If you have refractive eye errors that mean that you need to use prescription corrective eyewear to see clearly, and you suffer from a condition called keratoconus, you could be forgiven for thinking that you don’t have very many options available to you. In the past, patients who had keratoconus would only be considered suitable for glasses due to the nature of their condition. While glasses are extremely popular and effective, they also require patients to make some compromises – both in their appearance and in some cases, in the activities that they participate in. This is because it is impossible or impractical to wear glasses in some situations, such as when swimming, boxing and in cases where protective eyewear should be worn. Fortunately, the design of contact lenses has evolved and now there are varieties that enable people with keratoconus and other eye irregularities to benefit from using them.
Here’s what you need to know about keratoconus and how scleral contacts can help.
Keratoconus is a non-inflammatory eye condition in which the normally round, dome-shaped clear lens covering the eye, known as the cornea, becomes progressively thinner, causing a cone-shaped bulge to develop.
The cornea plays an essential role in our vision. It refracts the light that enters our eye so that it is focused onto the retina – part of the back of the eye that converts light into signals that are sent to the brain via the optic nerve, determining what we can see.
The exact cause of keratoconus isn’t always known, but genetics and environmental factors are perceived to play a role in its development. When you suffer from keratoconus, the light refracts incorrectly, causing your vision to appear blurred. It is rarely detected in its earliest stages, but the good news is that it is possible to correct vision even in patients with advanced keratoconus.
The reason that conventional contacts don’t fit comfortably on patients with keratoconus is that regular contacts sit only over the cornea and make contact with the entire surface. The shape of conventional lenses doesn’t allow for the bulge that develops with keratoconus and this means that they neither sit perfectly flat or are comfortable and effective.
Scleral contact lenses rest on the edge of the white part of the eye – called the sclera – and vault over the cornea itself, leaving space beneath them. It is this element of their design that makes them a valuable option for patients who have corneal irregularities, including keratoconus. This is because there is ample space for the shape of the bulge that has developed since the vaulted shape means that there is no contact with the cornea at all.
There are numerous different sizes of scleral lenses available, making it simple to find one that meets your needs. Our expert eye care team will be happy to advise you which is most suitable for you.
There are a number of benefits that scleral lenses can offer patients. These include the following:
Clear vision. By far the biggest benefit scleral lenses can offer is clear vision. Keratoconus can cause significant vision loss, but with scleral lenses, you can expect to see clearly again.
Improved comfort. Their unique design means that scleral lenses are supremely comfortable for people with keratoconus to wear. Their large diameter keeps them centered and stable on your eyes and prevents them from popping out easily. The space beneath them also acts as a fluid reservoir, preventing your eyes from drying out and becoming uncomfortable.
Wide visual field. The extra-wide optic zones of scleral lenses give patients the benefit of wider, more precise peripheral vision. They also reduce sensitivity to glare and light.
Long-lasting lenses. Although the cost of custom scleral lenses is more expensive than conventional contacts, they are constructed from high quality, super-durable materials that make them able to last significantly longer. This means that you will be making a great investment in your vision.
If you would like more information about the benefits of scleral lenses for patients with keratoconus, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our expert eye care team today.