Rigid gas permeable lenses are a type of hard contact lens that allows oxygen to pass through the lens to the eye. Though not as common as soft contact lenses, rigid lenses offer a number of advantages over soft lenses.
Advantages of rigid gas permeable contact lenses
- Rigid lenses are usually more durable than soft contact lenses.
- Rigid lenses may provide clearer vision than soft contact lenses.
- Rigid lenses are usually easier to keep clean than soft contact lenses.
- Rigid lenses can be less expensive than soft lenses in the long run.
- Rigid lenses may slow the progression of nearsightedness in some children.
- Rigid lenses are used to perform orthokeratology, where contact lenses are worn during sleep to reshape the cornea and improve vision.
Disadvantages of rigid gas permeable contact lenses
So why doesn’t everyone wear rigid contact lenses? Potential disadvantages of rigid lenses (compared to soft lenses) include:
- Need for adaptation. Unlike wearing soft lenses (which are usually comfortable right from the start), you may need few weeks before you can wear rigid lenses comfortably all day. Initially, you may be able to wear the lenses only a few hours daily until your eyelids adapt to them. For most patients, a brief adaptation period is followed by comfortable all-day contact lens wear.
- Inability to wear part-time. To fully adapt to rigid lenses and to stay comfortable wearing them, you have to wear them almost every day. If you stop wearing them for several days, you will be more aware of the lenses on your eyes and you’ll have to re-adapt to wearing rigid lenses.
- Increased possibility of dislodging. Because they are usually smaller than soft lenses, rigid lenses can dislodge from your eyes during contact sports or if you rub your eyes aggressively.
- Vulnerability to sand and dust. Rigid lenses don’t conform to the shape of your eye like soft lenses do, so it’s possible sand or dust can get under your lenses at the beach or on a windy day. (You can minimize this risk by wearing wrap-style sunglasses outdoors.)