Contact lenses are an alternative to glasses for correcting refractive errors. A contact lens is a clear, thin plastic disc that fits over the front of the eye, also known as the cornea. There are numerous kinds of contact lenses available to fit almost any patient’s needs.
There are three kinds of colored contact lenses: enhancement tints, opaque color tints and light-filtering tints, and all of them have unique purposes.
Enhancement Tints are for lighter colored eyes. They do enhance the color of your eyes to a brighter or darker blue or green. However, as their name suggests, they are designed more to enhance or further define the preexisting color of your eyes, and not to change it entirely. These are especially effective for people with light-colored eyes like gray and blue. In the pictures above, the aquamarine, emerald green and ocean blue are on light colored irises. The other contact lens colors are on dark colored irises.
Opaque Color Tints are contact lenses which are mostly opaque, with the desired eye color printed front of the lens, leaving the middle part of the lens clear and without tint so you can see clearly. These lenses will completely change the appearance of your eyes, and can be obtained in a wide variety of colors and styles, from light eye colors to dark eye colors and even exotic, decorative designs like cat or alien eyes. They can also help with certain conditions such as when a patient is without an iris and desires to cosmetically appear better.
Light-filtering Tints are contact lenses that are designed to reduce or filter out certain colors and wavelengths of light. These are usually made for sports purposes, and can be very useful when the wearer needs to more easily identify objects of a particular color – the yellow of a tennis ball or the white of a golf ball or baseball, for example. Light-filtering contact lenses make the desired color or colors stand out by dimming the other colors of the spectrum. This makes the object easier to see and target.
Like multi-focal eyeglass lenses, multi-focal contacts contain different strengths on the same contact lens, providing the wearer near and distance vision at the same time. While different designs are available, the underlying principle is the same: light from distance and near objects are focused at the same time. You loose some of the visual acuity for distance and near but you gain more depth perception than with monovision fitting.
Care of Contact Lenses
To help maintain the healthiness of your eyes and superior vision, it is important that you carefully follow the instructions of properly caring for your contact lenses.
- Always wash your hands with soap before handling your contact lenses.
- Before inserting your contact lens into your eye, use a contact cleansing solution to cleanse thoroughly.
- Always insert contacts prior to applying any cosmetics.
- After inserting your contacts into your eyes, empty your contact case and rinse thoroughly with warm water, and allow it to air dry.
- Never wear your contacts overnight, as it may lead to an infection in the cornea.
- I prefer the hydrogen peroxide disinfecting systems such as Clear Care since they clean as they disinfect. The one step solutions do not clean effectively and can lead to pink eyes from a reaction to the protein buildup on the contact lenses. I also prefer the cleaning agent called Miraflow for those patients that become sensitive to this protein buildup. If you cannot find miraflow, call my office. We do carry a limited supply just for you.
At Sedgewick Eye Associates, we have a wide selection of contact lenses available to fit the individual needs and desires of each patient, includingkeratoconnus, Corneal Refractive Therapy or CRT and Post Refractive Surgery Patients.
Keratoconnus is a non-inflammatory condition where the regularly shaped corneal surface is distorted or bubbled out due to a thinning of the cornea. Similar to a piece of glass that has a large bubble in the middle of its surface. Keratoconnus patients try to correct their vision using standard glasses and contact lenses first, until they no longer will do the job. Then, they must resort to custom contact lenses in order to see well enough to function. At some point (in some patients), even these devices will not help enough and a corneal transplant is required in order to give useful vision.
Corneal Refractive Therapy :
Corneal Refractive Therapy is a method of fitting gas permeable contact lenses so that near-sightedness is reduced temporarily. The fit and design is an update from an older technique called ortho-keratology, which has been used since the 1970's. CRT uses a new base curve called a reverse geometry that has improved the outcomes significantly from ortho-keratology. The advantage of CRT is that it is a non-surgical, reversible procedure that has been approved for all ages. LASIK is FDA approved for ages 21 and higher only. In CRT, you wear the gas permeable contact lens over-night and then take it off during the day. You need to wear the gas permeable lens most nights or the original near-sightedness will return. CRT is excellent for younger patients who become soft contact lens intolerant but need to correct their eyesight during sports activities.
Post Refractive Surgery: Radial Keratometry (RK)/LASIK:
The normal cornea has its steepest area in the center of the circular cornea. After refractive surgery, the steepest part of the cornea is in the periphery, not the center. Standard Gas Permeable and Soft Contact lenses are designed to fit corneas with the steepest area in the center. Inverse Geometry lenses have their steepest base curve in the periphery in order to match and fit post refractive corneas, hence their name. Keratoconnus corneas still have the steepest part of the cornea somewhat towards the center of the cornea, but advanced cones can have it in the periphery as well.
There are 4 types of contact lenses designed to fit keratoconnus and post refractive surgery patients.
1) Keratoconnus designs, including the Rose and McGuire designs can work well. I prefer the Comfort Cone designs. These lenses vault over the cone of the cornea. They are still standard sized Gas Permeable lenses, however.
2) Inverse Geometry Gas Permeable lenses. So called since they have the steepest part of the base curve (the back side of the lens) in the periphery rather than the center. These lenses are used for patients who have had refractive surgery and standard Soft Contact lenses aren't working for them.
3) Scleral Gas Permeable contact lenses. These lenses are a throw back to the old days of hard PMMA lenses except that we make them out of gas permeable materials so we can avoid the corneal swelling so common in PMMA lenses. These can work for both Keratoconnus and post Refractive Surgery patients. These lenses vault over the entire cornea, from sclera to sclera, replacing the entire refractive surface of the cornea with a new one. I prefer the Digiform Scleral Gas Permeable contact lens.
4) Hybrid Soft/ Gas Permeable combination contact lenses. The hybrid soft/hard gas permeable lenses try to combine the comfort of the soft contact lens with the vision of the gas permeable contact lens. Keratoconnus patients have to have the vaulting of the gas permeable hard contact lens (soft contact lens do not vault at all) over the corneal bubble (or cone, hence the name keratoconnus) in order to re-establish a smooth refracting surface, which is required in order to see correctly. (Again, think of the smooth gas permeable contact lens surface vaulting over that bubble on the surface of a piece of glass, creating a new, smooth refracting surface). There are two brands available of the hybrid soft/hard lenses. The soft-perm by Bausch and Lomb and, my favorite, the Synergeyes lens fromCarlsbad, California. You can visit their web site at www.synergeyes.com to learn more about this lens made specifically for keratoconnus. Here are two videos that introduce the Synergeyes lens and show you a technique for removing them.