So you had RK (Radial Keratotomy) eye surgery in the 80’s…

RK was performed in the 70-90’s and many patients now require glasses or special contact lenses to see clearly.

Before the days of LASIK vision correction, Radial keratotomy (RK) was the miracle surgery that allowed the blind to see without glasses.  Unfortunately, there were no data that tested the long-term results of RK.  Many patient had great vision after the surgery, but their eyes slowly worsened year after year.  RK is no longer performed because results are unpredictable and LASIK allows for much safer and precise correction.

Some RK patients see fine without glasses, several decades after the surgery, but many require glasses.  There is a small percent of patients that cannot even see with glasses and experience drastic changes to their vision throughout each day.  This is due to the high degree of corneal irregularity from post-RK scars.

The only way to treat corneal irregularity is to cover it with a scleral lens.  A scleral contact lens contains saline that fills in the gaps covering the cornea and restores a smooth surface to the eye surface.  These special lenses are as comfortable as soft contact lenses and provide clearer vision than glasses or any other type of contact lens.

Schedule your contact lens evaluation today to see the difference a Scleral lens could make in your vision!

So you’ve been diagnosed with Ocular Graft vs. Host Disease (GVHD) …

GVHD may cause severe eye dryness that results in permanent vision loss without treatment.

Hematologic stem cell transplantation is commonly used to repair the immune system following high intensity radiation treatment.  Simply put, a donor gives healthy blood to somebody with a weakened immune system to jump start their immunity and prevent them from becoming sick.

It is common for the new blood cells (the graft) to view the recipient (the host) tissue as foreign.  This results in tissue damage, often targeting the tear glands of the eyes.  This is termed Ocular Graft versus Host Disease (GVHD).  Damaged tear glands tend to stop working well, if at all, and result in a severely dry eye surface.  This dryness is painful, debilitating, and may cause permanent vision loss if not treated quickly.

The solution?  Scleral contact lenses.  These lenses restore the ability to live a day without worrying whether or not your eye irritation will keep you in bed all day.

Schedule a Scleral contact lens evaluation today to get started and get dry eye relief! Suburban Eye Care: (734) 525-8170

So you’ve been diagnosed with Keratoconus? What now?

What is Keratoconus?

Keratoconus is a disease of the eye that begins very mild in the early decades of life and eventually requires special treatment in order to maintain vision.  The disease is caused by the failure of collagen (the hard glue of the body) in the cornea to maintain its strength.  As the cornea weakens, a small area of the cornea bulges forward, producing a dome or cone shape on the front of the cornea (hence the name “kerato-conus”; or cone of the cornea).  Along with genetics that can lead to a weak cornea, another associated risk factor is eye rubbing, often due to allergies.  Avoiding rubbing the eyes, preventing children from rubbing their eyes, and using anti-allergy eye drops are all steps that may lower risk of developing keratoconus.

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What are the treatment options?

There are several treatment options for keratoconus, depending on the severity:

Mild Keratoconus

Glasses

Glasses are a poor treatment option for keratoconus and will not provide clear vision.  A contact lens is almost always necessary for usable vision and is a much better option than glasses alone.  A backup pair of glasses should be kept for times that contact lenses may not be worn due to health risks such as corneal ulcer, infection, or even lost lenses.

Soft Contact Lenses (Custom made)

Younger patients are able to achieve good vision with a custom made soft contact lens.  In my office, we use a soft lens that is replaced every 3 months.  The lens is made specifically for each patient’s eye and is usually very comfortable.

Corneal Cross-Linking

In April 2016, the FDA approved the first corneal cross-linking system in the United States.  Corneal cross-linking is a procedure used to strengthen the cornea and slow the progression of early keratoconus.  Ultra Violet light (UV-A) and Riboflavin (Vitamin B2) eye drops are used for the treatment, which is an outpatient procedure that generally lasts less than an hour.  The procedure is not meant to improve keratoconus or cure it, but merely stabilize it.  A contact lens will still be necessary to maintain vision.

Moderate Keratoconus

As the condition worsen, soft contact lenses will no longer be successful.  A “hard contact lens” or RGP (Rigid gas permeable) lens is the next line of treatment.  There are several different designs of RGP lenses that may be used:

Traditional RGP Lens

These lenses are small and rest directly on the cornea.  They are the traditional method of correcting early-moderate keratoconus.

Scleral Contact Lens

This lens is made of the same material as an RGP, but is larger in diameter.  Instead of setting on cornea, the lens rests on the sclera (white of eye).  This is the preferred method of correcting moderate to moderate to severe keratoconus because it does not scar the cornea as much as traditional RGP lenses.  They also may provide better comfort and vision than other types of contact lenses.  Read more at my post about scleral lenses.

A backup pair of contacts is strongly recommended if vision is dependent on the contact lenses.  These lenses can often take up to 1-3 weeks to order and receive, which can be devastating if relying on only one set of lenses that broke or have been lost.

Severe Keratoconus

Late stage keratoconus is detrimental to quality of life unless treated.  Once scleral contact lenses no longer improve vision, cornea transplant is often the only option to increase sight.  This stage of the disease is usually reached during the later decades of life and varies greatly between patients.

Technology update – Scleral contact lenses

Scleral lenses are the newest contact lens technology offering sharp vision along with outstanding comfort.  They are often used to treat potentially blinding eye conditions such as keratoconus, but are also a terrific alternative to normal contact lenses if dryness or comfort has been an issue in the past while wearing lenses.

What’s different about scleral lenses from normal soft contact lenses?

The name “scleral” refers to the size of the contact lens.  Instead of the lens resting on the cornea like a soft contact lens, the lens is designed larger than the cornea, allowing it to rest on the sclera (the white of the eye).  The advantage of using the sclera as a resting place instead of the cornea is what provides the improved comfort.  The sclera has few nerve receptors compared to the dense nerve network of the cornea.  Less nerve receptors being irritated by a contact lens generally means better all day comfort while wearing lenses.

The most common conditions that are treated with scleral contact lenses:

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  • Moderate to Severe dry eye
    • The lenses are inserted differently than a typical soft contact lens.  Before applying the lens to the eye, the bowl of the lens is filled with saline.  This provides hydration to the eye throughout the day without worrying about drying out mid-day.
  • Keratoconus
    • Keratoconus is a condition of the eye that causes blurred vision, even with prescription glasses. A scleral contact lens is required to improve vision in the moderate and severe stages of keratoconus.  Traditionally, hard lenses (rigid gas permeable lenses) have been used, but they may cause scarring that can be avoided with scleral contact lenses.
  • Post-LASIK eyes / Post-RK eyes / Irregular corneas
    • Many people who had refractive surgery (LASIK / PRK / RK) in the 80’s and 90’s complain about dry eyes. Scleral lenses are a great option for anyone with dryness or vision distortion after refractive surgery.  The saline in the lens fills in the irregularities from the scar tissue on the cornea and also hydrates the surface of the eye to prevent dryness.
  • Graft versus Host Disease
    • Graft versus host disease (GVHD) causes an attack on the tear glands of the eye, causing severe dryness that results in extreme pain and potential blindness.  The scleral lens is used to provide constant hydration to the eye throughout the entire day.

Ask your optometrist today if you’re a candidate for scleral contact lenses!