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Types of Specialty Contact Lenses


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Specialty contact lenses can provide an effective solution when conventional treatments don’t work. Specialty contact lenses may be an option if you’re struggling with hard-to-treat vision problems or eye discomfort.

Bascom Palmer Eye Institute provides cutting-edge care in this area of ophthalmology, serving patients in South Florida and worldwide. As experts in custom contact lens fitting, we provide three kinds of specialty contact lenses:

  • Scleral lenses (including PROSE treatment, image-guided lenses, and impression-based lenses)
  • Rigid gas-permeable (RGP) lenses
  • Hybrid lenses

Specialty lenses can treat problems like severe dry eye, keratoconus, astigmatism, and more.

Scleral lenses: Benefits and types

Scleral lenses are large-diameter specialty contact lenses made of a hard, breathable material. They don’t sit directly on the cornea (which covers the center of your eye). Rather, their outer edges rest on the white part of your eye (the sclera).

Benefits include:

  • Scleral lenses can be filled with sterile saline solution to lubricate your eyes continuously while you wear them. This can provide an effective treatment for severe dry eye.
  • By vaulting over your entire eye, scleral lenses create a smooth optical surface. This can help correct hard-to-treat vision problems.

At Bascom Palmer, we offer several different types of scleral lenses, including PROSE treatment, image-guided lenses, and impression-based lenses.

PROSE treatment

PROSE is a highly customized scleral lens for treating complex cases such as:

  • Chronic dry eye
  • Keratoconus
  • Graft vs. host disease
  • Stevens-Johnson syndrome
  • And others

The PROSE process

PROSE treatment begins with a consultation to discuss your concerns and treatment goals. We also conduct imaging and perform a trial contact lens fitting. After completing the consultation, we use special PROSE software to design your custom lenses. Next, we have follow-up appointments to make additional fitting adjustments as needed.

PROSE benefits

PROSE treatment was the first ultra-customizable lens, representing a significant advancement in eye care. It offers benefits include:

  • Improved vision
  • Increased comfort
  • Less fogging

PROSE also offers a team-based approach, where providers can collaborate on specific cases. All PROSE providers are fellowship-trained. Bascom Palmer is one of only 15 providers in the country and the only provider in Florida to offer PROSE treatment.

Image-guided scleral lenses

Image-guided scleral lenses use imaging technology as the basis of their design – offering an innovative approach to custom eyecare.

To create these lenses at Bascom Palmer, we first determine the unique shape of your eyes using advanced mapping technology called SMap3D. We then use the images we captured to make the lenses.

With this approach, we can make lenses faster and with more precision. Lenses that used to take months to fit may now sometimes be completed in two or three fittings.

Impression-based scleral lenses

Impression-based scleral lenses use a special molding technique to create highly customizable lenses.

For this process, we use a device called EyePrintPRO to take detailed impressions of your eyes. We then send the impressions to a special lab, which uses the impressions to print 3D contact lenses.

This can be an excellent option for visually impaired patients with trouble looking straight. It allows us to fit patients that would be hard to fit with conventional means.

Other types of specialty contact lenses: RGPs and hybrids

Rigid gas-permeable (RGP) lenses

RGPs are hard specialty contact lenses that allow oxygen to pass through them so the eye can breathe. Unlike scleral lenses, they sit on the cornea. Therefore, they do not offer lubrication options for treating conditions like dry eye. However, they can provide other benefits.

For example, RGPs can provide better vision than routine soft lenses because of their firm, stable shape and custom fit. This stability may make them an especially good choice for correcting problems like astigmatism. On the other hand, the stability can also make RGP lenses feel a little stiff. Therefore, adjusting when you first wear them may take some extra time.

Hybrid lenses

These specialty contact lenses are a combination of RGP and conventional soft lenses. They have a hard gas-permeable center and a soft outside (or “skirt”). Also, they’re larger in diameter than RGP lenses. Hybrid lenses can provide the vision benefits of RGPs with the ease of wear of a soft lens.

Additional features: Double-vision and multifocal options

If you choose to have specialty contact lenses, we can add other features to address specific vision needs. For example:

  • Multifocal option. We offer multifocal designs for any of the specialty contact lenses if desired. This allows for multiple prescriptions in one lens (for example, you could have one prescription for near and one for far).
  • Prism correction. We can offer prism correction for patients experiencing double vision for scleral lenses only.

Getting the right fit for you

The right fit can make a big difference when it comes to specialty contact lenses. To support the highest possible level of care, our specially trained ophthalmologists use advanced technology, such as:

  • SMap3D technology. Also called corneo-scleral topography, this helps us measure the shape of your eye to create a custom lens for you. You simply need to gaze in several directions so we can capture detailed maps of your eye.
  • Eaglet Eye. This is another tool that can help us capture detailed mapping of your eye to achieve a better, faster, more customized contact lens fit.

Compassionate, expert eyecare guidance

As leaders in eye treatment, we understand that coping with eye problems can be traumatic and debilitating. Regardless of your concerns, you can count on Bascom Palmer for compassionate, expert guidance.

Along with specialty contact lenses, we provide a full range of comprehensive eye services. That means you can find all the care you need in one place – from the nation’s No. 1 eye hospital.

Schedule your consultation today

When it comes to your eyes, getting the care you need can’t wait.

If you’ve tried glasses, regular contact lenses, or topical eye treatments without success, we can help. Before you spend another day in discomfort, let us talk with you about your treatment options. Often, specialty contact lenses can solve problems that conventional measures can’t treat.

Questions? We're here to help.

Contact us today to schedule your contact lens consultation.