oxygen reached the eye only when the person blinked and the contact lens moved a bit. The oxygen that got into the tear solution by this movement helped a lot in preventing eye problems, but it was not sufficient. As against this, oxygen permeability of an RGP contact lens is very high. RGP is a material that is a combination of PMMA, a polymer, and fluoropolymers and silicon, and the material allows substantial oxygen diffusion.

RGP contact lenses strike a proper median between soft contact lenses and hard contact lenses. RGP makes good contact lenses for astigmatism also, while soft lenses cannot do that. A better type of contact lenses for astigmatism is toric lenses. These are firm enough to correct mild corneal warpage problems also. Another eye problem is keratoconus, where the cornea tends to take the form of a cone. For this, RGP contact lenses are better.

Because RGP contact lenses are slightly rigid, they are able to maintain their shape better, despite the normal movements that an eye is subjected to. At the same time, an RGP contact lens is flexible enough to move with the eye when it flexes very slightly. And this slight rigidity of the RGP contact lenses makes them more suitable as bifocal contact lenses as well.

The durability of RGP contact lenses also make them better lenses than soft ones. They are less susceptible to damage than other types of lenses and lasts about a year before they have to be replaced.

One drawback of older models of contact lenses, including soft contact lenses, was that they absorbed eye’s tear solution, thereby tending to make the eyes drier. RGP lenses are free from this also. Because of all this, wearers are generally quite comfortable with RGP lenses. And because of the high oxygen permeability, RGP contact lenses users are less prone to infections or other eye health problems that in general beset contact lens users.

And since the lens itself is less prone to protein build up or bacteria collection, hygiene management is also easier with RGP contact lenses. The cleaning solution that is used for RGP lenses are slightly different from that used for other types of lenses. A patient is normally guided on this by the contact lens dealer.

Finally it is up to your ophthalmologist to decide whether RGP contact lenses are the best for you since it may not be compatible with certain types of eye problems. But if RGP contact lenses are what the physician prescribes, wearer comfort is assured.