Why Doesn't Everyone Want RGPs?
BY JOSEPH T. BARR, OD, MS,
RGP contact lens materials are better than ever. RGP contact lens manufacturing is better than ever. Put those facts together and you have the best designed and manufactured devices we've ever seen. Experienced practitioners swear by them. Some patients who could wear some other type of contact lenses swear by their RGPs and wouldn't trade them for any other refractive treatment. These are very loyal patients. And other patients, such as those with irregular astigmatism, can't get best corrected visual acuity by any other means. And these patients often have compromised, diseased, post-surgical, post-traumatic conditions. So why doesn't everyone want RGP contact lenses?
Yes, there's that initial comfort thing. Good RGP practitioners don't have a problem with that. And soft toric contact lenses are better than ever. But why doesn't every myope with significant with-the-rule cylinder get considered for RGP lenses? Most of them do not work in dusty environments. Sure, corneal health can be as good as it can be with high Dk RGP contact lens wear. But we've known for a long time that this may not motivate the patient and practitioner adequately.
The real reason that RGPs are not setting record sales is courage. Most practitioners do not have the will to do a little more work up front to make an RGP candidate successful. Some of us argue that there are fewer and fewer of these practitioners. And yet, some things may be keeping RGPs in the running. Education continues, easier fitting systems and planned replacement will be readily available and better bifocal designs help. Using RGPs to curtail myopia progression (yet to be well proven) and refractively change the cornea may have an impact. Stay tuned, you may need those RGPs more than you think.