The contact lens industry is always doing research on new and innovative lenses and Rigid Gas Permeable (or RGP) lenses are on the cutting edge. These lenses are the most advanced and a far cry from the hard contact lenses for years ago.
Most people today don’t realize that the wearing of contact lenses dates back to just after WWII. Back then contacts were made of a rigid or hard material called PMMA and were referred to as “hard contact lenses”. These contacts didn’t allow much oxygen to pass through which made them very uncomfortable and actually rather unhealthy for the eye.
Soft contact lenses came out in the 1970s and were a great relief to many hard contact lens wearers. These early lenses were for daily wear only and still did not let a lot of oxygen into the eye. In the 80’s, gas permeable lenses were invented which gave the eye more breathing room.
RGP lenses are made from silicone which gives them more flexibility and allows oxygen to permeate through the lens. The RGP type lenses allow more oxygen than most soft contacts and this means more comfort as well as better eye health.
Another advantage of RGP contact lenses is that they are resistant to protein buildup. Anyone who has worn contacts knows how the protein deposits can make the lenses uncomfortable so this is a boon. This also makes them more durable than regular soft lenses. Although you can’t really see the protein buildup when you look at the lens, it does make a difference to your clarity when you look through the lens so the RGP lenses may even help you see better!
While RGP contact lenses are healthier, easier to clean and longer lasting, they may not be for everyone. Contact lens wearers that have a hard time with soft contacts and those with astigmatism could be some of the people who benefit from this type of lens.
Lee Dobbins, a long time eyeglass and contact lens wearer, writes for Eye Care Online where you can learn more about contact lenses.