Care of Rigid Gas Permeable Lenses

Rigid Gas Permeable (RGP) contact lenses are a recognised safe form of vision correction.1 However, incorrect care of contact lenses can increase the risk of eye infections and corneal ulcers. Risk factors for contact lens related corneal infection include improper lens cleaning and disinfection including rinsing with tap water, poor hygiene practices and smoking.2 Following your optometrist's hygiene regime, along with regular reviews, will minimise this risk.

Always thoroughly disinfect your hands and dry them with a clean lint-free towel before handling, removing or inserting your lenses. Make sure to clean all parts of your hands, including between the fingers and dry thoroughly.

Safety & hygiene

  • Thoroughly wash hands and fingers with an antibacterial based hand wash
  • Dry hands with a lint free towel
  • Remove lenses while sitting at a table with a lint free cloth
  • Avoid bathrooms as they contain more germs than any other room in the house
  • Inspect lenses for scratches, chips or cracks as these can provide surfaces for bacteria to grow

Always wash and rinse your hands thoroughly and dry them with a lint-free towel/tissue before handling contact lenses. All traces of soap, perfumes, hair-spray, creams and lotions should be removed from your hands and around your eyes.

Insertion

Step 1. Remove lenses from the cleaning solution case and rinse with saline. If using hydrogen peroxide solution a minimum soaking time of 6 hours is required for the acid to neutralise to saline.

Step 2. Place 1-2 drops of a lubricating eye drop and fill the back of the lens. Place the lens on your index finger and inset directly onto the centre (coloured part) of your eye in a face-down position, parallel to the floor. To save confusion, it’s a good idea to always insert the right lens first.

Step 3. If you happen to drop your lens, use saline solution to rinse. DO NOT USE TAP WATER.3 Place the lens in the palm of your hand and rinse thoroughly for 5 seconds.

Step 4. Dry and wipe out your lens case with a tissue. Leave the case lid off to air dry face down.4


NORMAL occurrences on insertion: Occasionally a lens may become dislodged within your eye. This may be uncomfortable but will not do any harm.

  • Look in a mirror to establish where the lens has moved to.
  • Move your eyes in the direction away from where the lens is located – for example, if the lens in your right eye is on the white of your eye nearest to your nose, move your eyes to the right and gently nudge the lens with your eyelids
  • Avoid directly pushing the lens into place as this can damage the surface of your eye

ABNORMAL occurrences on insertion: If on insertion you experience stinging, burning or pain, remove the lens, rinse and re-insert. If pain persists once the lenses have been removed, or if the lens feels as though it is stuck to the eye, contact your optometrist immediately.

Removal

Method 1 – Manual Removal. Using your middle fingers, open the lids wider than the lens diameter. Apply pressure to the lid margins, pushing in together to move your lids under the lens and lever it out of the eye

Method 2 – Suction Removal. Using your middle fingers, open the eyelids wider than the lens diameter. With the suction tool between your index finger and thumb, align the suction cup so it is positioned in front of and parallel to the lens. When the suction cup touches the lens, apply pressure gently to adhere the lens to the cup and remove the lens from your eye. After removal from the eye, carefully slide the lens sideways off the suction tool and it will come off easily

Cleaning

An effective cleaning process is vital to ensure comfortable, hygienic and infection-free contact lens wear. With correct cleaning, contact lenses will feel better on your eyes, allow better eye health and vision, and dramatically reduce the risk of infection. Always clean your lenses after wear, and NEVER RINSE OR STORE YOUR LENSES IN TAP WATER.3 The acanthamoeba microorganism is plentiful in tap water and can cause a severe, painful and sight-threatening infection.

Peroxide cleaner (AO Sept with Hydraglyde)
  • To clean, disinfect and condition: Fill the case up to the line, place your lenses in the correct cage-holder, then submerge the case and screw closed. Over the course of a 6 hour period the catalyst in the case converts the disinfecting hydrogen peroxide solution into water and oxygen gas. The solution also includes Hydraglyde, an ingredient which improves the wettability of your contact lenses.

This cleaning solution requires no rubbing step, which decreases the risk of accidental breakage. The lenses do not need to be rinsed after the clean, as the solution neutralises to sterile water. The case can be left to air dry when not in use, and should be replaced with each new bottle of solution. Take care when transporting the case as sometimes the small gas-release hole can leak solution. Do not remove the lenses from the case before 6 hours, as the un-neutralised hydrogen peroxide in your eyes will sting painfully. If this occurs, rinse thoroughly with water and contact your optometrist if the pain persists or your vision is affected. Find AOSept at our shop here.

