When Gas Permeable Lenses Fail, Scleral Lenses Can Help
When it comes to contact lenses, most people are familiar with soft lenses to help give them clear vision for nearsightedness (myopia), farsightedness (hyperopia), or astigmatism. In some cases, gas-permeable (GP) or rigid gas-permeable (RGP) lenses are recommended. In other cases, they’re less efficient for long-lasting wear.
When this happens, scleral lenses can be a better option. At Scleral Lens Center At Complete Eye Care, we help patients from the Charlotte, North Carolina area enjoy exceptional vision with scleral lenses.
What Are Gas Permeable Contact Lenses?
Gas-permeable contacts are lenses that are made from hard plastic materials. They’re called ‘permeable’ because they allow oxygen to pass through and reach the front of your eye for a more breathable feel.
Unlike soft lenses, GP lenses don’t contain any water. Because of this, many patients find that their GP contacts dehydrate less often. They’re also more durable because the firm materials make it hard for the lenses to tear.
What are Scleral Lenses?
Custom-designed scleral lenses help patients with sensitive eyes or corneal irregularities achieve dramatic improvements in visual acuity and comfort. Scleral lenses vault over the cornea and rest on the sclera (white part) of the eye instead. This creates a new optical surface and prevents discomfort by minimizing irritation to the cornea.
Moreover, the reservoir of pure saline solution between the back surface of the lens and the front of the cornea ensures that the eye is always in a liquid environment – making it optimal for health and comfort. This unique design makes scleral lenses the ideal lens for comfort, sharp vision, and healthy eyes.
We recommend scleral lenses for hard-to-fit eyes, those with keratoconus, or astigmatism, or for people with medium-high astigmatism that other contacts can’t comfortably correct. Scleral lenses are also perfect for anyone wanting to wear comfortable lenses while keeping their eyes hydrated all day.
The Advantages Of Gas Permeable Contact Lenses
- Clearer vision: Because gas-permeable lenses are made of a rigid material, they maintain their shape on the eye, which provides more consistent vision correction. They are also able to correct a wider range of vision problems, including astigmatism, than soft contact lenses.
- Longevity: Gas-permeable lenses are more durable than soft contact lenses and can last up to a year with proper care. This means they are a cost-effective option in the long run.
- Better oxygen flow: Gas-permeable lenses allow more oxygen to pass through to the cornea than soft lenses, which is important for maintaining healthy eyes. This is because RGP lenses are made of a material that is permeable to gases, which allows oxygen to reach the cornea directly.
- Easier to clean: RGP lenses are easier to clean than soft lenses because they do not absorb moisture or other substances as easily. This means they are less likely to develop bacteria or other harmful organisms that can cause eye infections.
- Less risk of dehydration: Because GP lenses do not absorb moisture as much as soft lenses, they are less likely to cause dryness or dehydration of the eyes. This makes them a more comfortable option for some wearers.
- Affordability: GP lenses are tailor-made for each patient. Although there is an initial higher cost, over time, they’re actually more cost-effective since you won’t need to replace them often. Similar to a custom-designed outfit, GP lenses may be priced higher initially, but they provide greater long-term value.
How Long Do Gas Permeable Contact Lenses Last?
GP lenses are made from a durable, rigid material that allows oxygen to pass through to the cornea. With proper care and maintenance, they can last up to one year or longer.
The lifespan of gas-permeable lenses depends on several factors, including how often they are worn, how well they are cared for, and the individual wearer’s eye condition. In general, if the lenses are properly cleaned and disinfected after each use, they can last for a longer period of time.
Can You Sleep With Gas Permeable Contact Lenses?
It is generally not recommended to sleep with gas-permeable contact lenses in your eyes, as this can increase the risk of complications and discomfort.
GP lenses are designed to be removed at night and cleaned and disinfected daily. This is because they are made of a rigid, gas-permeable material that does not allow as much oxygen to pass through to the cornea as soft contact lenses.
Sleeping with GP lenses can further limit the amount of oxygen that reaches the cornea, which can lead to a condition called corneal hypoxia.
Corneal hypoxia occurs when the cornea is not getting enough oxygen, which can cause swelling, discomfort, and blurry vision. In severe cases, it can lead to corneal ulcers and other serious complications.
Can You Sleep With Scleral Lenses?
It is generally not recommended to sleep with scleral lenses in your eyes unless your eye doctor specifically prescribes them for extended wear.
Why Do My Gas Permeable Contacts Get Cloudy?
Gas-permeable contact lenses can become cloudy for several reasons, including:
- Protein buildup: Proteins from your tears can accumulate on the surface of your lenses over time, forming a thin film that can make them cloudy. This is more common if you do not clean your lenses thoroughly or if you wear them for extended periods without removing and cleaning them.
- Deposits from cleaning solutions: Some cleaning solutions can leave deposits on your lenses that can make them cloudy. It’s important to follow the instructions on your cleaning solution and to rinse your lenses thoroughly after cleaning to remove any residue.
- Scratches or damage: Small scratches or chips on the surface of your lenses can also cause them to become cloudy. This can happen if you accidentally drop or mishandle your lenses.
- Old or expired lenses: Over time, even with proper care, RGP lenses can become less clear and more cloudy. This is a sign that they may need to be replaced.
Are Scleral Lenses Better Than Gas Permeable Lenses?
Some patients with misshapen corneas find that scleral lenses give them clear vision for longer periods of time. This happens because of their ability to cover a larger area of the eye without touching the cornea directly. In fact, a recent study from the London South Bank University confirmed that scleral lenses were particularly effective in treating eye diseases due to irregularly shaped corneas.
How Much Do Gas Permeable Contacts Cost?
The cost of gas-permeable contact lenses can vary depending on a number of factors, including the brand, the design, and your location. In general, GP lenses tend to be more expensive than soft contact lenses, but they are also more durable and can last longer. GP lenses usually average around $200 a pair.
Most People Prefer Scleral Lenses Over Gas-Permeable Lenses
Like gas-permeable lenses, scleral lenses are also made from rigid materials, but that’s where the similarities end.
Scleral lenses are specially-designed contact lenses with 2 unique features: a large diameter and a tiny, built-in reservoir of water.
Scleral lenses have a larger diameter than traditional lenses, giving them the ability to rest over the entire area of the sclera (the white part of your eye), but without directly touching the cornea. They also contain a tiny pool of artificial tears, which are built into the lens. This constantly lubricates your eyes for superior comfort all day long.
If you have dry eyes, keratoconus, or other corneal conditions and your GP lenses aren’t cutting it, or you’re ready for an upgrade of comfort and long-term value, it’s time to try scleral lenses. Schedule a consultation with Dr. Barbara Marcussen today.