Which Kind of Contact Lenses Should You Pick? Soft or Rigid Gas Permeable?

Soft contact lenses or GP contact lenses?

Having choices can sometimes be baffling. Ais kacang or cendol, work hard or procrastinate, GSC or TGV? Every bit of life is a choice. And the situation only becomes even more complicated when the choice involves something as important as your eyesight. We’re here to make this difficult decision just a little bit easier.

Right now, there’re basically two categories of contact lenses on the market – soft contact lenses, and Rigid Gas Permeable (RGP) contact lenses. You might remember the hard lenses that our aunts and uncles used to wear, but as they’re now practically obsolete, we won’t delve into them.

Before picking the type of lenses that’ll suit you best, you will need to think about how often you’d like to change them, and how you’d be using them. There are three types of RGP and soft contact lenses, which include

Daily wear: Use during the day and remove during the night to be cleaned and disinfected.  (RGP and soft lenses)

Extended wear: These kinds of lenses can be worn while you sleep. Must be removed for cleaning and disinfecting according to package instructions. Need to be careful with overnight use as it can increase risk of eye infections.  (RGP and soft lenses)

Disposables (1-day, 2-week, 1-month): Must be discarded or replaced after wearing for one day or up to one month. 2-week and 1-month lenses should be cleaned daily. (Only soft lenses)

Pros and cons for RGP and soft contact lenses:

Soft contact lenses:
The Good:

  • Breathable
  • Comfortable and flexible (from the moment you put them on)
  • Extended wearing time
  • Stays in place
  • Available in toric (if you have astigmatism), bifocal and multifocal (for more than one type of vision problem)lenses
  • Multiple disposable periods to choose from (daily, bi-weekly, monthly)

The Not-So-Good: 

  • Prone to tearing by nails (as lenses are made from gel-like plastic)
  • Can dry out your eyes after prolonged wearing (because it absorbs water)
  • Shorter life span, needs to be replaced according to disposable period (so costs more to upkeep)
  • Less effective in correcting some vision problems (especially astigmatism)
  • Higher risk of infection (as soft lenses absorb your tears which contain protein deposits, they’re more likely to  harbour bacteria)

Rigid Gas Permeable contact lenses:
The Good:

  • More breathable than soft contact lenses (as they are made from a special permeable material)
  • Lower risk of eye infections (lower water retention, lower protein deposits from tears)
  • More durable (made of a firm plastic, lenses don’t tear or get scratched)
  • Lasts longer (up to two years) if prescription stays the same
  • Provides sharper vision than soft contact lenses (especially for astigmatism or bifocal needs)

The Not-So-Good:

  • You’ll need time to adjust to the lenses
  • More likely to slip off the center of your eye than soft contact lenses – leading to discomfort and blurred vision
  • Must be consistently worn everyday for them to be most comfortable
  • Must visit optician for follow-up

Before you buy: 

Different people have different tolerance for contact lenses. Some develop problems while others never encounter any discomfort at all. Those who are more likely to develop problems with contact lenses include:

  • Those with a history of repeated eye infection or severe allergic reactions
  • People who have low tear productions or high mucous content in their tears

It’s best to see an optometrist and have them assess your condition before trying on contacts.


Contact lens users out there! Which kind of contacts do you use and how has it worked out for you? 


Written by: The HealthWorks Team
Sources: All About Vision, CNIB, NHS, Department of Health, Hong Kong, Mayo Clinic, EyeSmart, Only Health

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