Gas permeable (GP) contact lenses are rigid lenses made of silicone-containing compounds that allow the transmission of oxygen; essentially allowing your eyes to “breathe” better. These lenses are often less popular than soft contact lenses but offer a number of advantages to contact lens wearers.
First, because GP lenses allow more oxygen to reach the eye, this can reduce the risk of eye problems caused by hypoxia or reduced oxygen supply. GP lenses are also smaller in diameter, allowing less coverage of the front surface of the eye.
Because of their rigid shape that maintains on the eye, GP lenses provide sharper vision. Soft lenses can fluctuate in shape and clarity if they start to dry out. Another advantage to the rigid lenses is that they last longer. GP lenses are harder to tear or rip and don’t need to be replaced as frequently, making them potentially less expensive than soft lenses in the long run.
Gas permeable lenses also have the ability to provide a more stable and accurate correction of astigmatism. Some research also suggests that wearing GP lenses may slow the progression of myopia in some children.
So why doesn’t everyone wear GP lenses?
Well, unlike soft lenses, GP lenses are custom made to the shape of your eye. This makes GP lenses more expensive to replace if they become lost or damaged. In addition to this, they can take up to a week to get a GP lens replaced so it’s a good idea to purchase a spare pair to avoid the inconvenience.
Unlike soft lenses, you may need a few weeks before you become comfortable wearing GP lenses all day. They take some adaptation, but if you can tough it out for the first few days, you may be pleasantly surprised at how comfortable GP lenses become. With that being said, it is also important to know that adapting to GP lenses cannot be part-time. Meaning, you have to wear them every day in order to full adapt to them. If you stop wearing them for several days, you will become more aware of the lenses on your eyes and will have to re-adapt.
GP lenses also have an increased possibility of dislodging due to their small size. In addition to this, since gas permeable lenses don’t conform to the shape of your eye like soft lenses do, so it is possible sand or dust can get under your lenses more often. To minimize this risk, you can wear wrap-style sunglasses outdoors on a windy day or while you’re at the beach.
To find out if gas permeable lenses are right for you, talk to your doctor and schedule an appointment today!