HOW CAN CONTACT LENSES HELP THOSE WITH CORNEAL TRANSPLANTS?
Corneal transplantation is a surgical procedure that replaces a patient's cornea with a donor cornea. This occurs when the patient has the inability to see through the cornea (the clear front surface of the eye), whether from scarring, disfigurement, or severe surface disease.
A cornea transplant can be life changing for a patient to restore sight. The procedure includes removing a portion of the patient's cornea and replacing with a donor cornea and using sutures (stitches) to secure in place. After the healing process, the sutures are removed slowly.
The cornea transplant introduces new irregularities to the surface of the eye. Because of this, when a light ray hits the eye (to see an image), it does not reach the retina in a straight line. Visual symptoms with a corneal transplant may include blurry vision, double vision, or light sensitivity.
Having a new glasses prescription can help with vision after a transplant, but sometimes the irregularities still prevent the eye from seeing as well as it could.
Our office works closely with your corneal surgeon to ensure that the transplant continues to be healthy while wearing a contact lens after surgery.
Research studies have given us specific parameters that we use when designing a lens for you to maintain the healthiest eye possible.
WHAT CONTACT LENS OPTIONS ARE THERE FOR CORNEAL TRANSPLANTS?
1.) Scleral Lenses
Scleral lenses are large gas-permeable (rigid) lenses that are able to vault over even the most irregular corneas. These lenses are filled with a sterile saline solution each morning before insertion and the saline stays on your eyes all day. The lenses rest on the white portion of the eye (the sclera) instead of on the cornea, so the lenses are very comfortable and providing all-day moisture for those with dry eyes.
2.) Rigid Gas Permeable Lenses (RGP)
Rigid gas permeable lenses are smaller gas-permeable lenses that are easy to insert and remove and can provide excellent vision. They move slightly with blinks and allow maximum oxygen to get to the eye.
3.) Hybrid Contact Lenses
Hybrid contact lenses are comprised of a rigid gas permeable lens in the center and a soft contact lens "skirt" surrounding the lens. This can aide in helping the lens center and making them more comfortable.
4.) Custom Soft Contact Lenses
In some, usually mild, cases, patients with corneal transplants are able to see well with custom soft contact lenses. These lenses are special designed and ordered instead of being "commercially available". The thickness of the lens helps to minimize irregularities in the cornea.
Q: WHAT IS THE NEXT STEP FOR ME AS A PATIENT?
A: The contact lens fitting process starts with a Specialty Contact Lens Consultation. This consultation covers all testing necessary to determine the best option to perfect your vision. We will take scans of your eye and evaluate different types of lenses at this examination in order to assess your visual potential.
If you decide to proceed with contact lenses, the lenses are ordered for you and you will return in about 1-3 weeks to try on the initial lens.
This initial lens is our first chance to see how things look. If the lenses looks good you will leave with the lenses and return for a follow up visit to give us feedback on comfort and vision. We may need to alter the lens at this visit and will order lenses with different parameters.
Once we start the process of designing your lens you are able to return for unlimited follow ups and lens changes for three months until we have a final product.