Many people think that all contact lenses are created equal, but this isn’t the case. There are many varieties of contact lenses to suit most eye problems and patients. Some patients have issues with their cornea that make conventional soft contact lenses unsuitable, but this doesn’t mean that they can’t wear contact lenses at all. There are some contacts designed specifically to suit patients who have corneal abnormalities that make wearing ordinary contacts impossible. These are called specialist contact lenses.
There are several different types of specialty contact lenses. We are delighted to offer three of the most common – rigid, gas permeable lenses, scleral lenses, and hybrid lenses. Here’s what you need to know about each.
Rigid gas permeable lenses, also known as RGP lenses, are made from a special material that enables oxygen to pass through them. This means that when you are wearing them, oxygen can still reach the surface of the eyes, which helps to keep them comfortable and can help to counteract dryness caused by dry eye syndrome. RGP lenses are slightly larger than traditional contact lenses, which increases how stable they are and provides outstanding visual clarity and precision.
However, as their name suggests, these lenses are much more rigid than conventional contacts. This makes them easier to handle, more effective at retaining their shape, and harder to damage, but some people take time to get used to how they feel on the eyes as they can seem a little uncomfortable at first. Nevertheless, the majority of wearers do adjust within a few weeks.
Scleral contact lenses take their name from the fact that the edge of the lenses rests on the sclera, which is the white part of the eye. This makes them different from conventional contact lenses which only cover the iris and rest on the part of the eye where the iris meets the sclera.
Scleral contact lenses come in several different sizes, starting at just 14.5mm in diameter (which is still bigger than traditional contact lenses) and extending up to 24mm. This added size makes them more stable on the surface of the eyes and increases the clarity of the wearer’s vision. Unlike other contacts, they are also shaped so that they vault over the surface of the cornea, leaving a space between the back of the lens and the front part of the eye. This space can accommodate corneal abnormalities, such as the bulging that is characteristic of keratoconus. It also acts as a fluid reservoir, trapping tear film and keeping the eyes hydrated and healthy.
Hybrid contact lenses are often considered to be the ‘best of both worlds’ where contact lenses are concerned. This is because they offer the exceptional visual performance of RGP lenses, with the comfort of standard soft contacts. They have a rigid center area, which is larger than regular contact lenses and remains strong and stable on the eye, ensuring enhanced visual clarity. However, the outer edges of the contact lenses are a soft skirt that makes them more comfortable to wear. This makes them ideal for patients who require the stability and visual quality that accompanies RGP lenses, but who can’t get used to the way that rigid lenses feel on their eyes. They are also a great option for multifocal patients who want better vision than soft contact lenses can provide.
For more information about specialty contact lenses, please visit Vision One Eyecare Center in Fort Mitchell or Dry Ridge, Kentucky. Call (859) 267-1700 or (859) 407-7400 today.