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Specialty Contact Lenses 

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An emerging trend in the eye world has been the expanding use of specialty contact lenses to treat a myriad of ocular conditions. These conditions range from corneal diseases like Keratoconus, Pellucid Marginal Degeneration, and post-corneal transplant eyes, down to more common conditions like dry eye and high astigmatism. These lenses are different from the standard lens that you think of when you hear the word contacts. Instead of being a thin, flimsy piece of silicon hydrogel, these specialty lenses are usually larger, stiffer lenses that vault over the front surface of the eye instead of sitting directly on the cornea.

These specialty lenses, known as scleral lenses and hybrid lenses, offer the benefit of vaulting over the cornea to create a new surface for light to refract off of. This is essential in the treatment of corneal diseases like Keratoconus. In Keratoconus, the cornea protrudes out, like a cone. Without these lenses, light hits off the cornea and scatters in many directions, causing blur, light sensitivity, and decreased vision. Scleral lenses are used to vault over the cone portion and utilize the tear film of the eye to create a new, smooth surface for light to refract over. Think of it like a tear film sandwich; you have the lens and the cornea on the two outsides, and you are able to use the tear film in the center to mask the problem the cornea creates! These lenses can be life-changing to people with corneal diseases, as they can improve vision drastically in many cases. 

Specialty lenses are also often utilized in the treatment of dry eye disease. Everyone with dry eyes knows how frustrating it can be to manage chronic dryness, irritation, and foreign body sensation. Instilling drops two, three, or four times a day, combined with warm compresses and lid scrubs to sometimes just keep the dryness at bay for a few minutes can be exhausting for a patient. Scleral lenses help fill the void in treatment here. The scleral lenses are filled with an isotonic solution that mimics the actual tear film and bathes the eye throughout the day, decreasing the need and frequency of drop instillation. The added bonus is the lenses also correct your prescription! Scleral lenses possess this unique ability to improve dryness, correct your vision, and decrease the demand for frequent eye drops. Patients with chronic, recalcitrant dry eye would benefit from a consultation to see if scleral lenses are a good option for their treatment! 

Special contact lenses like scleral lenses and hybrid lenses are a great option for any patient seeking improved visual function and more independence from a regimented drop therapy. The lenses should not be used only for the rare, difficult to treat eye disease. These lenses can and should help the general population manage their vision and their dryness!

With 3 convenient locations in New Hampshire, we are happy to see you in Littleton, Lincoln and Woodsville. Click here to book your next appointment with our team.

Written by Dr. Winnie Tseng

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