You may not know about gas permeable (GP) contact lenses or have biases against them if you haven't tried them as an alternative to soft contact lenses. Although GP lenses have been around for a while, they are not as popular as soft lenses. There are several reasons you should speak with your eye doctor about trying out or switching to GP lenses.
The belief that GP lenses are less comfortable to wear than soft contact lenses is only partially true. When you first start wearing your GP lenses, you may have some minor discomfort as your eyes become adjusted to them. Once the adjustment period is over, the comfort is similar to soft contact lenses. The small amount of adjustment to GP lenses is likely to be more noticeable if you are already accustomed to soft lenses verses being a new contact lens wearer.
The differences in initial comfort are due to way GP lenses fit on your eye. Soft lenses are made to fit over your entire iris so that many people with different eye shapes and sizes can wear them. In contrast, GP lenses are smaller and fit within your iris. GP lenses require a special fitting that takes into account the size and shape of your eye, so they are unique to your eye.
Since GP lenses are firmer than soft contacts, you may find that inserting them is a little easier and that they are harder to damage. Soft contacts are malleable, which can cause them to fold and stick to themselves during insertion. Additionally, too much manipulation when trying to insert or remove your soft contacts may cause them to rip, making them unusable. The rigidity of GP lenses helps them retain their concave shape while on your finger.
GP lenses are also superior when you consider the effects of contacts on your eye health. The major advantage of GP lenses is that they allow more oxygen to reach your eye. Increased permeability also affects eye moisture. Many people who wear soft contacts need to remove them after several hours, or they feel the need to use rewetting drops. If you experience dryness or irritation from your soft lenses, you might find GP lenses do not make your eyes dry and you can wear them comfortably all day. The act of rubbing your eyes or protein deposits on soft lenses can also increase irritation of your eyes. Both could potentially cause a scratch on your cornea. GP lenses do not have the characteristic protein build-up of soft lenses.
Naturally, when lenses require a special, more intense eye exam to match your specific needs, the upfront cost will be higher. When you factor in the long-term costs of your GP lenses versus soft contacts, you may find a higher upfront cost is worth the price. Since soft lenses are designed for no more than a month of wear (depending on your specific contacts), you frequently need to buy a new pair or purchase many pairs upfront. This can lead some people to extend the life of their contacts by wearing them much longer, which increases the risk of eye damage or infections. Since GP lenses are designed to be worn longer, the only downside is losing a contact lens. Ideally, you should have at least one backup pair. As long as your vision needs remain the same and your lenses are in good condition, you may own the same pair of GP lenses for several years.
GP lenses may not be right for everyone who wears contact lenses, but there are many people who are missing out on a good alternative to soft lenses. At your next eye exam, ask your eye doctor if GP lenses are a viable alternative. Contact a company that offers eye exams, such as Spectacle Shoppe, Inc., for additional information.