Gas Permeable (GP) or Rigid Gas Permeable (RGP) contact lenses are an alternative to soft contact lenses. Although they are currently less popular than soft lenses, they offer a number of advantages and are continuing to improve as research and technology advance.
GP contacts are made of durable silicone which allows the passage of oxygen through the lens to your cornea and the front surface of your eye – essentially allowing your eye to “breathe”. This increases comfort, health, and safety during contact lens wear. In fact, modern rigid gas permeable contacts allow more oxygen to reach the cornea than most soft contact lenses.
Because of the strong material and the ability to diffuse oxygen, Gas Permeable lenses offer a number of advantages over soft contact lenses.
Health and Hygiene Benefits:
Unlike soft lenses, GPs don’t contain water which makes them less likely to attract and breed bacteria that can cause eye infections. Further protein deposits won’t build up on the lens, keeping them cleaner and healthier.
Because they are made with a strong durable material, GP lenses won’t tear and are easy to clean and disinfect. RGPs maintain their firm shape and will not dehydrate. Further GPs last longer than soft lenses – when cared for properly, a pair can last a year or more.
Gas Permeable lenses can be made larger, and the edges of GP lenses can be fitted closer to the surface of the eye. These design changes make gas permeable lenses more comfortable and easier to get used to than old-fashioned hard contacts. They also tend to stay more securely on the eye when worn during sports and other activities.
GP contact lenses can be custom made for each patient based on the eye’s individual curvature, size, corneal shape. Their ability to transmit oxygen reduces eye problems such as dry eyes caused by reduced oxygen that are common in many brands of soft lenses or hard (non-GP) lenses.
RGP lenses also provide better vision, durability, and are more resistant to deposits than soft contact lenses. Due to the rigid material, their smooth surface can maintain it’s shape while moving along with the eye. Vision is vastly improved as the GP lens maintains it’s integrity and shape for correction. Gas permeable lenses do not dehydrate, which is also a cause for reduced vision with other contact lenses.
Gas permeable contacts last longer than soft lenses, making them less expensive in the long term.
Gas Permeable Lenses for Astigmatism
GP lenses are ideal for individuals with astigmatism that may have been told that they cannot wear soft contacts. Because of the rigid nature of the lens, they hold their shape and are weighted to keep from frequently popping off the eye of an astigmatic patient.
Adapting to GP lenses
So why doesn’t everyone wear gas permeable lenses? Primarily because soft lenses are instantly comfortable, and GP lenses require getting used to – before they are as comfortable as soft contacts. One of the major differences is an experience of “lens awareness” in which you feel the edge of the lens when you blink. However, many people report that after their period of getting adjusted to gas permeable lenses, they find that GP lenses are just as, if not more, comfortable than soft lens varieties.
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