A Guide to Specialty Contact Lenses 

by Mar 4, 2020

Soft contact lenses have become one of the most popular options for vision correction.  While they are an excellent alternative to glasses and can provide clear vision to many people, soft contact lenses may not be the perfect fit for everyone.  Some people choose to correct their vision with specialty contact lenses, such as gas permeable lenses, scleral lenses, or hybrid contact lenses. If you have unsuccessfully tried soft contact lenses in the past, or are simply interested in trying a different type of lens, ask your doctor if a specialty fit contact lens is an option for you.  


Corneal Gas Permeable (GP) Specialty Contact Lenses

Gas permeable, or GP, contact lenses are rigid lenses made of a silicone-based material, which allows them to still be somewhat flexible and easily transmits oxygen and nutrients to the front surface of the eye.  Original rigid GP lenses were made of a much tougher and less breathable lens, but many new developments over the past several decades have made today’s GP lenses much more comfortable and healthier for the ocular surface.  GP lenses rest on the tear film and center themselves over the central portion of the cornea. Because of their firm and stable shape, they are an excellent option for people who may have irregular corneal surfaces due to previous trauma or injuries, irregular amounts of astigmatism, or degenerative corneal conditions such as keratoconus.  While they are commonly used in these difficult-to-manage cases, anyone can try GP lenses; they are effective in correcting nearsightedness, farsightedness, and even presbyopia. The lenses are durable, and one pair can last up to a year if properly cleaned and cared for.  


Scleral Contact Lenses

Scleral contact lenses are large diameter rigid lenses.  They are made of the same breathable material as corneal GP lenses, but scleral lenses are much larger in size.  Instead of resting directly on the tear film, scleral lenses completely vault over the cornea and rest gently on the white part of the eye.  Before being placed over the corneal surface, they are filled with a nourishing liquid which keeps the front of the eye comfortable and lubricated all day.  This constant source of lubrication to the ocular surface makes scleral lenses an excellent option for those who suffer from dry eye disease. Scleral lenses have quickly gained popularity because of their comfort, superior optics, and ability to provide clear stable vision to almost everyone, even those who struggle to successfully wear soft contact lenses or gas permeable lenses.  


Hybrid Contact Lenses

A combination of soft contact lenses and rigid lenses, hybrid contact lenses combine the best of both worlds.  These lenses have a rigid center, similar to a GP or scleral lens, which means they have excellent optics and provide very clear and stable vision.  The firm center of the lens is surrounded by a soft skirt, made of material similar to a soft contact lens. This soft edge makes hybrid lenses extremely comfortable.  Like gas permeable and scleral lenses, hybrid contacts can be used for people who have high amounts of astigmatism, or for those affected by keratoconus.   

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At Nittany Eye Associates, you will receive only the highest quality eye exam with our eye doctors in the State College, PA and surrounding areas. Call us at (814) 234-2015 or schedule an appointment online with one of our highly trained optometrists in State College. The next time you need an evaluation for specialty contact lenses be sure to Nittany Eye Associates where we put always put the care of you and your family first at our convenient locations in State College, Matilda, Spring Mills, Tyrone, and Lock Haven PA areas.



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