SUMMARY: soft vs. gas permeable contact lenses 
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 SUMMARY: soft vs. gas permeable contact lenses

Sorry I took so long to post this, but right after getting my new lens, we
left on a ski vacation for a week :-) and then I was swamped trying to catch
up at work when I returned :-(.  Anyway, I decided to replace the gas
permeable lens that had broken.  While waiting for it to come in, I tried
wearing the disposable soft lenses the doctor had given me to try, but I found
them unbearably uncomfortable, so I *disposed* of them.  Then I wore my old
soft lenses that I had been keeping since I originally got the gas permeables.
They were much more comfortable than the disposables (so, no, Brett, I don't
have a corneal tear or abrasion - also, I had just seen my doctor for a
thorough exam), but didn't give me the crisp vision I had gotten used to.

I want to point out that when I mentioned ordering lenses via mail order, I
was not considering going without a doctor's exam.  After getting a new exam
and prescription from my doctor, I have gotten soft contacts at a much better
price than getting them through the doctor (with mark-up), by having a friend
(licensed optometrist in another state, now working as a programmer here)
order them for me.  I didn't think that this could be done with gas permeables
due to the fit consideration.  With the soft lenses, I just had my friend
order the same brand I had been wearing, but with the new prescription.

Well, enough rambling.  Following is my original post, followed by the
responses I received (edited somewhat for brevity).  It appears that the
decision is a personal one.  There were six votes for gas permeable, two for
regular soft, three for disposables, and two against disposables.  Thank you
very much to everyone who took the time to respond.

> I will be returning to the eye doctor next week and need to make a
> decision about whether to get soft or gas permeable contact lenses.
> And if I decide to go with soft lenses, disposable or not.  I would
> appreciate opinions as to the pros and cons of each, including such
> points as safety, vision improvement, cost, etc.

> I have worn both types, and don't find much difference in comfort,
> once I get used to the gas permeable ones.  I tried gas permeable
> last time (about 1-1/2 years ago) because I thought they would last
> much longer than the soft; long enough to compensate for the higher
> cost.  But last week one of the lenses broke in half.  The nurse told
> me that was not uncommon.

> Some things I have considered are:
> - soft lenses are less expensive (especially if you order them via
>   mail order)
> - hard lenses cannot be ordered via mail order due to the "fitting"
>   required (is this true?)
> - hard lenses are **supposed to** last longer
> - hard lenses take longer to get used to till they become comfortable
> - hard lenses are much less comfortable on windy, dusty days
> - soft lenses tend to fog up when not blinking enough (i.e. while
>   stareing at a CRT)
> - soft lenses can absorb fumes and become uncomfortable in certain
>   situations
> - soft lenses require more careful handling
> - hard lenses can slow down changes in prescription by "molding" the
>   cornea (is this true?) [when I was wearing soft lenses (many years)
>   it seemed my prescription changed a bit every year; it has not changed
>   over the last 1-1/2 year of wearing gas permeable lenses]

> The doctor gave me a pair of disposable soft lenses to try for a week.
> I find they are not as comfortable as either the gas permeable lenses
> I was wearing, or my old soft lenses that I wore for a week after one
> of the hard lenses broke.  They are thinner, newer and cleaner than my
> old soft lenses (which have seen about a year of use).  I find this
> very strange.

> Thanks for any ideas, suggestions, etc.

> -sandy

I was so glad to see your posting.  I thought I was the only person alive who
found the disposable contact lenses to be very uncomfortable.  I had worn both
hard and soft lenses previously, and never could get used to the disposables,
although I tried several times.

I have soft lenses now, which I like far far more than the hard/gas permeable
lenses I had before.  However, for the past 6 months or more I've worn glasses
almost exclusively, and I actually prefer them now to contact lenses.

If you're set on contacts, I'd go with daily wear soft.  My boyfriend had
trouble with the extended wear, even though he's in excellent health and was
maticulous about cleaning the lenses regularly.  You might also want to
consider the new eyeglasses made out of carbon compounds.  I have TERRIBLE
vision 20/575, and the glasses are so light that I hardly notice them.  The
frames are a brand called "Marchon" and they have silicon pads that rest
comfortably on the nose.  They also have a lot of cute styles to choose.