Multipurpose solutions (Menicare and Boston Simplus)
  • To clean: Place a few drops of rigid contact lens solution on the palm and the lens, then rub with your finger-pad for at least 10 seconds on each side. The back surface (concave) is best cleaned by moving your thumb across the surface. This step removes material that deposits on the lens during wear.
  • To disinfect and condition: Place the lens in fresh solution in your lens case, ensuring the lens is completely submerged. This step kills microbes on your lenses and prepares the surface of your lens to stay wet throughout wear, increasing comfort. Store your lenses in this solution for at least 4 hours for the cleaning process to be complete.

Whilst RGP lenses are strong, with incorrect technique or too much force they can break, so take care during the cleaning step.

Regular protein removal (Progent)
  • To use: Place the lenses into the contact lens case holders. Open vial A and B by twisting the cap and pour the contents into the contact lens case. Replace the lid and tighten. Leave the lenses in the solution for 30 minutes, then remove and rinse thoroughly with saline.

An intensive cleaner like Menicon Progent cleans and maintain the wettability of your lenses. After rinsing the lenses, they can be worn following this protein clean or can be disinfected with the daily cleaner.

Breakage

Rigid contact lenses are made of a strong polymer which resists damage in normal wearing circumstances. It is very rare for a lens to break in your eye unless something hits your eye or your removal technique is incorrect/very forceful. The solutions you use to clean your lenses will not weaken or degrade them ‒ not even the powerful Progent fortnightly deep cleaner. However, they can still break if mishandled. There are some tricks you can learn to minimise this chance.

Habits that may cause a lens to break include:

  • Pressure on the lens. If the lens lands on a mirror or flat surface. Gently slide it off to the edge of the surface or use a suction tool to remove it from the surface.
  • Pulling the lens too firmly from the suction tool. Slide the lens off the suction point instead.
  • Forcing the lens to bend excessively while cleaning. Some friction force is required to clean a rigid lens using your cleaning solution, but not too much. The resistance from your skin surface will be sufficient to clean the lens. If too much force is applied on both sides of a rigid lens, the lens will flex and eventually snap.

In case of breakage

We understand that when you are learning how to use your lenses you may be inadvertently forceful during insertion, removal or cleaning. Because of this we offer a 1 month manufacturer’s replacement warranty on accidental breakages. Outside of this period, your lens is not covered by a warranty and the lens will need to be replaced at your cost if damaged or lost.

Normally a lens will take less than one week to arrive from the lab when ordered. If you are very dependent on the lens, we will of course ask our lens company to manufacture it as soon as possible. Because of the inevitable waiting time, we encourage all rigid lens wearers to have a spare set of lenses available for a situation where a lens is lost or broken.

Things to remember!

Do not modify the recommended cleaning routine or solutions without consulting your optometrist. Other solutions may not be compatible with your eyes and lenses, and may cause discomfort or allergic reactions. Shortcuts with cleaning solutions may appear to save money but can result in ineffective lens cleaning and disinfection. Incorrect cleaning solutions may damage your lenses or lead to an eye infection which can result in vision loss. For this reason, never clean or store your rigid lens with soft contact lens solutions. These products work in a different way to the rigid lens solutions and will not clean and condition your rigid lenses.

To ensure the solutions are effective and to avoid contamination, replace the contact lens case every time you start a new bottle of lens cleaner to avoid microbial contamination. Do not heat solutions, and do not touch the tips of the solution bottles.

Do not use your rigid gas permeable lenses in the following cases:

  • Acute inflammation or infection of the anterior chamber of the eye
  • Any eye disease, injury, or abnormality that affects the cornea, conjunctiva or eyelids
  • Severe insufficiency of tears or inflammatory dry eye
  • Corneal hypoesthesia (reduced corneal sensitivity)
  • Any systemic disease which may affect the eye or be exacerbated by wearing contact lenses
  • Allergic reactions to ocular surfaces or adnexa which may be induced or exaggerated by wearing contact lenses or use of contact lens solutions
  • Allergy to any ingredient, such as peroxide and hydraglyde in a recommended cleaning solution
  • Any active corneal infection (bacterial, fungal or viral)
  • Red or irritated eyes

Remember, your eye must: look good, feel good, see good - if in doubt, take them out


References

  1. Bailey CS et al. A review of relative risks associated with four types of contact lenses. Cornea, (1990) Journals.lww.com
  2. Ladage PM, Yamamoto K, Ren DH, Li l, Jester JV, Pretoll WM, et al. Effects of rigid and soft contact lens daily wear on corneal epithelium, tear lactate dehydrogenase, and bacterial binding to exfoliated epithelium cells. OPHTHA, Elsevier; 2001 Jul 1;108(7);1279-88
  3. Cornea & Contact Lens Society of Australia. 2020. Contact Lenses And Water Do Not Mix! Website. Available at: https://www.cclsa.org.au/tap/.
  4. Wu, Y., Zhu, H., Willcox, M. and Stapleton, F., 2010. Impact of Air-Drying Lens Cases in Various Locations and Positions.Optometry and Vision Science, 87(7), p.1.