What Are RGP Contact Lenses And Are They Right For Me?

By: Jon Silverton

If you've ever wondered about RGP contact lenses, then you're absolutely on the right track to learn more about how these corrective lenses might work for you. These are gas permeable (GP) contacts, also known as rigid gas permeable (RGP's) or oxygen permeable lenses. These contacts are simply miles ahead of the original hard contact lenses of days gone by. Thanks to today's RGP contacts, many people with severe astigmatism or moderately impaired vision are now able to wear contacts for the very first time.

Originally, hard contact lenses, which were introduced to the market shortly after the second World War, were created from a material called PMMA (polymethyl methacrylate). Basically, until the 1970's, there was only one type of contact lens being produced, and it was the "hard" PMMA lens.

Though these lenses did a very good job of correcting vision, they were also very uncomfortable for most people to wear. Many users complained of feeling as if there were "sand in the eye", and were often unable to tolerate them for any length of time, if at all.

The bottom line was that, for far too many people, PMMA lenses were uncomfortable. In addition to this major issue, PMMA lenses were found to be somewhat unhealthy for the eyes because they really didn't allow any appreciable oxygen through the lens to the eye. This was the impetus for scientists to begin researching alternative materials to make contacts out of. Their work led first to soft contact lenses in the late 1970's, and RGP lenses shortly thereafter.

Rigid gas permeable lenses hit the mass market during the 1980s. Unlike the polymethyl methacrylate of yesterday. RGP lenses are made from a silicone base, which is slight more flexible than PMMA. An additional benefit of silicone is that it is much better about allowing oxygen to pass through to the eyes.

The upshot of all this is that RGP lenses are a good deal more comfortable and much healthier for your eyes. RGP contacts even allow more oxygen to reach and nourish your eyes than many types of soft contact lenses. This often makes RGP lenses a no brainer for many people. They are still slightly more uncomfortable then soft lenses, but are far easier to wear then traditional hard lenses.

Another feature of RGP lenses that doctors and wearers love is that they are much more durable then soft lenses and are more resistant to protein deposits. In addition, the user will generally find RGP lenses to give crisper, clearer vision then soft lenses. You will also find them much easier to clean, a good deal cheaper to buy, and best of all, they have a longer usable life than soft lenses.

Despite all of the benefits, RGP lenses simply aren't for everyone. These contacts are best for those folks who have trouble getting great results from regular soft lenses. This includes sufferers of astigmatism, who often find soft contacts lacking when it comes to vision correction.

As mentioned above, though RGP lenses are a great improvement in comfort over the original hard lenses, soft lenses still have them handily beat for total comfort. But regardless of their limitations, there is no denying that RGP lenses have been a breakthrough for contact lens wearers, and have introduced people to the wonders of contacts who otherwise might not have ever been able to wear them.

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Jon Silverton writes about contact lenses at Contacts-Netguide.com and is currently discussing non prescription colored contacts pricing and how this may effect wearers of prescription-based lenses.

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