How Do Specialty Contacts Differ From Traditional Contact Lenses?

How Do Specialty Contacts Differ From Traditional Contact Lenses?

How Do Specialty Contacts Differ From Traditional Contact Lenses?

If you want to switch from glasses to contacts, you may have the preconception that all contact lenses are the same. However, contact lens options are seemingly endless and there is a variety to suit nearly anyone. Traditional contacts are the most common choice among eye care professionals and patients. That said, other options can provide clear, comfortable vision for people with various eye conditions.


Traditional Lenses


Small, rigid lenses, known as gas-permeable lenses, were the first type of contact to gain widespread popularity. They are still available today, but modern ones feature many improvements added to make them more comfortable and healthier. Traditional GP lenses, made of flexible biocompatible plastic, transmit oxygen to the corneal surface. Many are better at oxygen transmission than soft lenses.

Gas-permeable lenses are smaller than soft lenses. They rest directly in the middle of the cornea on the tear film. GP lenses come in many designs. These designs allow them to fix farsightedness, nearsightedness, and high astigmatism. They even feature multifocal designs to address presbyopia. You can wear them for up to one year if you remove them each night and properly maintain them.


Specialty Contact Lenses

These are contacts designed for patients with corneal irregularities or other eye conditions for which traditional contacts are unsuitable. Since regular contacts sit directly on the eye’s surface, they must fit comfortably. Unfortunately, not everyone has perfectly shaped corneas. Standard contact lenses are not ideal for everyone. Some people have eye conditions that make wearing regular contacts difficult or impossible.


Problems Addressed by Specialty Lenses

Specialty contacts encompass a variety of contact lenses to help with different problems. These include:


  • Keratoconus

  • Severe dry eye

  • A high degree of astigmatism

  • Pellucid marginal degeneration

  • Progressive nearsightedness

  • Post-corneal transplant surgery

  • Corneal scars

  • Discomfort with current contact lenses


Types of Contact Lenses

Various specialty lenses can address the abovementioned issues. They can allow those affected to enjoy clear vision without eyeglasses. Some of the most common specialty lenses include:


RGP Contact Lenses

Optometrists sometimes recommend rigid gas-permeable lenses for people who suffer from dry eyes. They help keep the eyes comfortable and moist thanks to the material used to make them. They are not hard lenses, but their rigidity helps the cornea maintain its shape. That helps with some corneal abnormalities.


Scleral Lenses

These lenses have a larger diameter than regular contacts. They vault over the eye’s surface instead of sitting directly on the surface. They leave a gap between the lens and the cornea, providing a practical solution for people with corneal abnormalities such as surgical scarring or keratoconus. The space also acts as a tear film reservoir, keeping it on the eye’s surface longer and improving the symptoms of dry eyes.


Ortho-k Lenses

Ortho-k is an innovative approach to correct vision and prevents myopia progression. Ortho-k lenses are custom-designed contact lenses made from a material that makes them safe for overnight wear. They gently reshape your cornea while you sleep. When you remove them upon waking, you can see clearly without needing daytime eyeglasses or contacts.

Like traditional gas-permeable lenses, specialty contacts can provide vision correction for people who struggle with soft contact lenses. That said, they can be a versatile option for all eyes.


For more about contact lenses, contact Kopolow & Girisgen Doctors of Optometry at our Henderson or Las Vegas, Nevada offices. Call 702-452-2020 or 702-341-7254 to schedule an appointment today.

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