Specialty Contact Lenses
Certain eye conditions can make comfortable contact lens wear more challenging. These include astigmatism, presbyopia, dry eye syndrome, giant papillary conjunctivitis (GPC), and keratoconus. Some patients also have “hard-to-fit” eyes as a result of refractive surgery such as LASIK. For such cases, your eye doctor may prescribe one or more types of specialty contact lenses.
Check out the following pages for more information on scleral and corneal reshaping (ortho-k) contacts:
Soft Contact Lenses
Soft lenses are made from hydrogels or silicone hydrogels, pliable materials that conform to the shape of the eye. They allow oxygen to pass through to the cornea and are more comfortable to wear than other contact lens types.
Soft lenses may be prescribed to correct a wide range of vision conditions. In some keratoconus cases, they may be used in conjunction with rigid lenses in a technique called “piggybacking” to maximize comfort.
Rigid Contact Lenses
Also called gas-permeable (GP) lenses, rigid contact lenses provide sharper optics and are more durable than soft lenses. Unlike conventional hard lenses, they allow oxygen to pass through and can therefore be worn closer to the eye.
Some eye doctors prefer GP lenses for mild to moderate cases of keratoconus.
Hybrid Contact Lenses
Hybrid lenses are large-diameter lenses with a GP lens at the center and a silicone hydrogel “skirt” at the periphery. They combine the sharp optics of rigid lenses with the comfort of soft lenses and are often used to correct myopia, hyperopia, and astigmatism in healthy eyes. Specially-shaped hybrid contacts can also be prescribed for people with keratoconus and other corneal irregularities.
Toric Contact Lenses
Astigmatism occurs when the cornea, or the clear covering of the eye, is unevenly curved. Instead of being shaped like a basketball, it is shaped more like a football, which prevents light from properly entering the eye and focusing on the retina.
Years ago, people with astigmatism were told they could not wear contact lenses. Nowadays, they can wear toric lenses, which have a distinctive shape specifically designed to correct high amounts or unusual types of astigmatism. Their shape allows them to provide different refractive powers in different meridians. They are most often made of soft lens material, although GP toric lenses are available as well. Toric lenses are available for daily or extended wear.
Toric lenses may be prescribed for patients who have a lesser degree of astigmatism remaining after LASIK.
Bifocal and Multifocal Contact Lenses
Like bifocal and multifocal eyeglass lenses, these contact lenses provide clear vision at all distances for people who have presbyopia or other types of refractive errors. They come in both soft and GP materials. Because of their complex design, precise fitting can be challenging and time-consuming.
Bifocal lenses have two different prescriptions, or powers, within the same lens: one helps you see clearly far away and the other helps you see clearly up close. This virtually eliminates the need to put on or take off your reading glasses as you look at objects at different distances. Today’s bifocal lenses are technologically advanced with special features to provide a range of clear, crisp vision. Also, there are many different options for you to try as you look for the right fit for your needs.
If you currently wear contact lenses for nearsightedness but are in your 40s or older and have started to notice the effects of presbyopia (the loss of reading vision), you could benefit tremendously from wearing bifocal contact lenses.
Another way to achieve near and distance vision with contact lenses is with the monovision or “blended vision” approach. This involves wearing a contact lens set for clear near vision in one eye and a lens set for clear distance vision in the other eye. The eyes work together to enable you to see clearly at a wide range of distances.
Although monovision is not right for everyone, our doctors can work with you to determine whether it is suitable for your needs.
Another unique type of specialty contact lens is called orthokeratology, or Ortho-K. This type of gas permeable contact lens is used to non-surgically correct refractive errors (nearsightedness and sometimes astigmatism and farsightedness), which are problems with the way the eye refracts or bends light entering the eye.
Ortho-K lenses temporarily reshape the curvature of the cornea to improve how light passes through the eye. Ortho-K lenses are worn while you sleep and removed in the morning. With Ortho-K, you do not need to wear glasses or contacts during the day.
The lenses are a great option for kids and teens who do not want to worry about losing or breaking glasses or contacts during the day at school or while playing sports. Wearing Ortho-K lenses can help to slow down yearly increases in visual prescription, which can be common in kids.
Ortho-K is also very popular among adults that want the visual improvements provided by laser eye surgery, without the risks or expense.
You may see improvements in your visual acuity almost immediately after starting to wear Ortho-K lenses. Or, it may take a few weeks or more to see the benefits of Ortho-K, depending on your refractive error and corneal shape. To maintain the proper corneal curvature, our doctors recommend wearing Ortho-K lenses every night. If they are not worn consistently, the cornea will eventually return to its original curvature.
Request an Appointment
The eye doctors at Aucello EyeCare Center can determine which specialty lens type is appropriate for you and help you achieve the clearest vision possible.
To schedule an appointment with an eye care practitioner with special expertise in contact lens fitting, call (860) 644-4362 to reach our South Windsor office or (860) 667-2020 to reach our Newington office. You can also fill out our online appointment request form today. We accept most major insurance plans.