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What are RGP Contact Lenses?

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POV of a person with astigmatism, seeing distorted vision looking at a wooden stick figure with its arms positioned in the air. Rigid gas-permeable lenses can help provide sharp, clear vision.

If you are looking for contact lenses that provide sharper vision and more durability than soft lenses, RGP lenses might be the perfect fit for you. RGP lenses, referring to rigid gas-permeable lenses, are a type of contact lens made of a relatively hard, durable and deposit-resistant material that may allow more oxygen to reach the cornea than soft lenses. They are custom-made, meaning that they are specifically designed to fit your eyes.

One of the best ways to know if RGP lenses are for you is to visit your optometrist for an eye exam!  

What Are the Benefits of RGP Lenses?

Wearing contact lenses often requires a careful balance between comfort and visual clarity. RGP lenses could help you strike that balance and offer several advantages over other types of contact lenses.

Sharp Vision

One of the most significant benefits of RGP lenses is their ability to provide sharp and clear vision with superior optical quality to soft contact lenses. Due to the rigid material, they retain their shape and provide a stable surface for light to pass through, resulting in excellent visual acuity.

This feature makes RGP lenses a popular choice for people with astigmatism, where the eye’s cornea (the clear front dome) isn’t perfectly round, causing blurry, distorted vision. 

Similarly, anyone with corneal surface irregularities seen during a slit lamp examination can enhance their overall quality of vision by wearing RGP lenses.


Unlike soft contact lenses that can be fragile and tear easily, RGP lenses are known for their durability. Their firm structure means they’re less likely to scratch or tear, potentially making them a reliable option for all wearers.


RGP lenses have a longer lifespan than soft lenses. With proper care and frequent cleaning, these lenses can last up to 2–3 years. This is even longer than a prescription usually lasts! RGP lenses are an affordable option for anyone interested in wearing contact lenses. Even if your lenses last years, you should still replace your contact lens case every three months.

Better Oxygen Permeability

RGP lenses are made from a material that allows oxygen to pass through them more efficiently. This feature can promote a healthy environment for your cornea and help prevent certain eye conditions, such as hypoxia.

Long-Term Comfort

Although RGP lenses might take some time getting used to, they offer better comfort than you may think. Their rigid material allows for fewer deposits to build up on the lens surface, decreasing the risk of eye complications with proper cleaning and care. Although the first few days of wear may be uncomfortable, the level of comfort should increase the more you wear them.

Do RGP Lenses Have Drawbacks?

While RGP lenses have many benefits, they do come with some drawbacks. Because they’re rigid, they can take time to get used to and may cause some discomfort or irritation at first. Constant wear of RGP lenses is needed to keep a certain level of adaptation; otherwise, it takes a few days to decrease the feeling of lens awareness. They may also fall out of the eye more easily, making it less ideal for active people like runners. Due to their small diameter and the way they move on your eyes, dust and debris can lodge beneath the contact lenses during wear time, creating discomfort; it should be avoided for anyone working in a dusty environment. RGP lenses also require more maintenance than soft lenses in the long run (don’t forget, 2 years!)

A young woman is inserting her new rigid gas-permeable lenses while standing in front of a mirror at an optical store.

Why You Might Need RGP Lenses

While less well-known than soft contact lenses, RGP lenses offer a range of benefits that make them a great option for many people.

Firstly, if you have a high prescription, RGP lenses may be a better option than soft lenses. This is because RGP lenses can correct vision more precisely, and they can also correct a wider range of prescriptions. This means that you may be able to achieve clearer vision with RGP lenses than with soft lenses, especially if you have a high prescription.

Another group of people who might benefit from RGP lenses are those with mild to high astigmatism. Astigmatism occurs when your cornea isn’t perfectly round, distorting your vision. RGP lenses can maintain their shape, even if your eye is irregular, allowing them to still correct your vision. 

Similarly, if you have a corneal scar or any corneal surface irregularities, such as Map-Dot Dystrophy, Cogans’ Dystrophy, Epithelial Bowman Membrane Dystrophy, RGP lenses will reestablish the normal curvature of the eye removing aberration in your vision.

If you have keratoconus, RGP lenses may be the best option for you. Keratoconus is a condition where the cornea thins and becomes cone-shaped, which can cause distorted vision. RGP lenses can provide clear vision by creating a smooth tear layer in front of the cornea, providing clear vision.

In addition, RGP lenses can also benefit those who have dry eye disease, mostly when referring to scleral lenses. Scleral lenses are larger than average, resting directly on the eye’s sclera (the white part) and vaulting over the cornea. This creates a space that acts as a fluid reservoir, providing comfort to people with mild to severe dry eyes preserving the integrity of their cornea and reducing the constant need for eye drops

Specialty Lenses Made for You

RGP lenses are a unique type of contact lens that offers many benefits, including sharper vision. They may be a good choice for people with astigmatism, keratoconus, or dry eyes, but the only way to know if they’re good for you is to ask!

If you’re curious about RGP lenses, the Old South Optometry team can examine your prescription and determine if RGP lenses could give you the clear vision you want. A good pair of contacts can make a world of difference, so book an appointment today and let’s find out if RGP lenses are the solution for you!

Written by Dr. Eric Chevalier

Dr. Eric Chevalier grew up in Montreal and graduated from the University of Montreal, School of Optometry in 2014. He received a certificate of excellence in ophthalmic optics. Prior to receiving his optometry degree, Dr. Chevalier completed a doctorate in molecular biology and a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry. Dr. Chevalier joined Old South Optometry as an associate in 2014 and became a partner in 2017. Dr. Chevalier enjoys doing eye examinations for all family members, from pediatric eye care to comprehensive eye examination, specialized contact lens fitting, and complete management of ocular health conditions.
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