The RGP Experience
In optometry school, we learn that macular degeneration is a serious sight threatening condition that affects your central vision. This condition is thought to be caused by smoking and UV light. It seems to be hereditary and is more common in those of Caucasian race. As a white female with light green eyes and a grandmother with macular degeneration, one of my main eye related concerns is UV protection and prevention of this blinding disease. We recently learned in our physical optics course that Rigid Gas Permeable (RGP) lenses provide the best UV protection of the contact lenses and are also better for the health of the cornea because they’re so oxygen permeable. Further, they’re easier to take care of, cheaper in the long run and the vision is even crisper than regular contact lenses. These seem too good to be true and being the curious person that I am, I just decided I have to try these.
Of course I did wonder, if these are so awesome, why does everyone wear soft lenses? After discussing with a few of the doctors in my primary care suite, I was warned that they are not the most comfortable to wear. In order for me to be the best clinician I can be, I feel as though I need to experience everything I’m going to be prescribing and counseling my patients on. So, I mentally prepared myself and decided that I would try the RGP lenses for at least 1 month. I figured if I can’t get used to them in 1 month, then I’m not going to and I can be thankful that I don’t have one of those prescriptions where this is the only option.
Because these lenses are so uncomfortable, you have to start a wearing schedule that goes something like this: day 1, wear the lenses for 4 hours, increase by 2 hours each day, and book a follow up in 1 week. Sounds easy, right? My wearing schedule went more like this:
Day 1, 4 hours of wear time: I just left the office and I’m checking my watch to see when I can take these out. Every time I blink, I have to wait for the lens to settle before the vision is clear. I think the right one is slightly more comfortable than the left; the left one seems to move a lot more each time I blink.
Day 2: “I have optometry lab today and I have to sit as patient, so I’ll put them in this afternoon after lab…” So,
Day 3, 6 hours of wear time: These lenses are making me so grumpy!! I was told my eye lids looked swollen. I can’t stop rubbing my inner canthus. They make me feel a bit off, so for the big event this afternoon, I’ll take them out and wear my glasses- I need to be on my “A” game.
Day 4, 8 hours of wear time: I wanna scratch my eyes out. I think I’ve lost more than a few eye lashes at this point. I feel like my eyes are so incredibly dry, and it makes me want to blink every second- except then I have to wait for the lens to settle again. Arrgggggghhhh!!
Day 5: I feel like I want to put eye drops in every 5 minutes or so.
Day 6: I’m just going to wear my soft lenses today.
After trying these lenses, I am very thankful that I do not have to wear these. I think it’s safe for me to say that this was an unsuccessful experience in terms of me becoming an RGP wearer. However, I am glad that I got the chance to experience them through the educational contact lens program.