Good-luck, Colleen

Organization: HaL Computer Systems

I have never worn gas-permeable hard lenses; just soft lenses of all types
(daily, extended and extended/disposable).  For me, the disposables are
definitely the best.

For one thing, try as I might, I couldn't keep the daily-wear or extended-wear
lenses as clean as they should be, and they got seriously uncomfortable after
only a few months; they're supposed to last substantially longer than that.
With the disposables, you toss them after a couple of weeks, and they don't
get a chance to get anywhere close to dirty... no enzymatic cleansers, etc.

Drawback - they cost more.  I wear my contacts about 2/3 of the time and
glasses about 1/3 (also, glasses at night, my eyes dry out too much if I wear
contacts when I sleep), so I get about $250 - $300 of contacts per year, sort
of steep.  Then again, you _do_ save a little ($30?) on cleansers...

You found the disposables to be uncomfortable?


Organization: RADC

I wore soft contact lenses from 1981-1984.  I really liked them at the time.
Then I got stationed in California (in 1982) and started having problems,
mainly because of my allergies (that I didn't have until I moved to California)
My eyes weren't producing tears so everything was foggy, my eyes were always
irritated from the dryness of my lenses.  I also am very nearsighted (20/1000)
and my prescription was changing every 6 months (getting worse).  Couldn't
take it anymore so went to an eye doctor recommended by my then boss (this
was in 1984) and told him I was concerned not only with not being comfortable
but with my sight getting so bad, like at this rate would I be blind before I
was 30 (I was 21 at the time).  He recommended gas permeable lenses to slow
down the nearsightness and said because they allow more oxygen to the eyes
then soft lenses, they help produce tears.  Well that sold me so I bought them
for $200.  Well here we are 8 years later and I still have the same pair.
I broke one two times in those 8 years (cost $70 each to replace).  I also
have had to get the scratches buffed out a couple times.  But, my eye sight
has not gotten worse in those 8 years so to me this has been the best thing
about them.  I say stay with the gas permeable based on my experience.  Only
a $340 investment in 8 years.  A lot cheaper then new soft ones every 6 months.

Hope this helps.  Good luck.  Let me know what you decide.

Cathy Barney

You forgot to mention that gas-permeable lenses give sharper visual acuity
than the soft lenses.  That and durability, easier/cheaper-maintenaince are
the reasons why I chose gas-permeable.  If you consider the cost and the extra
work of maintaining the soft lenses, gas-permeable might win out.  I am also
surprised that you are finding out the gas-permeables are more expensive than
the soft lenses: it is the opposite with my local optometrists.

I have been wearing gas-permeable for close to ten years.  My prescription
hardly changed, actually improved slightly, over that period; but, this effect
may be related to aging process more than the structural effect of the lenses.
Only problem I seem to be having is that after few years, my old lenses become
irritable and no amount of cleaning or polishing helps.  Maybe regular use of
enzyme cleaner might eliminate the problem but that would change slightly the
easier/cheaper-maintenance factor.

I also concur about the problems with the gas-permeable on windy, cloudy days.
I also have had fitting problems which resulted in lenses popping out (losing
them), unstable vision until my eyes adjusted, and still have edge-effects.  I
also wish that sometimes that I can take a nap without having to remove my

I hope in few years that cure for near-sightedness/asigmatism is found or
someone would come up with a contact lenses that has the good features of both
the hard and the soft lenses.  I believe a hybrid lenses (hard middle/soft
outer) is available now.

Let me know the outcome of your research.

Ken J. Taylor                           Huntington Beach, CA

I wear oxygen permeable lenses (Paraperm).  I've never worn soft lenses due to
an eye condition that precludes them.  I probably would otherwise.

I have lost two, and broken one LEFT lense throughout the period I've worn
contacts.  I'm still wearing the original RIGHT lense. (approx. 9 yrs)

Once the "fit" is determined, the lenses are fully described, similar to
glasses.  Most optical stores actually order the lenses themselves from the
manufacturer, then add a surcharge for their profit.  The people who made my
lenses are actually in my town (Raleigh, N.C.).  I discovered this when I
needed my lenses cleaned once.  I now deal directly with them when I need

Mine (at least RIGHT) have lasted 9 years, with periodic professional cleaning
and repolishing.  Hard lenses (including oxy.perm.) can be repolished if they
become scratched, soft lenses cannot.

