Patient preferences and ocular responses were compared between rigid and soft contact lenses by randomly fitting 32 neophyte subjects with a rigid lens in 1 eye and a soft lens in the contralateral eye. Twenty-seven of 32 subjects completed the 3-month study and 16 subjects were willing to continue for an additional 3-month extension. Subjects preferred the comfort and handling of the soft lens but preferred the vision provided by the rigid lens and initially its ease of maintenance. There was also a marked preference for the soft lens when all aspects of lens wear were compared. Objectively, the rigid lenses were responsible for more ocular changes than the soft lenses. Palpebral aperture sizes of the rigid gas permeable (RGP) wearing eyes decreased significantly (0.5 mm; p < 0.05) compared to the soft lens wearing eyes. The incidence of corneal staining was significantly greater in the rigid lens wearing eye (50% RGP vs. 22% soft) but limbal injection was greater in the soft lens wearing eye (18% soft vs. 6% RGP). Refractive sphere, cylinder, and corneal astigmatism decreased in the rigid lens wearing eye after 3 months. This daily wear clinical trial has shown a marked subjective preference for wearing soft lenses with fewer short-term ocular effects
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