Not all contact lenses are the same. While most people are familiar with the conventional design, which makes contact with the entire front surface of the eye and is fairly small in diameter, this style isn’t necessarily suitable for all patients. In fact, there are some patients who cannot wear this type of contact lens whatsoever. Fortunately, this doesn’t exclude them from experiencing the benefits associated with wearing contact lenses. Specialty contact lenses are recommended for patients in which standard style contacts are not a fit.
There are various different types of people who could benefit from wearing speciality contact lenses. These include patients with the following conditions:
Astigmatism: a condition characterized by an eye that is shaped more like a football than a soccer ball, causing refractive eye errors and an abnormal corneal curve.
Presbyopia: a condition that occurs with aging where the natural lens of the eye becomes drier and less flexible than before, requiring the patient to wear prescription lenses.
Dry eyes: this occurs when the patient’s eyes do not make enough tear film, there isn’t enough oil in the tear film, or the tear film drains too quickly, making the eyes too dry to wear regular contact lenses.
Keratoconus: patients with keratoconus experience progressive thinning of the cornea which causes it to bulge outwards, making it impossible for regular contact lenses to fit properly.
Corneal injuries: the surface of the eye can become scratched or injured, making it painful or difficult to wear regular contact lenses.
Your eye doctor will be able to tell you if you have a condition which means that you could require specialty rather than ordinary contact lenses.
There are a number of different types of specialty contact lenses, but there are two that are particularly popular solutions for patients who cannot wear regular contacts. These are known are scleral lenses and rigid gas permeable lenses.
Rigid gas permeable lenses, or RGP lenses as they are sometimes called, are made from a special, durable plastic that allows oxygen to pass through them to the surface of the eyes, helping to keep them healthy and comfortable. They shouldn’t be confused with the old, ‘hard’ lenses, but are firmer than conventional contacts which enables them to retain their shape and apply greater control over the shape of the cornea. There are several benefits to RGP lenses that make them a great choice for patients who are unable to wear regular contacts. These include:
The additional oxygen that reaches the eyes prevents them from drying out quickly, making them a good choice for patients with dry eyes.
Their rigidity helps to control irregular-shaped corneas and provide a clearer, more concise vision.
They are easy and comfortable to wear and can be used for myopia control (orthokeratology) as well as helping patients to see clearly.
Scleral lenses are a unique design of contact lenses. Made from gas permeable material that enables oxygen to pass through them and keep the surface of the eye healthy, these lenses are much larger in diameter than regular contacts and do not make contact with the entire front of the eye. Instead, they are designed to vault over the entire corneal surface and rest on the sclera, which is the white part of the eye. There are several advantages to their design:
Their large diameter keeps them steady and stable on the surface of the eye, which helps to improve the clarity and accuracy of the patient’s vision.
Their larger size makes them easier to handle, making it simpler to put them in the eyes and remove them again.
The space between the back of the contact lens and the surface of the eye is large enough to accommodate any corneal abnormalities and acts as a fluid reservoir, continuously bathing the cornea in the tear film. This makes them a great option for patients who suffer from dry eye.
There are several different size lenses and which you will be recommended to use will depend on your individual requirements. Your eye doctor will be able to tell you more.
For more information about specialty contact lenses, please contact our experienced and knowledgeable eye care team in San Bernardino, CA.