What Vision Problems Do Corneal Rigid Gas Permeable Lenses Correct?

Rigid gas-permeable (RGP)

Rigid gas-permeable (RGP) lenses are a type of contact lens made from hard, rigid plastic that retains the oxygen permeability that you would typically expect from softer or more flexible contact lenses. RGP lenses are even more permeable to oxygen than the traditional soft lens. Often, how oxygen-permeable a contact lens is, has a direct relationship with how comfortable the lens is and how easy it is to wear for an extended period. The complicating factor with RGP lenses is that, while gas permeability is important to comfort, soft contact lenses are often considered to be the premium option for lens comfort. While soft lenses do provide a more instant fit and more comfort than RGP lenses, RGP lenses can undoubtedly provide a high level of comfort as well—just after an adaptation period.

Are you interested in learning more about RGP lenses, or in finding out whether they are the ideal option for you? Here are the specific vision problems for which we generally recommend RGP lenses over soft contact lens options:

  • Astigmatism is a condition characterized by irregular shaping of the corneal surface. For more minor diagnosis of astigmatism, soft or hybrid contact lenses are a suitable option for treatment. However, more severe cases of astigmatism may stray beyond the range of vision correction that you can effectively achieve with soft contact lenses. For these patients, we prescribe RGP lenses.
  • Presbyopia, or age-related farsightedness, occurs as the lens of your eye begins to lose its elasticity—and, by extension, loses its ability to focus on nearby objects. To avoid compromising distance vision, the most effective way of treating presbyopia is often to prescribe bifocal or multifocal glasses or contact lenses. RGP lenses can incorporate bifocal or multifocal designs with ease.
  • A progressive eye disease, keratoconus, is characterized by a thinning of the cornea, which then begins to bulge outwards in a cone shape. The conical shape of the abnormal cornea struggles to focus light properly, leading to vision distortion. Because keratoconus worsens over time, hard lenses are typically a more suitable long-term solution than soft contact lenses. RGP lenses can provide the proper level of vision correction while still offering comfort for the patient. Because these lenses maintain their shape, they are better for treating irregularities such as the cone-like shape caused by keratoconus.

    Related Post: Living with Keratoconus? You’re Not Alone!

  • Post-surgery ectasia. Post-surgery ectasia is a condition that resembles keratoconus, with the cornea bulging outward into a similar cone-like shape. The difference is that, where the corneal thinning that occurs during keratoconus typically occurs as a result of genetic inheritance and/or severe eye rubbing, it is triggered in post-surgery ectasia by the surgery itself. Laser eye surgeries, such as LASIK or PRK, help reshape the cornea or remove excess tissue to achieve better vision. A complication, in some surgical cases, is excessive thinning of the corneal surface, which can, in turn, lead to symptoms very similar to keratoconus. As with keratoconus, the best method for treating post-surgery ectasia is through the use of RGP lenses.

    Related Post: Keratoconus Treatment in 2020: What Should We Expect?


Patients who have not had luck correcting their vision problems with soft contact lenses, or those who desire a sharper level of vision than soft lenses can provide, can also benefit from trying RGP lenses.

If you believe that RGP contact lenses may be the right fit for you, call Miami Contact Lens Institute to schedule an appointment with us today. As experts in the use of specialty contact lenses, we can advise you on which lenses are ideal for your situation—whether its RGP lenses, scleral lenses or another lens modality!

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