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About Gas Permeable Contacts

Gas Permeable (RGP) contact lenses are hard lenses made of durable plastics that allow oxygen to pass through the lens. Oxygen is essential for optimal eye health, which is why it’s important that contact lenses are permeable to oxygen.

Features of RGP Contact Lenses

RGP contact lenses are often referred to as hard contacts, but they shouldn't be confused with old-fashioned hard contact lenses, which are now obsolete. Old-fashioned hard contacts are made of a rigid plastic material called polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA), which is also known as acrylic or acrylic glass. PMMA has exceptional optical properties, but it is impermeable to oxygen. This characteristic means that old-fashioned hard contacts are uncomfortable for wearers. The lenses can also pop off the eye easily, especially when they’re worn during sports.

In 1971, Bausch + Lomb introduced the technology of soft contact lenses to the world. Their soft contacts were known as the Bausch + Lomb SofLens. This led to the creation of the first RGP lens, which became available in 1979. It used a combination of PMMA and silicone, a synthetic polymer that allows oxygen to pass directly through the lens to keep the outer layer of the eye (cornea) healthy. Manufacturers of RGP lenses also made the edges of RGP contacts fit snugly against the surface of the eye, making them more comfortable to wear than the older variety.

This design change also meant that RGP lenses were able to stay more securely on the eye, even when worn during sports and other activities. Because RGP contacts aren’t made of materials that contain water (like soft lenses), they’re naturally resistant to protein, lipid, and bacteria buildup. Contrary to popular belief, RGP contacts won’t make you prone to dry eyes because they’re highly breathable. This means they’re able to keep the eyes moist throughout the day. Plus, RGP contacts are very easy to clean and handle from insertion to removal.

In addition, RGP contacts typically provide sharper, clearer vision than soft lenses. They’re also exceptionally durable. In fact, they can be worn daily for a year or two before they need to be replaced. This replacement schedule can drastically reduce eye care costs in the long run for contact lens wearers. Some RGP lenses are also designed for extended wear or for overnight use, but eye care professionals (ECP) generally advise against wearing RGP lenses for an extended period of time or while sleeping to avoid eye irritation.

To recap, here are the main features of RGP contact lenses:

  • Resistant to protein, lipid, or bacteria buildup
  • Highly breathable
  • Easy to clean and handle
  • Provide sharp, clear vision
  • Highly durable
  • Less expensive in the long run

Popular RGP Contact Lenses

RGP contacts are some of the most popular lenses prescribed today. Their popularity can be attributed to their exceptional features, such as durability, high breathability, and low cost. Today, contact lens wearers have a variety of RGP contacts to choose from.

Bausch + Lomb, for instance, carries a sizable selection of RGP contacts, thanks to their commitment to the field of RGP lens research. That selection includes contacts from the Boston brand, such as Boston MultiVision and Boston Envision. Bausch + Lomb also offers Zenlens and Zen RC scleral lenses. Both of these RGP contacts are best suited for wearers with astigmatism.

Meanwhile, Contamac, a global leader in contact lens material technology, also offers highly breathable contact lens options under its Optimum range of RGP lenses. Lenses belonging to this range feature a wide range of oxygen permeabilities, excellent wettability, and high stability — features that make Optimum contacts some of the most popular RGP lenses on the market.

How Much Are RGP Contact Lenses?

RGP contacts typically cost about $100 per lens, but each one can last for at least a year before they need to be replaced. As such, a yearly supply will cost you at least $200. That said, some contact lens retailers, such as Lens.com, offer RGP lenses at much lower prices. 

Take note that RGP lenses specifically designed to address astigmatism may cost more. Your ECP may also charge more to fit you with RGP contacts than soft lenses. The fee is higher because an RGP lens fitting often requires more work and follow-up appointments.

How to Insert and Remove RGP Contacts

Wash and dry your hands before touching your RGP contacts or your eyes. Scoop your first lens out of the case with the index finger of your dominant hand and rinse it with a multipurpose cleaning solution recommended by your ECP. Inspect the lens for any tears or debris. Using the middle finger of your dominant hand, pull down your lower eyelid. If necessary, use the middle finger of your non-dominant hand to pull your upper eyelid. Stare straight ahead and gently place the lens on your eye. Blink a few times to center the lens. Repeat this with the other lens.

