Purpose: To determine the extent of rigid contact lens fitting worldwide and to characterize the associated demographics and fitting patterns.
Methods: Survey forms were sent to contact lens fitters in up to 40 countries between January and March every year for five consecutive years (2007 to 2011). Practitioners were asked to record data relating to the first 10 contact lens fits or refits performed after receiving the survey form. Survey data collected between 1996 and 2011 were also analyzed to assess rigid lens fitting trends in seven nations during this period.
Results: Data were obtained for 12,230 rigid and 100,670 soft lens fits between 2007 and 2011. Overall, rigid lenses represented 10.8% of all contact lens fits, ranging from 0.2% in Lithuania to 37% in Malaysia. Compared with soft lens fits, rigid lens fits can be characterized as follows: older age (rigid, 37.3 ± 15.0 years; soft, 29.8 ± 12.4 years); fewer spherical and toric fits; more bifocal/multifocal fits; less frequent replacement (rigid, 7%; soft, 85%); and less part-time wear (rigid, 4%; soft, 10%). High-Dk (contact lens oxygen permeability) (36%) and mid-Dk (42%) materials are predominantly used for rigid lens fitting. Orthokeratology represents 11.5% of rigid contact lens fits. There has been a steady decline in rigid lens fitting between 1996 and 2011.
Conclusions: Rigid contact lens prescribing is in decline but still represents approximately 10% of all contact lenses fitted worldwide. It is likely that rigid lenses will remain as a viable, albeit increasingly specialized, form of vision correction.