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Rigid Gas Permeable (RGP) Contact Lens Guide for Newbies

Updated on November 18, 2014

Opting to go with RGP Contact Lens is indeed a bold decision (Well done you!). Why? Because only a small pinch of people prefers RGP contacts over the more common soft contacts. This is because RGP contacts are known for its unpleasant and uncomfortable initial experiences, but nevertheless, long term wise, RGP contacts can benefit wearers more than the soft contacts.

Below an overview of the features of RGP contacts:

  • It is rigid;
  • It can be worn for longer hours;
  • It is smaller in size than soft contacts;
  • It is made of gas (oxygen) permeable materials;
  • It can be custom-made for patients suffering from higher level of vision impairments.

My current pair of Gas Permeable Contacts.
My current pair of Gas Permeable Contacts. | Source

How Will You Initially Feel?

As I have said earlier, experience with RGP can be quite unpleasant at the initial stage. For a couple of weeks or even up to a month, most patients have a strong awareness of the lenses, it basically feels as if there are sands in your eyes. Some may feel the lenses are somewhat stuck to their eye lids whenever they blink their eyes. Apart from that, dry eyes is also a common condition for many; this can be tackled via the use of lubricants such as Vismed Eye Drops which is widely sold. Lubricants can be applied even when you are wearing your lenses.

You may also find that your vision becomes fuzzy when it focuses at the brink of the lenses. This is because RGP lenses do not cover the pupils entirely (ie. the lens is smaller than your pupil). Overtime, however, you will get used to focus only at the centre of the lenses and your vision will not shift to the brink that much, hence you will not be disturbed as often by the fuzzy vision.

How Will You Feel Later?

You should get accustomed to RGP lenses in about month provided that you are wearing it everyday. There may still be occasional lens-awareness but it should now be significantly less than before. You will generally feel that the lenses have now fully integrated into your cornea as if it is now part of your eyes.

Can you take naps without removing your lenses?

Yes, but it can be somewhat uncomfortable to do so, again, lens awareness is the problem for some. Moreover,some people toss around a lot and quite violently even after they fall sleep, hence there is a risk of the lenses injuring their corneas unconsciously. Sleeping with your contacts also come with a time limit. My optometrist suggest that i don't sleep with my contact lenses on for more than 30 minutes (in fact, I took it off whenever i nap, just to be safe. Yes, I am quite timid). Therefore, if you do need a nap longer than 30 minutes, take off your lenses before you do so, it will only take you about 30 seconds.

Can you take showers without removing your lenses?

Yes, but rest assured that the tap water won't enter your eyes. Microorganisms from tap water can easily contaminate on contacts and may cause infection. I find it pretty difficult to prevent water from entering my eyes, so I take my contacts off for good every time before going into the shower.

Suction Pump

Suction pump is a small tool that makes inserting and removing contacts easier and safer for wearers. Instead of handling your lenses with bare hands, a suction pump allows you to insert and remove your contacts without touching them, reducing the possibility of bacterial infection. Nevertheless, the downside of using a suction pump is that you may struggle to insert or remove your lenses should you lost your suction pump one day. Therefore, make sure you have an abundant amount of suction pumps and bring one with you wherever you go. A suction pump usually comes with a case, make sure you put your pump back into its case in order to minimize exposure to microorganisms/bacteria.

Solution you need to prepare before cleaning your lenses

Cleaning your RGP contacts is a chore, yes it is annoying but since you have decided to go with RGP lenses, you will need to live with it. Nevertheless, cleaning is pretty simple. The entire process will take no more than 5 minutes (newbies may need around 8-10 minutes). Below are stuffs that you need to prepare prior to cleaning.

  • Saline Solution
  • Conditioning solution (optinal)
  • Cleaner solution
  • Liquid Enzymatic Cleaner (only needed once a week)
  • Lens case

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Ref. Step 1: Bausch & Lomb Advance CleanerRef. Step 2: Bausch & Lomb Saline SolutionRef. Step 3: Bausch & Lomb Advance Conditioning SolutionRef. Step 4: Bausch & Lomb Enzymatic Cleaner
Ref. Step 1: Bausch & Lomb Advance Cleaner
Ref. Step 1: Bausch & Lomb Advance Cleaner | Source
Ref. Step 2: Bausch & Lomb Saline Solution
Ref. Step 2: Bausch & Lomb Saline Solution | Source
Ref. Step 3: Bausch & Lomb Advance Conditioning Solution
Ref. Step 3: Bausch & Lomb Advance Conditioning Solution | Source
Ref. Step 4: Bausch & Lomb Enzymatic Cleaner
Ref. Step 4: Bausch & Lomb Enzymatic Cleaner | Source

Step-By-Step Instruction to Wash Your RGP Lenses

  1. Place one lens on your palm, apply 2 drops of cleaner solution. Rub each side of the lens for at least 20 seconds. DO NOT RUB TOO HARD BECAUSE YOU MAY CRUSH YOUR LENS!
  2. Rinse the lens with fresh saline solution. You may need to repeatedly add fresh saline solution to completely rinse offy the cleaner solution. Make sure the cleaner solution on your lens is thoroughly rinsed away before you put your lens back into its case.
  3. Add 8 drops of conditioning solution into the case to moisturise the lens. Soak your lens in the conditioning solution for a minimum of 4 hours before your next wear. Conditioning solution is not compulsory but is strongly recommended for a more comfortable wearing experience. Otherwise, saline can also be used to replace conditioning solution.
  4. You will need to apply Liquid Enzymatic Cleaner to cleanse the contaminations of protein and lipids on your lenses once a week. Doing this is also fairly easy: After accomplishing step 1 & 2, add ONE to TWO drops of Liquid Enzymatic Cleaner into the lens case, then fill the case with conditioning solution (or saline solution). Soak for a minimum of 4 hours, and rinse your lens with conditioning solution (or saline solution) before wearing.
Source

Step-By-Step Instructions to Wash Your Contact Lens Case?

  1. Discard all remaining solution in the case.
  2. Rinse the case with tap water, while doing this, brush all over your lens case with a clean, unused toothbrush to clear all deposits and contaminations
  3. Prepare a bowl of boiling water, and soak your case in for 3 minutes.
  4. Pour away the boiling water and leave your case under the fan to air dry it.

DOs and DON'Ts for RGP contacts

DOs:

  • Always wash and dry your hands thoroughly before handling contacts;
  • Clean your contacts DAILY using proper solution;
  • Discard all remaining solution in your lens case after each use;
  • Discard ALL unused solution (even if they have not lapse the expiry date) and lens case after 90 days.
  • Dry your RGP lenses thoroughly and place it in a dry lens case if you are to stop wearing them for more than a month.

DON'Ts:

  • Do not use tap water to wash your contacts;
  • Do not wear your contacts in case you catch a cold (increased tear production during a cold can make contacts wearers quite uncomfortable. Additionally, germs from your cold may also exist in your eyes, may spread to your lenses if you are wearing them);
  • Do not place your contacts in places other than in a proper lens case;
  • Do not use expired or home-made solution.

Final advice

Hygiene! Hygiene! Hygiene! I can't stress enough the importance of being a hygienic person once you become a contacts wearer. Keep everything clean, from your hands to the bottles of solutions. Always have your hands washed before you handle (insert, remove, and wash) your contact lenses. Make it a habit, not only to avoid eye infection but to benefit your overall wellness too!

Supplementary Video: The manufacturing process of contact lenses by Johnson & Johnson

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© 2014 Thomas Chan

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