Don’t panic if the lens doesn’t feel comfortable as soon as you put it in. RGP contacts typically take longer to get used to wearing than soft lenses, but regular use is key for comfort. If you don’t wear your RGP contacts for several days, they may not feel comfortable right away when you put them in again. Try to be consistent with regards to how often and how long you wear your RGP contacts. But if you can’t tolerate them even after weeks of use, RGP contacts may not be a good choice for you. In that case, talk to your ECP about trying a different lens.

To remove RGP contacts, start by washing and drying your hands. For your left eye, place the index finger of your left hand at the corner of your eye and place your right hand below your eye. Stare hard at your right hand, then use your left index finger to pull your eyelid towards your ear. Blink, and the lens should easily pop out of your eye. Use this same technique to remove the right lens. You can do this whole process over a flat surface that’s covered with a clean towel so that you don’t have to worry about catching the lens.

Safety Tips for RGP Lenses

RGP contacts can last for at least a year if they’re removed, cleaned, and stored properly every day. Doing so also helps lower your risk of developing an eye infection or accidentally scratching your cornea. Take good care of your RGP contacts by following these tips:

  • Clean them daily. Daily cleaning of RGP contacts is essential. It’s important to clean your contact lens case daily, too.
  • Don’t use tap water for cleaning. Tap water is generally safe for drinking but not for cleaning contacts. That’s because tap water contains germs and contaminants that can stick to contact lenses. Instead, use a cleaning solution that’s specially formulated for RGP contacts.
  • Don’t wear them when swimming or bathing. Contaminants in water can stick to your RGP contacts if you wear them while bathing. Likewise, contaminants in swimming pools can also end up on your contacts if you swim in them. It would be best to remove your contacts before swimming or bathing. You could also try wearing swimming goggles.
  • Replace your contact lens case regularly. Even though your RGP contacts may last for a year or two, you should replace your contact lens case every few months to avoid contamination with germs and other irritants that can lead to irritation or cause eye infections.
  • Never clean your contacts with saliva. Your saliva contains bacteria that may cause eye infections.
  • Always handle your contacts with clean, dry hands. Before handling your contacts, wash your hands with mild soap and water and dry them thoroughly using a clean, lint-free towel. Irritation or eye infections can easily occur if you insert or remove your contacts with dirty or unwashed hands.
  • Don’t sleep in your contacts. Unless your ECP says otherwise, don’t sleep in your contacts. This can put you at risk for an eye infection.

About Lens.com

Lens.com has been proudly offering high-quality contact lenses at discount prices since 1995. Choose from a variety of our RGP contact lenses and enjoy hassle-free returns, quick shipping, and a 100% money-back satisfaction guarantee.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does 'RGP' stand for?

RGP is short for 'rigid gas permeable'. RGP lenses are available as an alternative to soft lenses. These hard lenses are made from a firm, oxygen-permeable material and offer numerous advantages over regular soft contact lenses.

Are RGP lenses the same as hard lenses?

Yes, today's hard contact lenses are RGP lenses. They are not the same as the original hard contact lenses made of polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA) from the 1970s, which are no longer in use. RGP lenses are incorporated with silicone to allow oxygen permeability that floats on a layer of tears and typically covers about 75% of the cornea. RGP contacts have been known to help slow down the development of nearsightedness in young adults and adult contact lens wearers.

How long can I wear RGP lenses?

RGP lenses usually take some time to get used to. Typically, the first day will start with around 3-4 hours of wear, and for every day after that, you would wear it for a little longer. If the lenses are well cared for and kept clean, they can last for up to 2 years, in some cases even longer. Your eye doctor will be able to advise you accordingly.

Can I sleep in RGP lenses?

You can sleep in RGP lenses if you have been prescribed to do so, and the lens is approved for such use. Currently, the maximum wearing schedule approved by the FDA for RGP extended wear is seven days and six nights. Lenses must then be removed for the seventh night and left out of the eye for at least eight hours.

Gas Permeable Contact Lens Reviews

Rating: 9.1/10 - 345 reviews

Boston EO

Gas Permeable

Shipping was longer than EXPECTED. Ordering prices not clear, shipping, and taxes.

Boston ES

Gas Permeable

I have worn these lenses for years and never had any issues. Vision is clear and crisp. I get about 8hrs wear time sometimes longer depending on weather.

Boston II

Gas Permeable

Great company and fast service.

Boston IV

Gas Permeable

Best price.

Boston XO

Gas Permeable

Ultra fast service, unbeatable prices. Cheaper than the U.K. I will always choose Lens.com. Simply the best.

