Specialty Contact Lenses: What you need to know?

Contact lens technology has changed rapidly over the past 40 years. There are so many different kinds of lenses and ways to wear contacts that each patient can choose a unique contact lens solution for their vision problems. There are three main types of contact lenses, and each subset has many different variables:

  • Soft Contact Lenses: by far the most popular. They are comfortable, easy to use, come in a variety of materials and give good vision.
    • Daily wear (one day throw away)
    • Multifocal
    • Color enhancing
    • Extended wear (up to 30 days!)
    • Lenses for astigmatism
  • Rigid Gas permeable lenses: Excellent vision, lots of variables, harder to get used to, custom made
    • Gas permeable sphere
    • Scleral Lenses (for dry eye or irregular Corneas)
    • Keratoconus lenses
    • Ortho K lenses (to change your Rx overnight)
    • Lenses for astigmatism or irregular corneas
    • Multifocal lenses
  • Hybrid lenses: comfort like a soft lens with the clarity of vision from a rigid lens
    • Spherical
    • Multifocal
    • For irregular corneas: keratoconus, post refractive surgery, pellucid marginal degeneration, etc.

When a patient is dissatisfied with their soft lenses, I believe in giving them other options. My “go to” option is usually a Hybrid lens. The Duette lens gives the vision of a rigid lens with the comfort of a soft lens. A patient that goes into a Duette lens usually says “Dr. Allen, I just want to see better than I do with soft lenses.” These patients are choosing clarity of vision and giving up a little of the comfort of soft lenses.

Duette lenses by Synergeyes are silicone soft lenses with a rigid center :

Duette Lens Insertion

They are available in single vision or bifocal form, and offer excellent vision and good comfort. One patient who changed from daily lenses came in to order her new pair. When I asked if she missed her one day lenses, she emphatically said NO! The vision and comfort are just that good with Duette lenses. Duettes are a little different: you keep each pair for 6 months, take them out every night, clean with a daily cleaner, and use a weekly enzyme cleaner. After 6 months, you replace the pair. Maintenance, wearing schedule and replacement are all different with Duette lenses. Everyone is a candidate for Duette, with the exception of those with very dry eyes. Comfort will always be an issue with dryness, and it is more so with the Duette lenses. Insertion and removal are also different than with a soft or small rigid gas permeable lens:

Duette Lens Tilted

Keratoconus and irregular corneas: what are the options?

In the old days before new materials came out, the only way a patient with an irregular cornea could see was with a small gas permeable contact lens. These lenses sit on a very sensitive part of the cornea, and so are hard to get used to, but the vision through their optics is superb. Now, with new materials, larger lenses are in vogue. Many optometrists use scleral sized lenses to treat keratoconus. These large diameter lenses (they sit on the white part of the eye like a soft lens) provide excellent vision but tend to be bulky and hard to use. I usually turn to Ultrahealth lenses from Synergeyes first for irregular corneal treatment. The design of the lens provides a soft outer skirt, which makes the lenses more comfortable and easier to use. The “vault” of the rigid part of the lens leaves lots of room for a steep and irregular eye (as in keratoconus) and the aspheric optics provide great vision, even for post RK and LASIK eyes.

Most vision insurance plans cover medically necessary contact lenses for those with irregular corneas. The fitting and evaluation process does take longer than a soft, regular contact lens evaluation, and you may have to come back 3-4 times before we find the lens that is right for you. That time is well worth it once your vision comes in as clear and comfortable.

If you are looking for a new way to wear contacts that gives the best vision with the best possible comfort, look for duette lenses. If you have keratoconus and are worried about scarring and corneal transplants with rigid lenses, come in for a consultation about Ultrahealth lenses and how they can improve your vision and keep you away from corneal surgery. Overall, Duette and Ultrahealth lenses offer a new and great solution to vision problems.

Contact our office in Addison, TX, to schedule an appointment with Dr Allen, our Therapeutic Optometrist.