Whatever Happened To Hard Contacts?

The history of hard contacts

It almost sounds like one of those stories where Grandpa tells you he used to walk to school in the snow, uphill, both directions. But, for an entire generation, the words “contact lenses” they conjure up memories of older contacts. Most people who wore contacts probably have a dramatic memory of when they lost a lens, like stopping a high school basketball game to search for a lens on the court.

It was a little easier to find a missing contact lens back then, because all lenses were what were referred to as “hard” contact lenses.

There are a handful of hard contact lens wearers today, but most people wear newer styles of lenses. The main reason: hard contact lenses lived up to their name. They were made of hard plastic which didn’t allow oxygen to reach the cornea. Although the lenses were durable and would last five to ten years (the main reason why you’d search a basketball court for the lost lens), they could only be worn for short periods of time each day because your eye needs oxygen.

Hard lenses were clear to see through, but they did require more delicate care.

Contact LensIf you’re looking for a more durable lens or have a prescription that requires more than a soft or disposable contact lens, an optometrist may prescribe a rigid gas permeable lens. The RGP lens for short, is more durable than soft contact lenses, but, unlike it’s predecessor the hard lens, it allows oxygen to reach the cornea.

Because RGP lenses are built to last longer than a typical soft lens, the fitting process is more elaborate. Generally, people find that the added investment in the RGP lenses pays off even though they can take more time to get used to. You’ll definitely want to avoid losing them or dropping one down the sink. For that reason,  many optometrists discourage anyone who is especially active or plays a sport to avoid RGP or hard contact lenses.

If you have questions about what kind of contact lenses would be best for you, ask your closest America’s Best optometrist.

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