Keratoconus is an eye condition that creates a distorted and blurry vision that is not able to be corrected well with glasses. Instead, the best option for those with keratoconus is to use contact lenses to correct the vision.
There are a few different special types of contact lenses that are used in keratoconus including rigid gas permeable lenses (RGPs), hybrid contact lenses, and scleral contact lenses. Determining the best option of contact lenses for someone with keratoconus is a process that requires an eye doctor to evaluate the progression of the disease, and the amount of distortion in the vision, and discuss lifestyle options with the patient.
What is Keratoconus?
Keratoconus is a progressive thinning and steepening of the front of the eye known as the cornea.
When this occurs, it will create abnormal and distorted vision by inducing irregular astigmatism in the eyes.
Usually, keratoconus begins in the teenage years and will progress for several years before becoming stable.
Most of the time, early keratoconus will only have mild symptoms of blur, distortion, and halos around lights but the more severe the condition, the more pronounced the symptoms become.
Why Do Glasses Not Work Well for Keratoconus?
For most causes of blurry vision, glasses are one of the main treatment options, but glasses do not usually provide adequate correction in keratoconus.
The changes to the cornea create an abnormally shaped front surface of the eye that does not have regular optical properties.
Because the astigmatism is irregular, it cannot be corrected with a pair of glasses and will be much better suited for contact lenses.
Contact Lenses for Keratoconus
To provide the best vision correction for keratoconus, contact lenses are used to account for irregular astigmatism and an abnormal front surface of the eye.
The goal of using specialty contact lenses is to create a smooth, round front surface of the eye by covering the cornea with a contact lens.
When the irregularities of the cornea are negated, the vision can be corrected too much better and more functional levels of vision.
Dr. Woo's Thoughts: What is a prosthetic contact lens and who needs it?
A prosthetic contact lens can either be a soft lens, hard lens, or scleral shell.
If a patient still has a fully formed eyeball, but they suffered a corneal or iris injury, they might be able to wear a soft prosthetic lens which is hand painted like you see here.
If a patient has suffered a massive injury to the eye and is missing part of their eye, or missing the entire eyeball, then a hard lens or a scleral shell may be more beneficial.
The main point of prosthetic contact lenses is for cosmetic purposes. The contact lens help your eyes appear more normal looking and more similar to the good eye.
We have patients that need prosthetic lenses from eye injuries, eye diseases, corneal dystrophy, iris anomalies, corneal scarring, lazy eye, phtisis bulbi, and much more.
Gas Permeable Contact Lenses for Keratoconus
One of the earliest options for those with keratoconus was to wear a rigid gas-permeable contact lens.
This is a small, hard contact lens that is designed to sit on the center of the cornea and allow tears between the contact and the cornea.
These are a great option for early keratoconus that is not significantly progressed to have a highly irregular cornea.
Hybrid Contact Lenses for Keratoconus
Hybrid contact lenses have qualities similar to gas-permeable contact lenses but also similar to a more traditional soft contact lens.
These lenses have a hard contact center portion surrounded by a soft “skirt” that is much more comfortable and easier to adapt to wearing.
These lenses are excellent at correcting small to moderate changes from keratoconus and provide a comfortable option that is easy to adjust to from soft contact lenses.
Scleral Contact Lenses for Keratoconus
The newest option for contact lenses for keratoconus is scleral contact lenses. These are large contact lenses that are designed to vault the entire cornea and rest on the white of the eye.
Scleral contact lenses are the best option for most keratoconus patients who are unsuccessful in any other type of contact lens.
These lenses can be customized and ordered specifically for the eye to account for any irregularities in the cornea.
Our eye doctors at Contact Lens Institute of Nevada excel in the treatment and management of scleral lenses, myopia management, orthokeratology (ortho-K) and other custom contact lens solutions
Call our optometrists at 702-747-4070 or schedule an appointment online if you would like to learn more about keratoconus.
Our eye doctors, Dr. Stephanie Woo and Dr. Jenny Wong provide the highest quality specialty contact lens services in the Las Vegas area.