Boston Equalens

Gas Permeable

I have been wearing Boston Equalens for many many years with no problems. They are the most comfortable lens and I wear them all day, every day. A couple of times during emergency travel I have worn the lens well into the night with no problem. Before Equalens, the other lens I tried were either too dry, too thin and sharp, or uncomfortable to w...

Boston Equalens II

Gas Permeable

I switched to the Boston Equalens II a couple of years ago from disposable lenses and the quality isn't even comparable. I was really missing out by wearing disposable lenses for so long. I get such better comfort with the Boston Equalens II than with any other disposable contact lens. The sight is superior as well because the lens is custom mad...

Fluorocon

Gas Permeable

The Fluorcon contact lens is of very high quality. It also stay comfortable for the entire time that I wear it for. Other RGP lenses that I had in the past would always start to irritate my eyes towards the end of the day but that not the case with these contacts. The Fluorocon is definitely the best gas permeable contact lens on the market

Fluoroperm 30

Gas Permeable

Comfortable and accurate.

Fluoroperm 60

Gas Permeable

Excellent fit! Comfortable as long as I keep it in my eye, which is all my waking hours. It also lasts a long time. I wouldn't trade Fluoroperm 60 lenses for anything else.

Fluoroperm 92

Gas Permeable

I had bad vision ever since I was little. I was that kid in pre school who wore thick glasses. For a long time I did not think it was possible for me to get contact lenses because of my very complicated prescription and the difference between powers in my eyes. Finally my doctor prescribed these phenomenal lenses and freed me from my coke bottle gl...

OP-2

Gas Permeable

When it comes to gas permeable contact lenses the OP-2 cannot be beat. I have always been a fan of the RGP contact lens ever since I started wearing contact lenses oh so long ago and the OP-2 is the best one I have ever worn. It always make my vision perfect and It is very comfortable and fits my eyes great. I know that I can rely on the OP-2.

Paragon HDS

Gas Permeable

Everything is easy to see, read and do my coloring items. The lens fits very nice and easy to put on.

Paragon HDS 100

Gas Permeable

My RGP lens came in and are great. The only thing was that my prescription stated they were to be tinted blue and they came in clear. I also needed them quickly as i had lost one and there was no way to pay extra for a rush order.

Paragon Thin

Gas Permeable

There is no other gas permeable contact lens like the Paragon Thin RGP. I just switched back to this lens after wearing a daily disposable lens for a while. It is convenient to just throw away your contact lenses at the end of the day but it doesn't make up for the lack of comfort and sight. Ill take a little maintenance if it give me perfect si...

Paraperm 02

Gas Permeable

The Paraperm 02 contact lens is much more durable than my disposable contact lenses and it saves me money. This contact lens lasts at least a year so I am not always buying new boxes of contact lenses like I was with disposable contact lens. It is just as comfortable and actually gives me better sight so I am very glad that I switched.

PMMA

Gas Permeable

Fast delivery, well packaged, excellent fit and optical correction. Very happy, thank you.

Polycon II

Gas Permeable

You can't beat the quality of the Polucon II gas permeable contact lens! These contact lenses are so long lasting. I was amazed when I had my first Polycon II contact lens. It seemed like it lasted forever compared to other contact lenses that I had worn. The lens is also very comfortable and give me perfect sight!

Optimum Comfort

Gas Permeable

Great experience, received contacts in a timely manner, they are very affordable. Satisfied customer.

Optimum Classic

Gas Permeable

I had an issue with the lenses that I ordered and they were quickly replaced after one phone call. Very happy with their response.

Optimum Extra

Gas Permeable

I like the quick shipping and the comfort of the contacts.

Optimum Extreme

Gas Permeable

Excellent product. Fantastic service. Easy to reorder. Value for money. Highly recommended.

SA 18 (Phoenix 18)

Gas Permeable

I was tired of always having to buy contact lenses and spend so much money on them so I wanted to make a switch to a rigid gas permeable contact lens. I had heard mixed reviews of them from people but my eyes are pretty resilient. I tried out a few to no avail when finally I tried the SA 18 on. It was much more comfortable than the other ones....

SA 32 (Phoenix 32)

Gas Permeable

No other contact lens has given me better sight than the SA 32 gas permeable contact lens. I have worn this contact lens for a couple of years and every lens that I get always gives me perfect 20-20 vision. There is never any blurriness in my sight. The lens is also very comfortable so there's not much else I could ask for!

Boston XO2

Gas Permeable

I had RGP lenses from Lens.com for a couple of days, having submitted my prescription details. They are comfortable, clear and they arrived within the expected timeframe. I would buy from them again.