Wave Goodbye to Vision Problems with Wavefront Lenses
The eye doctor has been showing you what looks to be the same two lenses for five minutes now, asking in a friendly, but oddly monotone voice, “Better here, or here?” all the while. You’d probably like to kick the poor guy in the shin and get the heck out of there because the whole thing seems pretty pointless.
But the doctor is not testing your patience, not on purpose anyway; he simply needs to test minute variations in lens strength to give you the best possible vision correction. In the past, this sort of testing was the only available option, but now we can rejoice, because better methods exist. One of these is Wavefront analysis.
Doing the wave
Wavefront technology was originally developed for LASIK diagnosis, but is now being used to create better eyeglass lenses. During analysis, a beam of light is shined into your eye, and the light waves are measured as they reflect back off of the retina. This data generates a unique map of your eye (no two are alike!) which, in turn, is used to create a one-of-a-kind lens just for you.
As you can imagine, a custom lens can give much better vision than a conventional one-size-fits-all, but there is a downside: Wavefront lenses aren’t cheap, and are usually not covered by eye care insurance. In fact, you can expect to pay nearly 30% more for these special lenses, but for some people, especially those with vision problems like higher order aberrations, they can be well worth the cost. Benefits include better and crisper night vision as well as higher definition vision during the day. (Are you familiar with HD video technology? Think of Wavefront lenses as high def for your face!)
Getting the goods
The first companies to offer these new lenses were Ophthonix Corp. and Essilor of America with Opthonix offering a more individualized lens than other companies. For those who are interested in the Wavefront lenses, there are several options to select from.
iZon- Only certain eye doctors can help you get iZon lenses because they have to have a specialized instrument to prescribe them. The Ophthonix Z-view aberrometer is used to create a clear and unique picture of your vision correction needs based on wavefront measurements, meaning that you will have custom designed lenses when all is said and done.
While there are some solid benefits to the lenses in addition to the custom vision (namely high index material, scratch resistance and anti-reflective coating) the cost is fairly steep at nearly 25% more than what you would pay for others.
In addition to the additional cost, you should question whether you are even a good candidate for these lenses. Unless you really need the special corrections you will not notice any major change from one type to the other. And, certain conditions may preclude you from having them at all.
I can see clearly now...
In addition to individualized analysis that can custom fit lenses for each patient, the wavefront analysis has helped improve lens designs across the board for everybody. Commonly known eye glass limitations can be addressed using the wavefront analysis so that the lens clarity can be improved. Moreover, wavefront analysis has been used to improve the progressive lenses that give crisp vision correction between three fields of vision, without the lines of bifocals or trifocals. Wavefront lenses that are meant to replace the progressive lenses cost, on average, about 30% more but are good for those who are having trouble adjusting to their old progressive lenses.
Research is ongoing that might one day lead to lenses that are able to give better than 20/20 vision to soldiers using the wavefront measurements to create perfectly adaptive lenses.
Who would benefit from wavefront lenses?
The best candidates for wavefront lenses are those who are not getting the vision correction that they need from more conventional lenses or contact lenses or those who would benefit from sharper night vision. Those who have had Lasik eye surgery but still need some vision correction would also be a good candidate for wavefront lenses as would those who have good eyesight but are troubled by problems like double vision or halos around light sources, especially in low light situations.
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