VERY true [hard lenses take longer to get used to till they become
comfortable].  My understanding is that your eyelid has to build up a callouse
(ugh) on the underside to accomodate the contact with the lense.

VERY true [hard lenses are much less comfortable on windy, dusty days].  When
pine pollen season hits here, I just take mine out altogether for the two week
period.  Pollen has all KINDS of sharp, hook-shaped things to work on your
eyes.  You definitely KNOW when you get pollen in your eyes.  Dust is not too
bad usually.

This is true [hard lenses can slow down changes in prescription].  Hard lenses
actually physically correct focus problems by reshaping the cornea.  As a
result, you may actually need weaker glasses than you presently have.  (I did.)
The effect does go away after an extended period of non-use.  (Darn.)

Steve Holzworth

Organization: Logicon Technical Services, Inc.

Get soft disposable.

I have had disposable for 18 months now and would never go back.  The non-
disposable ones were terrible when it came to infections and calcium deposits.
Now when these get a little uncomfortable, or I have an infection, zip! into
the trash they go.

And they are the *most* comfortable lenses I have ever worn.  I seriously can
not tell that they are in!

I'd only get them through a licensed (and local) contact lens specialist.  If
you mention mail order in their presence, they should come down in price :).

[All lenses should need fitting]!  You must get fitted for lenses!  One size
does not fit all.  These are your *eyes* remember!

I've been working with computers for longer than I've been wearing lenses.
I've never had a problem [with soft lenses fogging up]..

Any lense [can absorb fumes].  There was always a sign over the doors of
chemistry labs: "If you wear contact lenses in, you will wear chemicals out!".

Haven't had a problem [handling soft lenses].  They are flexible, and easy to
manipulate.  If you pull on them, they tear, but why would you need to do that?

Since 1980 (and wearing soft lenses) my perscription has only changed from
+3.00 to +3.05.

!!!  Wow!  I can't even tell I'm wearing mine [disposable soft lenses].  Are
you sure you don't have a corneal tear or abrasion?


I would recommend disposable soft contacts.  I use them and find them extremely
comfortable.  There is little risk of infection and if there is any problem
with any pair, I can simply toss them out.  I also work on CRTs a lot but I've
never had any problems about my lenses fogging up.

I have been wearing contacts of various varieties for most of my life,
approximately 18 years.  During that time I have worn soft, hard, hard (gas
permeable), and soft (extended wear).  The only ones I can think of that I
haven't tried are the disposable.  Anyway, here are my conclusions:

I don't like soft (of any variety I have tried) because of:

Poor vision correction.  I very poor vision, and with soft lenses the quality
of the correction would fluctuate noticably during the day.  This was
especially noticable as my eyes got tired or dry.

Filming.  As my eyes got tired my contacts would get "filmed" or blurry with
dried tears.  

Durability.  In my experience soft lenses definitely need to be replaced more
often than hard.  The because stiff, permanently dirty, increasingly

I like hard gas permeable (what I wear now) because:

Vision correction is excellent.  I get the best correction consistently
throughout the day.

The lenses stay relatively clean throughout the day.  I enzyme once a week and
use daily cleaner, well, daily and my lenses stay very clean.  Note that the
enzyme is important.

Comfort.  My gas permeable are more comfortable longer than any soft pair I
ever wore.

Durability.  I did once have a gas permeable lense break cleanly in two while
cleaning it.  I don't believe I broke it so much as it simply gave out and
died.  However, that lense was at least 1.5 or 2 years old.  I still use the
other lense bought at the same time and it must be 4 years old by now.
Certainly, either lense lasted longer than what I would get from my soft
lenses, typically a year or so.

Well, that's my opinion,for what its worth!

    Rick Wager

Organization: PBS:Public Broadcasting Service, Alexandria, VA

I've been wearing hard and gas perm lenses for about 16 years and have never
had this happen to me or anyone I know.  Hard and soft lenses require careful

Yes, they [soft lenses] are less expensive, but require more careful handling
to prevent infection and don't last as long.

