Keratoconus is an eye disease that most people have never heard of. But chances are, if you’re reading this, you not only have heard of it, you or someone you love may have it. And that means that you’re also looking for a solution for seeing clearly with Keratoconus (also known as KC). While some doctors promote various kinds of surgery for Keratoconus, we strongly believe that the best treatment for most patients is a non-surgical Keratoconus treatment using specialized contact lenses. Many other Optometrists and Ophthalmologists agree, but they have difficulty in creating Keratoconus Lenses that fit well enough for the patient to see well and wear all day. At the California Keratoconus Center, we have created techniques for creating better fitting Keratoconus Lenses for our patients that often bring tears of joy to their eyes.
What Is Keratoconus
Keratoconus is usually a progressive disease that results in a mis-shapen cornea. Since light passes through the cornea before it enters the lens, vision is distorted much like it would be if you were looking through a cut-crystal drinking glass. With many other eye conditions, such as far-sightedness or near-sightedness, light behaves the same no matter where on the eye it enters. But with Keratoconus, light enters the cornea from different angles and then goes off in different directions through the lens. This often causes glare, ghosting, starbursts, night vision problems and other symptoms which are collectively called High Order Aberrations, and are exceptionally difficult to treat.
Treating Keratoconus With Contact Lenses
And because Keratoconus results in peaks and valleys on the cornea, it can’t be treated successfully with conventional lenses. Placing such a lens on a cornea with KC is much like placing a saucer on top of an up-turned tea cup. It will wobble, not stay in place, and when the patient blinks, will often irritate the eye and eyelid because the lid will rub on the edge of the lens. This results in red eyes, dry eyes, and the inability for the patient to wear the lenses all day long.
More importantly, conventional lenses are a poor treatment for Keratoconus because they don’t stay in place on the eye. Due to the complex topography (peaks and valleys) of a cornea with KC, the lens must have different kinds of correction at every point on the lens, and a conventional lens just can’t be made to do this reliably and with much success.
Unfortunately, many Eye Doctors not trained to diagnose or treat Keratoconus will still try to prescribe conventional lenses for moderate to severe Keratoconus — including soft lenses or toric hard lenses — resulting in poor vision, irritated eyes and extreme frustration for the patient.
Better Fitting Keratoconus Lenses
While we sometimes use Rigid Gas Permeable Lenses or Soft Contact Lenses for mild Keratoconus, for everything else we design better fitting Keratoconus lenses by using Scleral Lenses. But that’s only part of the story. It’s how we diagnose your Keratoconus and design your lenses that are the real keys to our success and your better vision.
What Are Scleral Lenses?
Scleral lenses differ from conventional lenses because they are designed to not only cover the lens and iris, but to extend far onto the “sclera”, which is the white part of the eye. This allows us to design lenses that vault over the cornea — the part of the eye that is oddly shaped in Keratoconus patients — and rest on the sclera. And because the sclera is uniquely shaped on every eye, we can design our scleral lenses to fit precisely on the sclera and not move, much like a saddle sits firmly on a horse.
Extremely Precise Diagnosis and Prescriptions
The California Keratoconus Center is a technology leader for Keratoconus Lenses. Our diagnostics area is filled with the most advanced technology available for precisely viewing and measuring eyes and vision. In fact, some Eye Doctors have commented about how our technology is far more advanced than many large eye institutes or large, commercial eye care companies.
We are not only users of this technology, but we also work with the manufacturers and their scientists to improve the technology, and train other Eye Doctors who are trying to improve their own skills. One of the pieces of technology that is central to our better fitting Keratoconus lenses is the Eaglet Eye Surface Profiler, which is a device that can map 350,000 points on an eye, helping us to arrive at a precise diagnosis which we can then show (in 3D fully rotating images) to you.
We combine this precise mapping of your eye with our 30+ years experience of treating Keratoconus to design a lens that — thinking back to the cut crystal glass — has a different prescription at each point of your eye, correcting the vision at that point. We can only do this because we know that the scleral lens will not move or rotate on the eye, and that every prescription on that lens will be over the exact right spot on your cornea in order to provide you excellent vision.
The lenses we design for you will be from one of several high quality lens laboratories, including Bostonsight, ZenLens, and ScanFitPro. We have relationships with these lens labs, and others, so that they will work with us to provide a better fitting, perfectly fitting scleral lens for your Keratoconus.
First Fit Success
When we design and fit Keratoconus lenses for our patients, we’re not done until you, the patient are happy with both the fit and the vision. We measure our first-fit success rate, and while conventional methods of designing Keratoconus Lenses can result in a first-fit success less than one third of the time, our first-fit success rate for Scleral Lenses is 52%…and our second fit success rate is 85%…and it is going up all the time.
Get Your Own Better Fitting Keratoconus Lenses
There’s really no secret formula to what we do to create better fitting Keratoconus lenses for our patients. If you would like to experience it for yourself, make an appointment with Dr. Barry Leonard, director of the California Keratoconus Center. You can either make your appointment online or call us at 818-891-6711.