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Rigid Gas Permeable contact lenses are a superior contact lens option, but they have inherited an unfair and undeserving bad reputation from hard lenses.

 
Rigid Oxygen Permeables Art

Do You Need A Ferrari Or A Minivan?

In discussing contact lens options with patients, I am often asked "What is the best lens currently available?" The answer to this question of course, depends on the specific criteria that we are trying to satisfy for the individual. For example, what is the best car on the market today? Would a Ferrari be the obvious choice? Although a Ferrari is an incredible car, a parent of five would hardly consider this the best choice of vehicles since it will not satisfy the necessary criteria. In a similar fashion, there is no single type of contact lens that is the "best" for everyone.

 

Hard Lenses Are Old, Gas Permeables Are New!

The two main types of contact lenses are soft and rigid. Soft lenses encompass many different types but they all have one thing in common. Some percentage of the lens is made up of water, which is what gives the plastic its floppy flexible characteristics. Rigid lenses on the other hand are rigid because there is no water in the lens. The rigid lenses of today should not be confused with the hard lenses of thirty-five-plus years ago, and to the contrary are in fact representative of the most technologically advanced lenses to date. In this country, the national statistics show that approximately nine out of every ten contact lens wearers are wearing soft lenses. This statistic is actually rather unfortunate since many current soft contact lens wearers could be more appropriately and better served by wearing a rigid lens but for any one of a number of reasons might feel that this would not work for them.

 

What's In A Name?

"... rigid lenses were just as comfortable as their previous soft lenses."

The main apprehension that seems to be associated with rigid lenses is the erroneous assumption that since the lens is rigid, it must be painful. Unfortunately, it is a poor choice of words in that "soft" sounds much more comfortable than "rigid" when in fact, the comfort of a contact lens has nothing to do with the flexibility of the lens material. I have personally refit many soft lens wearers into rigid lenses and have heard these people comment that the rigid lenses were just as comfortable as their previous soft lenses. I've even had some soft lens wearers that weren't really all that comfortable with their soft lenses go into a rigid lens and comment immediately that their soft lenses were never as comfortable as these new rigid lenses that they are wearing. Of course these individuals also appreciated many other benefits from their rigid lenses and preferred them greatly to their soft lenses. They will not return to soft lens wear again.

 

Several Advantages

So you might be wondering what some of the advantages rigid lenses have compared with soft lenses. Crisp vision is best achieved with rigid lenses. Astigmatism is better corrected with a rigid lens also contributing to sharper vision. Handling is much easier since the rigid lenses donít flex you canít put them on inside out - a common problem with soft lenses. They are also much simpler to take care of with respect to maintenance. They can be used for Orthokeratology to reduce the prescription and slow or completely halt the progression of myopia. Although the initial sensation of the lens is greater (because it is smaller than a soft lens) the long term comfort is actually better than with a soft lens. This is due to several reasons but are not due to the single common mistaken belief that you develop a callus on your eye. Rigid lenses also do not dry out like soft lenses since there is no water contained in them. Many people who suffered with dry eye symptoms due to their soft lenses drying out, have had a rigid lens come to the rescue to provide them with more comfortable contact lens wear. The wearing time for rigid lenses also outperforms soft lenses. Soft lens wearers seem to average about 12 hours per day and also will occasionally miss some days entirely due to the feeling that they just need to give their eyes a "break." Rigid lens wearers on the other hand seem to average about 16 hours pers day and it is truly a rare occurrance that they miss any days of wear.

 

Benefits, And A Pleasant Surprise!

Perhaps one of the most important features of rigid lenses is that they are healthier since they let more oxygen get to the eye while also not accumulating as much debris, mucous, bacteria and protein like soft lenses. Additionally, rigid lenses are custom designed, manufactured and fit to your eyes to ensure that the lenses provide the very best vision, comfort and health possible. All of these benefits typically have people then asking what it is all going to cost, yet much to their surprise, the long-term costs are significantly less than soft lenses. Whether a current soft lens wearer, former hard lens failure, or contact lens failure in general, rigid oxygen permeable lenses may hold the key to your great contact lens wearing success.