Rigid Gas Permeable Contact Lenses

What Are RGP Contact Lenses?

Not all contact lenses are soft lenses. RGP stands for rigid gas permeable lenses. These lenses were developed as an improvement to the initial contact lenses that had been marketed in the early 1970's. RGP contacts were made to breathe better, be more healthy and more comfortable than the older style lenses. Made in the late 1970's, these contacts are still in existence today, and are a good option for people with certain prescriptions, or vision conditions, and those who expect the sharpest vision quality. RGP lenses were the first contact lens to effectively transmit oxygen to the eye. Rigid contact lenses are smaller than soft contacts, and are made of plastic and silicone. They must be fitted very specifically to the eye, whereas soft lenses have more flexibility and a smaller range of curvatures (sizes) will supply a larger number of eyes. Rigid gas permeable lenses must be custom fit by someone with experience fitting these lenses.

Who Is A Good Candidate For RGP Contacts?

Rigid lenses are not as common as they used to be, since the advent of soft disposable contact lenses. However, they may be a better option for you if you have certain vision needs.

People who may do better with RGP contacts:

  • have higher amounts of astigmatism
  • astigmatism may be the only component of the prescription (for example, Plano - 3.00)
  • patients who have keratoconus
  • those who want a bifocal but have been unsuccessful with soft contact lens multifocals

If you are one of these people and want to try wearing rigid lenses, make sure you see a contact lens fitter or optometrist who has experience fitting them. They are more complicated to fit than standard soft contacts, and if fit incorrectly can cause eye infections, ulcers and vision problems.

You will also want to make sure you have enough time to have the lenses fitted, ordered in if necessary, and also go through the adaptation period and return for a follow up assessment. Don't be in a rush! In other words, don't expect to get fitted with RGP contacts if you're leaving town the next week.

Benefits & Drawbacks of Rigid Gas Permeable Lenses


RGPs have a number of benefits over soft lenses that might just convince you to endure the adaptation period. These are:

  • crisp, clear vision, especially for those with astigmatism; often better than soft lenses
  • lower cost over time
  • last longer, more durable than soft lenses
  • high oxygen transmissibility; in other words, healthy for the eyes
  • bifocal lenses are available, and may work better than soft multifocals

Disadvantages To RGP Contact Lenses

While these lenses have some great benefits, for a lot of people, the disadvantages outweigh them. The drawbacks to rigid lenses are:

  • more difficult to get used to the comfort than soft lenses: there is an adaptation period of up to a ek before the lenses become comfortable
  • it is harder to find a practitioner who fits them
  • not recommended to order online

Ordering RGPs Online

Rigid gas permeable contact lenses are not recommended to order online. Unless you have the exact specifications of lenses that you have worn before, with the correct curvature and power, you may run into problems. If however, you have broken a lens, simply need a replacement, and you have all the information needed to order them online, it may be safe to do so. Be very careful if you do order hue bees lenses online; it is not something we recommend. If you experience any pain, vision loss or distortion, or change in eye health after wearing RGPs ordered online, do not wear them and see your eye care professional.

To Conclude...

Because comfort and convenience are two of the most important features of contact lenses when people are looking to buy, soft lenses have become the contact lens of choice in recent years. But don't completely count out RGP contact lenses if you have more specialized requirements for your vision needs. They may be your lens of choice for your needs.

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