Dr. Mayes enjoys helping patients with irregular corneas and complex prescriptions to achieve quality vision through specialty contact lenses. These devices can improve vision better than glasses and traditional contact lenses for certain corneal conditions including:
- Keratoconus– a corneal condition that causes the cornea to steepen and “cone” outward. This is a progressive condition that now has treatment options available to slow the progression. Early diagnosis is critical. This can be hereditary, so any patients with keratoconus are encouraged to have their children evaluated yearly. Once keratoconus has progressed, specialty contact lenses are often the best choice to achieve quality vision.
- Corneal Scarring from injury or surgery– injuries to the cornea can cause scarring and irregular shape that distorts vision. Certain contact lenses can overcome the distortion and provide clear vision. Other causes of corneal scarring include RK (a method used before LASIK to correct the need for glasses that caused scarring on the cornea). Some patients who previously had RK now need glasses and suffer with fluctuation in their vision throughout the day. Specialty lenses can stabilize the vision and provide clearer vision than glasses.
- High prescriptions– some patients have such a large amount of near-sightedness, far-sightedness, or astigmatism, that glasses or traditional contact lenses do not provide quality vision. Specialty lenses can be used for high prescriptions to achieve the vision desired.
“Specialty” lenses include the following types of lenses:
- Rigid Gas Permeable (RGP)- these used to be called “hard” lenses and were once a common option for contact lens wearers. Now that soft contact lenses can correct most prescription ranges, RGPs are less commonly prescribed. However, certain conditions may require RGPs to provide clearer vision than soft contact lenses can provide. Previous or current RGP wearers may be able to switch to soft contact lenses. However, sometimes RGPs still provide crisper vision for them. RGPs can provide clear vision for high prescription ranges and large amounts of astigmatism. RGPs also come in multi-focal designs that can provide better vision than soft multi-focals for some patients.
- Scleral lenses- these are similar to RGPs in material, however they are the size of a soft lens. These lenses do not touch the cornea, they sit on the conjunctiva (membrane that covers the white part of the eye). This option is ideal for patients with irregular corneas or conditions that cause the cornea to be intolerant of a lens touching the surface. This lens offers better comfort than RGPs and better vision than soft lenses.
- Hybrid (Synergeyes) lenses- these are a “hybrid” of soft and RGP lenses. The center of the lens is an RGP, then there is a soft “skirt” that surrounds the RGP. This provides the comfort of a soft lens and the vision of an RGP. Many patients with irregular corneas do well in this lens design. Hybrids are also available in multi-focal options for those needing crisp vision at all distances even if they have a large amount of astigmatism.
Specialty lenses are more expensive than traditional lenses and the cost varies depending on the prescription and lens design. Some vision insurances provide “medically necessary” contact lens benefits that reduce the cost to the patient. Check your insurance benefits to see if this is an options for you. Dr. Mayes and her staff are willing to assist patients in maximizing the use of their insurances and finding the best options for their unique visual needs.