Some eye conditions make it difficult to wear regular contact lenses. One of those is keratoconus. Fortunately, there are special types of contact lenses that make it possible for people with keratoconus to benefit from wearing contact lenses.
Keratoconus isn’t a particularly common eye condition, but it can cause various problems with your vision and affect the type of vision correction that you use. In keratoconus, the fibers that usually hold the front surface of the eye, known as the cornea, in place, start to weaken. This enables the cornea to bulge outwards in a cone-type fashion. When this happens, it affects the way that light is refracted by the eye. This means instead of being focused on the retina as it passes through the eye, which is essential for clear vision, there are various focal points of light. This causes blurred vision that can only be corrected with prescription eyewear.
As you might expect, the characteristic bulge of keratoconus makes it almost impossible for conventional contact lenses to fit properly to the surface of the eyes. Not only are they uncomfortable, but they are also completely unstable, making them liable to fall out and become dirty/damaged.
The good news is that some contact lenses are suitable for many patients with keratoconus. They are a ‘specialty contact lens’ and are known as scleral lenses.
Scleral lenses have a unique design that makes them ideal for patients with keratoconus.
Instead of contacting the entire surface of the eye, they vault over it, creating a space between the front surface of the eye and the back of the contact lens. This gap is large enough to accommodate a range of different corneal abnormalities, including the bulge that is characteristic of keratoconus.
Scleral lenses are also significantly larger than regular contact lenses. Available in three different sizes, even the smallest sits on the white part of the eye – the sclera – rather than the cornea, giving scleral lenses their name. Their larger size makes them more comfortable, giving the wearer a much better experience when wearing them. It makes them more stable too, and this improves the quality and clarity of the vision that they provide.
Unlike some other types of conventional contact lenses are made from gas-permeable material. This enables much more oxygen to pass through them and reach the surface of the eyes, helping to counteract dryness which can be a common problem for contact lens wearers. Meanwhile, the space between the back of the lens and the surface of the eye helps to trap tear film there in a natural fluid reservoir, further reducing the risk of dry eye and keeping them more hydrated and comfortable.
For more information on scleral lenses and keratoconus, or to schedule an appointment to discuss your vision, please call Miller Vision Center at (405) 389-4200 to reach our office in Norman Oklahoma.