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Specialty Contact Lenses

original specialty contactsContact lenses are medical devices prescribed to correct refractive error such as nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. Typically, contact lenses are elective in nature, meaning they provide an alternative form of vision correction to glasses.

Many patients can successfully wear mass-produced, “off the rack” stock lenses which are fit using diagnostic lenses and often only involve one or two office visits. Other patients struggle with these stock lenses due to more complex prescriptions or higher demands on vision. Fortunately, advances in contact lens technology have allowed for a higher degree of customization to meet individual patient needs.

Finally, patients with irregular corneas or moderate to severe ocular surface disease may require contact lenses for optimal vision. Below is a list of ocular conditions that can potentially benefit from specialty contact lenses.

  • Keratoconus
  • Pellucid marginal degeneration
  • Post-refractive surgery (LASIK, PRK, RK) ectasia
  • Post-corneal transplantation
  • Significant corneal scarring
  • Irregular astigmatism
  • Aphakia
  • Advanced ocular surface disease (Sjogren’s, GVHD, etc.)
  • Disfigured eyes

At Gaddie Eye Centers, Dr. Robert Ensley and Dr. Anthony Swanholm provide these advanced contact lens services to patients at various locations. After graduating from optometry school, Dr. Rob Ensley completed a residency in Cornea and Contact Lenses at the University of Missouri-St. Louis where he trained in specialty contact lenses. He currently specializes in fitting difficult-to-fit patients, including those with keratoconus or irregular corneas, corneal transplants, post-RK or LASIK patients, and patients suffering from severe dry eye or ocular surface disease. Dr. Anthony Swanholm completed a Cornea and Contact Lens Residency at the Michigan College of Optometry in Big Rapids, MI. He is trained in specialty lenses including scleral lenses, myopia control/orthokeratology lenses, and multifocal contact lenses.

Gas Permeable Lenses

Although less popular than their soft lens counterparts, Gas Permeable (GP) lenses have several benefits that make them an excellent option for vision correction. GP lenses are manufactured with firm, yet highly breathable, plastic polymers. Because they are less flexible, the smooth refracting surface provides superior optics than soft lenses. The lenses also do not contain water, which allows a greater amount of oxygen to pass through the lens making them an extremely healthy option. If cared for properly, GP lenses can last for more than one year.

GP lenses are the preferred choice of contact lenses for patients with greater amounts of astigmatism, high demands on vision, or require correction for both distance and near (multifocals).

For more information on Gas Permeable lenses, click here.

Hybrid Lenses

Hybrid lenses have a GP lens center and an outer skirt made of soft contact lens materials. They provide the crisp vision of a GP lens with the comfort level similar to a soft lens. Hybrid lenses can be fit on both irregular and normal corneas. They are also available as multifocals.

Scleral Lenses

Scleral lenses are large diameter GP lenses that can benefit a multitude of patients. Scleral lenses can correct a high degree of corneal irregularity by completely vaulting the cornea and providing a smooth refracting surface. The lens aligns to the sclera (white part of the eye) reducing eyelid interaction during the blink process, thus aiding in lens centration and comfort.

Scleral lenses are filled with a non-preserved saline solution, bathing the cornea while the lenses are on the eye. This can provide a therapeutic effect by eliminating mechanical pressure on sensitive or diseased corneas.

For more information on Scleral lenses, click here.

Orthokeratology Lenses

Orthokeratology, also known as corneal reshaping, is the process of temporarily reshaping the cornea utilizing a specially designed gas permeable contact lens. The contact lens is designed to be worn daily while sleeping. The benefits of this type of lens are twofold. First, reshaping the cornea overnight temporarily corrects nearsightedness, allowing for clear vision throughout the day without the use of glasses or contact lenses. Secondly, studies have proven these lenses can reduce the progression of nearsightedness by up to 50%. This is achieved by manipulating the optics of how light rays enter the eye, reducing the stimulus for elongation of the eye.

The contact lenses used by Gaddie Eye Centers are FDA approved for overnight wear and can correct up to -6.00 diopters of nearsightedness and mild astigmatism.

For more information on Orthokeratology lenses, click here.

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