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What Are Specialty Contact Lenses?

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A woman using her left index finger to pull her eyelid down while she puts a contact lens on her right eye with her right hand

Gone are the days where glasses were the only option for correcting vision problems. Nowadays, there are tons of options in the market – including specialty contact lenses. 

Specialty contact lenses are pretty amazing! Specialty contact lenses are specially designed to address specific eye conditions or preferences. They’re not your ordinary contact lenses. They go beyond regular corrective lenses to cater to specific eye conditions. You know, sometimes our eyes need a little extra TLC, and that’s where these lenses come in.

When your eyes have astigmatism or presbyopia or even funky corneas, regular contacts might not cut it. Booking an eye exam is the first step towards these lenses. It’s always recommended to consult with your eye care professional to determine if specialty contact lenses are the right fit for you.

Types of Specialty Contact Lenses

As the name suggests, these lenses cater to specific needs that regular contacts can’t address. 

There are numerous specialty contact lens choices. Soft and rigid gas permeable contact lenses including orthokeratology, scleral contact lenses, piggyback contacts, and hybrid contact lenses, and prosthetic contact lenses are among them.

The five most common types are scleral lenses, RGP lenses, hybrid lenses, soft prosthetic contact lenses, and corneal molds. Their track record for effectiveness promotes the further integration of all specialized lenses.

Scleral Lenses

These contacts are much larger than regular contacts and are designed to cover a larger area of the eye, including the sclera (white part of the eye). 

Scleral lenses can be used to correct vision problems like astigmatism and other irregular corneal conditions. They also help keep the eyes moisturized, making them ideal for patients with dry eye syndrome.

Hybrid Contact Lenses

Hybrid contact lenses are a combination of hard and soft lenses. These lenses have a hard, gas-permeable center that corrects vision, while the outer rim is made of soft material for maximum comfort. 

Hybrid lenses are ideal for patients with astigmatism or irregular corneas who find it difficult to adjust to traditional gas-permeable lenses.

Soft & Rigid Gas Permeable 

Soft and rigid gas permeable contact lenses are two different types of lenses used for vision correction. 

Soft contact lenses are made from flexible, water-containing materials. They are known for their comfort and ease of use. Soft lenses conform to the shape of your eye, providing a snug fit. 

They are available in various types, including daily disposable, weekly or monthly replacement, and specialized options for conditions like astigmatism or presbyopia.

Rigid gas permeable (RGP) lenses, also known as hard lenses, are made from rigid materials that allow oxygen to pass through. While they may take some time to get used to, they offer certain advantages. 

RGP lenses provide sharper vision, particularly for individuals with astigmatism or higher levels of refractive error. They also tend to be more durable and resistant to deposits compared to soft lenses. 

Orthokeratology 

Orthokeratology (Ortho-K) contact lenses are a special type of lenses that help correct your vision while you sleep. They are designed to reshape the cornea temporarily, providing clear vision throughout the day without the need for glasses or daytime contact lenses.

Piggyback Contacts

Piggyback contact lenses are a soft contact lens worn beneath a rigid gas permeable lens. This approach combines the benefits of both types of lenses and is often used in specific cases. 

By placing a soft lens on the eye first, it acts as a cushion between the eye and the RGP lens, providing enhanced comfort for some people. 

Prosthetic Contact Lenses

Prosthetic contact lenses are custom-made lenses designed to mask the appearance of an eye that is disfigured or to provide treatment for certain eye conditions. 

They can help mask flaws and create a more natural-looking appearance, and may be used to address symptoms such as light sensitivity or double vision by simulating a more natural pupil size and dilation.

Multifocal Contact Lenses

Aside from the above contact lens types, there are also multifocal contacts that cater to patients with both nearsightedness and farsightedness. 

Typically, people with these conditions require bifocal or progressive eyeglasses. But with multifocal contacts, they can have the same convenience and freedom as regular contact lens wearers.

Reasons for Wearing Specialty Contact Lenses

There are many reasons and conditions to wear specialty contact lenses. With specialty contact lenses, you can wave goodbye to blurry vision, squinting at small print, or struggling with irregular corneas. 

Astigmatism

Let’s start with astigmatism. It’s when the cornea isn’t perfectly curved, causing blurry vision. RGP specialty contact lenses are designed to tackle this issue head-on! 

They have different powers in different meridians, accommodating the uneven curvature of the cornea. That means clear vision for folks with astigmatism!

Presbyopia

Now, let’s talk about presbyopia. It’s a natural part of aging, where reading small print becomes a struggle. We’ve all been there, squinting at menus or books. But guess what? Specialty contact lenses have got your back! 

Multifocal lenses allow you to see clearly at different distances, so say goodbye to those reading glasses!

Keratoconus

And then there’s keratoconus, a condition where the cornea becomes thin and bulges into a cone shape. It can cause blurry vision and discomfort around bright lights or outdoors.

Scleral specialty lenses cover a larger portion of the eye, providing superior comfort and improved vision for those with irregular corneas or other corneal conditions.

Close-up of a woman undergoing a slit-lamp exam

Navigating Specialty Lenses

Specialty contact lenses may cost more than regular contacts, but they offer many advantages for individuals with specific eye conditions. 

These lenses are customized to fit your eye shape and deliver superior vision correction. With options like scleral lenses, hybrid lenses, and multifocal contacts, there’s a specialty lens out there for just about anyone. 

However, it’s important to consult with your eyecare professional and get a proper fitting before trying out these lenses. 

So, if you’re thinking about getting contact lenses that address your specific eye needs, specialty contact lenses are definitely worth considering. Don’t hesitate to ask your eye doctor at Fontana Optometric Group about them. Book an appointment to discuss your options today!

Written by Fontana Optometric Group

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