Hard contact lenses have become less popular over time, particularly following the introduction of soft contact lenses into the market. The main reason being the difficult adjustment required for hard contact lenses vs. soft lenses. This adjustment is not only longer but might even be felt in continuous use of lenses, since every time the lens is used, the eyelid must adjust to the brief encounter with the hard lens. Over time, the lid becomes rigid and the lens is no longer felt.
Rigid Permeable Lenses: Healthier, More Flexible
Another reason for the relatively limited popularity of hard contact lenses is stigma. In the past, hard contact lenses were made of impermeable materials that do not allow sufficient oxygen supply to the eye, causing discomfort and harming the eye’s health. This, as mentioned, is a stigma since rigid gas permeable contact lenses (RPG) are now being manufactured. The manufacturing of RPG lenses involves use of silicone that allows oxygen flow directly to the cornea, and allows some flexibility of the material, which makes adjustment easier. Having now eliminated the main disadvantages of hard lenses, we can now discuss their many advantages over soft lenses.
Rigid Gas Permeable Contact Lenses: Reemphasizing the Advantages
RPG lenses solve the problems faced by hard contact lenses in the past, reintroducing the advantages of hard lenses.
For example, hard contact lenses can be precision fitted, providing greater visual acuity. The fact that they are made of stable materials that maintains the shape of the lens even during blinking adds to this acuity.
Maintenance of hard lenses is relatively inexpensive, and allow for the lens to be polished if the prescription changes. In addition, RPG lenses do not contain fluid, thereby preventing the binding of bacteria and proteins.
In certain cases, RPG lenses are the optimal solution. For example, with regards to people with cylinders, hard lenses can correct up to 4 cylinders without requiring special lenses.
Fitting RPG Lenses: 3 Case Studies
As previously mentioned, in certain cases, RPG lenses offer the best possible solution. Tremendous expertise is required, however, to fit these lenses since the smaller and harder the lens, the greater precision is needed in fitting the diameter and curve to the eye.
As an optometrist who specializes in manufacturing and fitting contact lenses, I encounter numerous cases in which the people despair from putting on hard or soft contact lenses before they hear of the new solution of RPG lenses, and that’s unfortunate.
Below are several cases in which patients have arrived at my clinic in despair. Following an examination, fitting and creative thinking, they left very satisfied.
The communications lecturer who wanted to see the entire class
37-year-old D is a communications lecturer. D suffers from a high cylinder and glasses that limit her field of vision. She has been trying for a long time to switch to contact lenses that would allow her to expand her field of vision and see the entire classroom in one glance, but each time she tried to fit contact lenses, she experienced discomfort, blurred vision or unstable contact lenses.
One of D’s physicians referred her to me. An examination I conducted of D revealed that soft lenses were not ideal for the structure of her eye, due to the high cylinder. I advised D to try RGP lenses, whose shape is more stable and does not allow for the formation of sediments on the lens even after several hours of wear.
Within less than one month, D complete adjusted to the lenses and even after one entire day of wearing them, she experienced no dizziness and reported sharp vision. She also enjoys teaching more.
The photographer who didn’t want to go back to wearing glasses
29-year-old A is a professional photographer who for many years wore contact lenses. Suddenly, A developed an allergy to the saline solution of his soft contact lenses. He tried switching the type of solution but the lenses still triggered an allergic reaction and swelling, forcing him to return to wearing glasses. A arrived at my clinic frustrated, since photographing with glasses interferes with his work as a photographer.
In A’s case, the need for saline solution could be bypassed by using RGP lenses, which allow oxygen to flow without any fluid. Despite the long one-month adjustment to the lenses, A adjusted to them within two weeks. In any case, his profession is full of lenses as well.
The musician who was diagnosed with keratoconus
L is a musician who at the age of 40 was diagnosed with keratoconus, a disease in which the cornea becomes twisted from a cap-like shape to a more cone-like shape. The early diagnosis of the disease allowed stabilization of his vision but he still required contact lenses to correct the damage that was already caused. L was referred to me by his attending physician to fit lenses.
Following a thorough examination that I conducted, I saw that I was unable to fit soft contact lenses due to the shape of the eye. In this case, I recommended hard contact lenses made of stable materials and that correct his high cylinders in the best possible manner.
It is not easy to adjust to contact lenses for the first time at the age of 40 but L did so within one month and is now reporting good vision with no side effects.
Summary: Remain Openminded
Be wary of stigmas and permanent solutions. My experience indicates that all vision problems have a suitable solution. One only needs to conduct an in-depth examination, remain updated on new developments, think out of the box and customize a solution to each individual.
Have you tried wearing lenses in the past and failed to adjust? Come in for an examination. We will find a solution for you.