You’ve heard of prosthetic limbs before, but have you ever heard of prosthetic contact lenses? What these lenses do for your eye is the same concept as what prosthetic limbs do for the body—they help improve appearance after trauma. Just like someone would be fitted for a prosthetic leg after a nasty accident, someone would be fitted for prosthetic lenses due to eye trauma.
What are prosthetic contact lenses?
Just like standard contact lenses, prosthetic lenses are made using soft or gas-permeable lens materials. They can also be cleaned with the same materials that you’d use to clean regular contact lenses.
Where prosthetic lenses differ is their purpose.
If someone suffers from trauma to the eye area, whether it’s from a birth defect, trauma, or eye disease, prosthetic lenses can be prescribed to mask any flaws and improve the appearance of the eyeball. Note that they are prescription only.
Specific purposes of prosthetic lenses
Prosthetic lenses can also have specific purposes aside from appearance improvement, like blocking excess light and glare. This can make a damaged eye feel more comfortable in natural light settings.
Just like regular lenses, custom prosthetics can correct nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism. They can also be made without any of these corrective properties if their sole purpose is to provide aesthetic improvement to the eye area.
How are prosthetic lenses prescribed?
First things first—you need a full, thorough eye examination from a licensed professional.
One of the main purposes of this exam is for your practitioner to rule out any underlying conditions that could conflict with prosthetic lenses or create an uncomfortable environment.
Next comes the lens fitting. This is a bit different than a typical lens fitting, since prosthetic contact lenses are custom-created. Your eye care professional will probably take detailed, close-up photographs of your eye. These color photographs will then be sent to the company that will be manufacturing the prosthetic lenses.
Your natural eye appearance and color will be matched as closely as the manufacturer is able.
A handful of eye clinics, including some keratoconus clinics, might have a sample set of prosthetic lenses on hand. This way, you could see how they fit against your eye so you know what to expect when your custom pair arrives.
What conditions warrant the use of prosthetic lenses?
Prosthetics become necessary contact lenses when the patient has suffered some kind of optical trauma—this could be from birth, too.
Here is a list of conditions that might warrant prosthetic contact lenses:
- Injury to the eye at any point since, during, or before birth
- Albinism (lack of pigment in the skin that also affects the eyes)
- Cornea damage due to trauma
- Aniridia, or an incomplete formation of one or both pupils
- Double vision that is caused by an underlying eye condition
- Light sensitivity that is caused by an underlying eye condition
- Amblyopia, also known as “lazy eye”
Do you have any questions about prosthetic lenses and eye care?
Any questions about prosthetic lenses and more advanced, progressive conditions of the eye are best addressed by an eye care professional who has expertise in these areas—not just an optometrist.
Eyelux Optometry in San Diego, California is home to many eye care professionals who specialize in prosthetic lenses, keratoconus, and many other advanced eye conditions, all alongside general eye care as well. Contact them today with any questions.