Contact lenses have long been the treatment of choice for patients who have refractive eye conditions that make it difficult or impossible for them to see clearly without professional help. Contact lenses are worn directly on the surface of the eye and change the way in which light passes through it and are interpreted by the brain. However, there is no one-size fits all contact lens solution. Many people are unaware that there are a variety of different types of contact lenses available, some of which are known as Specialty contact lenses.
Specialty contact lenses are uniquely designed lenses that are different from the conventional styles used to correct standard refractive errors. Instead, they are specifically created to support those patients who, for varying reasons, have been told that they are unsuitable for traditional contacts and who may not want to wear glasses.
Here’s what you need to know about the two most popular types of specialty contacts.
Orthokeratology, also known as ortho-k, is a revolutionary new treatment for refractive eye conditions, and is particularly valuable in the treatment and management of myopia (nearsightedness). Orthokeratology contact lenses are custom to each patient, and are designed to be worn overnight. Using tear film and consistent but comfortable pressure, the lenses gradually reshape your corneas while you sleep. The next morning, lenses can be removed, and your cornea will hold the new shape for a number of hours, enabling you to see clearly without using glasses or conventional contact lenses. If you use your orthokeratology lenses every night, you will gradually be able to see clearly for an entire day.
Orthokeratology has been found to be very effective at helping to slow the progression of myopia, which could potentially prevent future problems related to the condition. It can be used by a wide variety of patients, including children as young as 8 years old. One of the biggest benefits of this solution is that you can cease to use the lenses at any time and your vision will return to normal.
Scleral contact lenses also have a unique design. They are much larger than standard contact lenses which are between 9.0mm and 9.5mm in diameter. Scleral lenses vary in size, but typically range between 14.5mm and 24.0mm depending on the type that you choose. This enlarged size means that they remain stable on the eye and cover virtually the entire surface. Another element of their design is that they vault over the cornea, leaving a gap between its surface and the back of the lens. There are several reasons for this. Firstly, the space enables tear film to collect in a fluid reservoir, eliminating symptoms of dry eyes and keeping the eyes feeling healthy and lubricated. Secondly, the space provides enough room for any abnormalities with the shape of the cornea, such as the bulge that occurs in patients with keratoconus.
Again, scleral lenses are custom and made specifically for the individual needs of each patient. Our expert team will be able to advise you if you are a good candidate for scleral contact lenses.
In addition to the contact lenses above, there are also some other types of less common specialty lenses that are available for specific types of patients. Your visual needs will be assessed, and a recommendation will be made as to the most effective treatment based on your requirements.
For more information about specialty contact lenses, or to schedule an appointment to have your visual requirements evaluated by our expert team, please contact our office.