Be very sure of the fitting for hard lenses.  I had one pair of poorly fitted
lenses that repeatedly scratched my cornea.  The optometrist at Pearle said I
was wearing them too long (I had discomfort after 2 hours, and had been
wearing hard lenses for 4 years before that pair)  I finally went to an
Opthamologist and he checked the lenses and said they were not fitted properly
for my eyes and had unfinished edges.  Pearle gave me my money back for the
lenses but that didn't compensate for the pain and cost to me for the injuries
to my eyes.

My current gas perm lenses have lasted me for 7 years.  Not that I recommend
going this long, but they do last.  My friends with soft lenses have to have
them replaced at 1 to 1.5 years. Not necessarily because their prescription
changed, but because the lenses become cloudy.

I've been wearing them so long, I don't know if it takes longer to get used
to, but I think it depends on the person.  I horsebackride and show, and there
are times when dust is a problem, so I wear sunglasses, which protect from
sun, wind and dust.  But I have worn my lenses baling hay, and that is a VERY
dusty activity, but so long as I wore sunglasses I was fine.

I think you just don't notice the changes as much.  I know my presciption has
changed, but I still see well with my contacts, but can't even watch TV with
my glasses I got at the same time.  Hard lenses do give "crisper" vision than
soft lenses.

I had the choice to get soft lenses last time, but just didn't like the loss
of vision compared to what I had with the gas perms.  Everything is just so
much clearer and crisper with the gas perms.  Though I also have astigmatism,
and that is factored in to how well I will be able to see with soft lenses,
which cannot correct for the astigmatism.


Organization: Informix Software, Inc.

I had the same problem with the disposables [discomfort].  The reason, for me,
was because they only come in one diameter.  That diameter is considerably
larger than I can handle comfortably (guess I have small eyes), so I have to
stick with regular softs.


Organization: Reasoning Systems, Inc., Palo Alto, CA

One difference i found was that toric soft lenses didn't work for me.  

If they work for you, or you don't need them, this is not important.


Organization: IDE, San Francisco

I have been wearing gas permeables for 3 years.  I have never had one break,
or have I ever heard of anyone else having them break.  Before that, I wore
the old-fashioned hard lenses for about 15 years.  The gas perms are a big

I can't wear soft lenses because of a particular eye condition I have, but I
think I would stick with the gas permeables anyway, primarily because they are
so much easier to take care of, and they do last longer.

If you`re interested in using the gas perms again, I would suggest you try
another brand.  Like I said, I`ve never heard of them breaking.  (If your
doctor won't use another brand, maybe you should try another doctor)


Organization: FidoNet node 1:101/338 - Boston Gas BBS, Wellesley MA

    I'm an Optometrist in Boston who's been wearing and fitting CLs for 17
years.  I've worn Hard, GP, and soft.  So I hope some of this info will be of
help.  I consult to College and professional and olympic athletes as well.


ALL CLs soft or rigid need to be fit!  A Dr.'s on eye evaluation is critical
to determine corneal health.

Yes [hard lenses are much less comfortable on windy, dusty days] around Boston
where the wind tunnels thru the skyscrapers; rigid lenses are a disadvantage.
Have refit many to soft CLs to reduce the problems.

Yes they can [soft lenses fog up], but instillation of lens drops can help.
Also some CL materials resist drying better.

Yes they can [soft lenses require more careful handling].

All types of well fit CLs can retard Myopia equally.

Not really [strange that disposibles were less comfortable]; see all eyes try
to coat CLs with muscin because they consider the lens a foreign object.  Soft
CLs when coated don't clean as well as rigid and vision is reduced.  So by
changing CLs more often you maintain better vision.  I didn't like disposables
myself, but I LOVE my new FOCUS [Frequent replacement Lenses] I throw them
away every two months and really think they are the best thing around right
now.  Ask you Dr. about them.
   Also over the long haul with CLs I've found that all costs over the years
equal out, so make a decision based on what is best for you and your eye
health.  COST should not be a governing factor!  What is an eye worth.  At the
Mass Eye & Ear Infirmary's Cornea Clinic; I see all kinds of "economic"
  If you need more Info or a refererral give me a jingle.

  From Boston Arnie Zide

Wed, 24 Aug 1994 00:37:08 GMT
 [ 1 post ] 

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