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7 Reasons Why You Might Need Specialty Contact Lenses

Specialty contact lenses on finger in front of woman’s eye

Contact lenses help millions of Americans see clearly in everyday life. It’s obvious that many have switched from glasses to contacts for the convenience and comfort. But what if you have a condition that prevents you from wearing off-the-shelf contact lenses?

If you have astigmatism or other disorders that affect your eyes, you’ll be glad to know that specialty contact lenses are a viable alternative. Not only can you wear them with little or no problems, but in some cases, they can also help treat your disorders as well.

Specialty contact lenses cannot be bought right off the shelf. They’re custom fitted to your eyes to ensure the best vision and comfort possible.

If you struggle with standard contacts and have a corneal irregularity, let’s find out if specialty contacts are for you.

1. You Have Keratoconus

Diagram of eye with bulging cornea due to keratoconus

If you have the progressive eye disease keratoconus, your corneas will thin and eventually bulge. Over time, the bulging turns the corneas into cone shapes which regular contacts may not accommodate very well.

Mild keratoconus can be treated with either eyeglasses or regular soft contact lenses. More advanced cases, however, require custom-fit contacts, such as scleral lenses.

With specialty contact lenses, you will be able to comfortably wear contacts and have crisper vision, but that’s not all. You can also benefit from reparation of the corneal surface.

2. You Have Astigmatism

When the front surface of the eye becomes irregularly shaped, this is called astigmatism. To correct it, you’ll want to try toric lenses.

Traditional spherical lenses have the same power in all meridians. But, toric lenses have different powers in different meridians.

This means that spherical lenses rotate when you blink, while toric lenses stay in one position. This type of lens is usually weighted at the bottom so it will only move vertically when you blink.

Because every eye with astigmatism is different, it may take you a few tries before you find the perfect brand for acuity and comfort. Fitting these lenses takes an expertise beyond the standard lens exam and fitting. For this reason, appointments for toric lenses can cost more than the average lens fitting.

3. You Suffer From Dry Eyes

Having dry eyes can make wearing contacts uncomfortable or downright impossible. Many practitioners recommend gas permeable lenses for patients with dry eyes. They allow for better oxygen flow and also let your tears circulate under the lenses, which prevents your eyes from drying out.

If your eyes get extremely dry, another option is scleral contacts. Because these are custom-fitted, scleral contacts do cost a bit more than regular lenses. However, due to their design, scleral contact lenses have great fluid retention, providing relief for your dry eyes.

For minimal or moderate eye dryness, contact lenses with special technology may be enough to make wearing contact lenses comfortable. For example, 1-Day Acuvue Moist delivers long lasting moisture through LACREON hydration technology.

4. You Get Giant Papillary Conjunctivitis (GPC)

GPC is an infection caused by the proteins in your tears. Your eyes have an inflammatory reaction that causes your lid glands to secrete a mucus that creates a filmy coating on your contact lenses. This film makes the contacts uncomfortable since it makes them stick to your eyes and move around more than usual.

In this case, the best contacts to use is daily soft lenses. Because you use them for less than 24 hours, the contacts don't have enough time to create a buildup of protein.

The second option is to use gas permeable lenses. The hard material makes it more difficult for the filmy substance to adhere to it. Soft contacts will retain a certain amount of the unwanted film even after a thorough cleaning.

5. You Have Issues After Refractive Surgery

eye doctor with mask on using surgical equipment

Sometimes, LASIK surgery does not completely fix all of your vision problems. When this happens, you will want to wear contact lenses for that final sharpening of vision.

Astigmatism

If you have an extreme case of astigmatism, LASIK may not get rid of it 100%. In this case, you can wear corrective lenses to correct minor astigmatism.

Monovision

You may need to wear one contact if you choose to get monovision correction. This procedure treats one eye for distance and makes the other nearsighted, which reduces your need for reading glasses.

When you do something requiring distance sight, it can help to wear a contact in the nearsighted eye. This will let you see things like sporting events or drive at night.

Higher-Order Aberrations

This type of cornea distortion is more complicated than being near or farsighted. The distortion occurs when wavefront light passes through your eye. It can happen from scarring of the cornea after LASIK, or from other trauma or disease, such as cataracts.

Because most contacts and glasses cannot fix this problem, gas permeable and hybrid contact lenses are your best choices.

Excessive Glare

Many people experience excessive glare and halos after LASIK surgery. If you’re one of these people, try gas permeable or hybrid lenses. Both of these will focus the light sharply on the retina and reduce glare.

6. You’ve Developed Presbyopia

older woman with glasses reading newspaper

With age, we lose the ability to focus on objects near to us. It is usually a condition that becomes noticeable after age 40 and requires reading glasses to fix. However, you do have other options, such as specialty contact lenses.

Bifocal and Monofocal Lenses

If you have presbyopia, you should try a bifocal or monofocal lens. They allow for correction of vision both near and far.

Monovision Lenses

With mono lenses, you wear one prescription in one eye, and another in the other. Your brain then learns to favor each eye for a particular type of sight.

For example, your left eye will get used more heavily for distance sight, while your right eye will do the bulk of the work for near sight.

7. You Have Unusually Small or Large Eyes

closeup of woman’s light brown eye with big pupil

When you have unusually small or large eyes, it can be hard to fit regular contact lenses into them. Here are some alternatives you can look at when considering contacts.

Large Pupil Contacts

Custom toric lenses work best for large pupils. These lenses provide a wider peripheral zone and near center correction. This way, the correction covers the entire width of the pupil. Standard off-the-shelf contacts are not this wide.

Small Eye Contacts

Are your eyes small and do you have trouble with normal contacts? Try rigid gas permeable lenses. These lenses are smaller, which means you’ll have an easier time putting them in.

Give Specialty Contact Lenses a Try

If your eyes have an irregular shape and you’ve struggled with standard contacts, stop struggling. Specialty contact lenses may be an excellent alternative for you.

With the benefit of both visual acuity and treatment for certain eye disorders, specialty contacts can raise your quality of life. Give your eye doctor a call to schedule an appointment if you want to discuss getting specialty contact lenses.

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