Below is a brief comparison of soft and rigid gas permeable (RGP) contact lenses. A thorough eye examination and a better understanding of your specific vision requirements will help your doctor of optometry determine the best options for you.
Soft Contact Lenses
Soft contact lenses are composed of malleable plastic polymers. They are very flexible and, when fit properly, will form to the cornea (the front surface of the eye). They are the most common type of contact lens worn.
- Greater initial comfort than hard or RGP lenses.
- Shorter adaptation period for new wearers.
- Ideal for intermittent wear.
- Less susceptible to the intrusion of foreign objects under the lens, such as dust.
- Less sensitivity to light than with hard or RGP lenses.
- Rarely fall out of the eye, making them ideal for sports, particularly contact sports such as football or basketball.
- Available in tinted versions.
- Variable wear schedules – i.e. daily disposables that eliminate the need for lens cleaning all together.
- Less durable than hard or RGP lenses.
- May dry out, causing discomfort for some, especially for those in offices with forced air circulating, in hot rooms or in windy, dry weather.
- Susceptible to more protein or lipid deposits, which reduces lens performance in the long term.
- May absorb chemicals from the environment, which can cause irritation. Also, chlorine from the pool which can lead to irritation.
Rigid Gas Permeable Lenses
Rigid Gas Permeable (RGP) lenses have been around since the 1960s. Newer RGP lenses offer the advantage of allowing more oxygen to pass through to the eye. They are often referred to as oxygen permeable lenses and are available in daily wear and extended wear options.
- Clear, crisp vision.
- Good at correcting astigmatism.
- Good durability.
- Good handling characteristics.
- Easier care system than soft contact lenses.
- Less initial comfort than soft lenses.
- Longer adaptation period required than with soft lenses.
- More easily dislodged.
- More susceptible to the intrusion of foreign objects under the lens, such as dust.
- Can scratch and break.
- Intermittent wear is less feasible because re-adaptation is required if a person takes an extended break from use.