Prosthetic Contact Lenses - Hiding Defects and Helping Vision
When you meet someone, their eyes are probably one of the first things that you notice. For most of us, this situation is not particularly noteworthy, but those who have a visible defect or blemish in their eye may feel self-conscious or embarrassed. Even if an eye problem is only aesthetic, it can affect a person's self-confidence enormously.
What are prosthetic contact lenses?
A prosthetic lens is designed to cover the surface of the eye as any contact lens would, but instead of being clear, it's colored to disguise an injury or defect which would otherwise make the eye awkward to look at. Often these contact lenses purely cosmetic and aren't needed to correct a vision problem, but they can be made to do so if required. They can also be therapeutic for certain conditions. For example a prosthetic lens for someone with albinism (lack of pigment in the iris) might reduce the amount of light entering the eye in addition to making the eye appear more normal, because albinism causes sensitivity to light.
Examples of eye problems which can be helped by prosthetic lenses are:
- Aniridia (absence of the iris, can be congenital or caused by trauma)
- Albinism (lack of pigment)
- Corneal scars
- Various physical abnormalities of the cornea, lens or iris
- Extraocular muscle disorders
- Amblyopia (lazy eye)
- Strabismus (crossed eyes)
- Extreme photophobia (sensitivity to light)
Benefits of prosthetic lenses
One benefit of prosthetic lenses is that they can be used to correct a cosmetic problem which would otherwise require surgery. For example, a prosthetic lens can be used to make an eye that has “crossed” appear properly aligned. Also, special contact lenses called occluders can be used to block all light from entering an eye. This can be used an alternative to an eye patch for conditions like “lazy eye” (amblyopia ), where the stronger eye must be covered to force the brain to use the weaker one. This is particularly useful when treating lazy eye in children, as they are sometimes reluctant to wear an eye patch. A contact lens is much more difficult for stubborn children to remove, plus it's invisible, so they won't be teased by classmates.
Buying and caring for prosthetic contact lenses
Prosthetic lenses are available in various stock colors, which work great for many people. For those with more unique eye colors, custom, hand-painted lenses can be ordered. Prosthetic contact lenses are created based on digital photographs, which are taken of both the eyes. This enables the truest color match to be obtained, along with any unique eye coloring patterns.
Similar to regular contact lenses, prosthetic lenses can be made gas permeable or soft, but as they are hand-crafted, they are more expensive than regular lenses and are not designed to be disposable. Prosthetic lenses require the same care as regular contacts, and should be cleaned regularly with the proper solutions to protect both your lenses and your eye health.
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