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What Are RGP Contact Lenses?

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A pair of contact lenses in a contact lens case, with someone pouring contact lens solution over them

When it comes to vision correction, you have options: Wearing eyeglasses or having laser eye surgery are two of them, but for those who seek a convenient, everyday solution, contacts are often the right fit. Contact lenses offer an alternative for a noninvasive and unobstructed solution to clear vision and are available in many different types.

A common form of hard contact lens is a rigid gas permeable contact lens, or RGP. Because they are a flexible plastic material, these contact lenses are durable, allow oxygen to pass through, and can correct refractive errors

RGP Contact Lenses

Unlike soft contact lenses, RGP lenses consist of a firm, oxygen-permeable material that can maintain its shape and does not conform to the shape of the eye. Because of this, they’re ideal for correcting certain vision conditions such as astigmatism

A contact lens exam can help determine if specialty contact lenses, such as RGP, are right for you. During this exam, your eye doctor will perform several tests, such as measuring and mapping your cornea (outer surface of the eye), detecting vision problems, and recommending what type of contact lens will work best for you. 

Benefits of RGP Contact Lenses

Rigid gas permeable lenses offer several benefits, including:

  1. Clear and sharper vision: RGP lenses, compared to soft contact lenses, are firm and can provide clearer and sharper vision because they can retain their shape when you blink. 
  2. Durability: RGP lenses are more durable and long-lasting compared to soft contact lenses. With good care and as long as you don’t require a prescription change, a pair of RGP lenses can last for 2–3 years
  3. Ease of cleaning: The care system for RGP lenses is often considered easier than for soft contact lenses.
  4. Customizable: RGP lenses can fit each individual’s eye’s specific prescription and curvature, providing a more comfortable and accurate fit.
  5. Deposit resistance: RGP hard lenses are more resistant to protein and lipid buildup because they don’t contain water like soft contact lenses. 
  6. Cost-effective: RGP contact lenses may be less expensive in the long run because they can last longer than soft contacts.
  7. Specialty contacts for astigmatism: Scleral lenses are one type of RPG that can correct vision for people with astigmatism.
A young woman smiling and holding a contact lens on her right index finger

Limitations of RGP Contact Lenses

While the benefits of RGP contact lenses are many, there are some drawbacks or limitations to consider:

  • Less initial comfort 
  • Longer adaptation period 
  • More easily dislodged
  • Susceptible to foreign objects under the lens, such as dust
  • Can scratch and break

Visiting your eye doctor to discuss RGP lenses can help you determine if they’re the right fit for you. 

Vision Problems RGP Can Correct

Rigid gas permeable contact lenses commonly correct a variety of vision conditions, including:


Myopia, also known as nearsightedness, is a vision condition in which distant objects appear blurred. RGP lenses can correct myopia by changing the focus of light entering the eye on the retina (the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye). 


Hyperopia, also known as farsightedness, is a vision condition in which close objects appear blurred. RGP lenses can correct hyperopia by counteracting the decreased curvature of your cornea or the smaller length of your eye.


Astigmatism is a common vision condition in which the cornea is irregularly shaped, causing distorted or blurred vision at any distance. RGP lenses can correct astigmatism by counteracting the uneven curvature of your cornea or lens.


Keratoconus is a progressive eye condition in which the cornea thins and bulges outward, causing distorted vision. RGP lenses can be custom-made to fit the specific shape of the cornea in individuals with keratoconus, providing clear vision.

RGP Contacts for Clear Vision

RGP lenses provide clear vision, are more durable and longer-lasting, and allow for better oxygen flow to the cornea compared to soft contact lenses. However, they can take some time to adjust, and only some people are suitable candidates for RGP contact lenses. 

Caring for RGP Contact Lenses

Caring for your contact lenses can make them last longer and decrease your risk of eye infections and scratches. Here are a few tips on caring for your RGP contacts:

  • Clean hard contact lenses and contact lens cases daily. 
  • Don’t use tap water to clean contacts. Use cleaning solutions for hard contact lenses.
  • Avoid wearing contacts while swimming or bathing.
  • Replace the contact lens case every few months to avoid contamination.
  • Never clean your contact lenses with saliva.
  • Wash hands thoroughly when handling contact lenses. 
  • Don’t sleep in your lenses, as this can increase your risk of eye infections. 

Curious to See If Contact Lenses Are Right for You?

If you’re interested in wearing contact lenses, book an appointment at Total Focus Optometry in Edmonton for an eye exam and a contact lens fitting to find the ideal pair of contact lenses for your needs. 

Written by Dr. Craig M

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