Every patient is different, and so are their eyes! For example, some patients have corneal abnormalities, which means that conventional contact lenses won’t sit comfortably on the surface of their eyes. Other patients suffer from eye conditions that mean normal contact lenses won’t be comfortable or could irritate their eyes. Specialty contact lenses are unconventional contacts designed for patients for whom regular contacts might not be suitable.
Some of the patients that might benefit from specialty contact lenses include those who:
have been diagnosed with dry eye syndrome
have corneal scarring
have been diagnosed with keratoconus, a condition characterized by the bulging of the cornea
suffer from strabismus, a condition where the patient has an eye that turns in or out relative to the other
have suffered an injury to the eye
suffer from a peripheral corneal thinning disorder
cannot tolerate other types of lenses
Your eye doctor or contact lens provider will be able to tell you if you need specialty contact lenses, and if so, which lenses would be best based on your individual requirements.
Also known as RGP lenses, these are made from a special material that allows oxygen to pass through them and reach the surface of the eyes. This design helps to keep the eyes hydrated and comfortable, making these lenses easier to wear, especially for patients who suffer from dry eyes. Dry eyes aren’t just a symptom but a genuine condition characterized by dry, stiff, uncomfortable eyes, blurred vision, and eye fatigue. RGP lenses are more rigid than soft lenses, which helps to keep them stable and secure on the eyes so that patients can enjoy sharper vision. They also help the cornea maintain its shape, which helps to minimize the effects of some corneal abnormalities.
Scleral contact lenses are very different from standard contact lenses: scleral lenses are much larger in diameter, with three different sizes available, depending on your specific needs. This size difference means that the edges of the contact lens fall on the white part of the eye, called the sclera, rather than on the cornea. Scleral lenses are also different in that they sit above the surface of the cornea rather than touching it, leaving a space between the front surface of the eye and the back of the contact lens. This design makes scleral lenses a good choice for patients with dry eyes and corneal abnormalities. The space between the eye and the lens can trap tear film, which keeps the eyes hydrated. And the raised design accommodates many corneal abnormalities, such as the bulge associated with keratoconus.
Limbal contact lenses are specialty lenses that fall between rigid gas permeable lenses and scleral varieties in size. Their larger overall diameter helps to increase their stability on the surface of your eyes. They also offer minimal interference with the eyelids, which helps to ensure the comfort of your eyes and the clarity of your vision.
Hybrid contact lenses combine soft and gas permeable contact lenses, allowing patients to enjoy the best parts of both designs. The middle part of hybrid lenses is made from gas permeable material that lets oxygen pass through to the eyes. However, the gas permeable part of the lens is more rigid, and this firmer center gives the lens greater stability and offers the patient enhanced clarity of vision. The rigid gas permeable portion of the lens also helps to trap tear film between the cornea and the lens so that the eye remains hydrated. The outer edge of hybrid lenses is a soft lens skirt. This arrangement means that patients don’t have to deal with the hard edges associated with RGP lenses, which some find uncomfortable. Instead, patients experience a comfort level more like wearing fully soft lenses.
Don’t hesitate to speak to our dedicated eye care team for more information about specialty contact lenses.