Obituary—Rigid contact lenses

  • Nathan Efron
    Tel.: +61 7 3138 6401; fax: +61 7 3319 6974.
    Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation and School of Optometry, Queensland University of Technology, 60 Musk Avenue, Kelvin Grove, Queensland 4059, Australia
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Published:August 02, 2010DOI:


      Scleral and corneal rigid lenses represented 100 per cent of the contact lens market immediately prior to the invention of soft lenses in the mid-1960s. In the United Kingdom today, rigid lenses comprise 2 per cent of all new lens fits. Low rates of rigid lens fitting are also apparent in 27 other countries which have recently been surveyed. Thus, the 1998 prediction of the author that rigid lenses – also referred to as ‘rigid gas permeable’ (RGP) lenses or ‘gas permeable’ (GP) lenses – would be obsolete by the year 2010 has essentially turned out to be correct. In this obituary, the author offers 10 reasons for the demise of rigid lens fitting: initial rigid lens discomfort; intractable rigid lens-induced corneal and lid pathology; extensive soft lens advertising; superior soft lens fitting logistics; lack of rigid lens training opportunities; redundancy of the rigid lens ‘problem solver’ function; improved soft toric and bifocal/varifocal lenses; limited uptake of orthokeratology; lack of investment in rigid lenses; and the emergence of aberration control soft lenses. Rigid lenses are now being fitted by a minority of practitioners with specialist skills/training. Certainly, rigid lenses can no longer be considered as a mainstream form of contact lens correction. May their dear souls (bulk properties) rest in peace.


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      Linked Article

      • A response to Nathan Efron
        Contact Lens and Anterior EyeVol. 34Issue 3
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          I was interested to read Nathan Efron's obituary of hard lenses in the October 2010 issue of CLAE. I am happy to agree with most of his excellent analysis concerning their demise but, unlike the dead parrot, I am tempted recall instead Mark Twain's comment that the news of [their] death is greatly exaggerated as well asking in the spirit of Monty Python whether the good Professor would prefer a long argument or a short argument?
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