Soft vs. RGP Contact Lenses

Last Updated: November 28, 2022

Below is a brief comparison of soft and rigid gas permeable (RGP) contact lenses. A thorough eye examination and a better understanding of your specific vision requirements will help your doctor of optometry determine the best options for you.

Soft contact lenses

Soft contact lenses are composed of malleable plastic polymers. They are very flexible and, when fit properly, will form to the cornea (the front surface of the eye). They are the most commonly worn type of contact lenses.


Greater initial comfort than hard or RGP lenses.
Shorter adaptation period for new wearers.
Ideal for intermittent wear.
Less susceptible to the intrusion of foreign objects under the lens, such as dust.
Less sensitivity to light than with hard or RGP lenses.
Rarely fall out of the eye, making them ideal for sports, particularly contact sports such as football or basketball.
Available in tinted versions.


Less durable than hard or RGP lenses.
May dry out, causing discomfort for some, especially under a hair dryer, in hot rooms, or in windy, dry weather.
More involved lens care, especially for conventional soft lenses.
Susceptible to more protein or lipid deposits, that reduces lens performance in the long term.
May absorb chemicals from the environment, which can cause irritation.

Rigid Gas Permeable lenses

Rigid Gas Permeable (RGP) lenses have been around since the 1960’s. Newer RGP lenses offer the advantage of allowing more oxygen to pass through to the eye. They are often referred to as oxygen permeable lenses and are available in daily wear and extended wear options.


  • Clear, crisp vision.
  • Correct most corneal astigmatism.
  • Good durability.
  • Good handling characteristics.
  • Easier care system than soft contact lenses.


  • Less initial comfort than soft lenses.
  • Longer adaptation period required than soft lenses.
  • More easily dislodged.
  • More susceptible to the intrusion of foreign objects under the lens, such as dust.
  • Can scratch and break.
  • Intermittent wear is less feasible because adaptation is required if a person takes an extended break from use.