Types of Specialty Contact Lenses

If you can’t see clearly without wearing prescription lenses, you might be thinking about wearing contact lenses, which eliminate many of the limitations experienced by wearing glasses. However, standard contact lenses aren’t right for everyone, and if you have a corneal abnormality or eye condition, you could be forgiven for thinking that you can’t wear contact lenses at all. Fortunately, a whole range of different contacts has been developed specifically for people who aren’t suitable candidates for conventional lenses.

These include people who:


  • Suffer from corneal abnormalities such as scarring of the cornea, or keratoconus, which is a condition caused by the progressive thinning and cone-like bulging of the cornea.

  • Have dry eye disease.

  • Are diagnosed with astigmatism, which is where the eye is shaped like a football rather than a soccer ball, and light is refracted onto several different points inside the eye as a result. Have giant papillary conjunctivitis.

  • Have recently undergone LASIK or other refractive laser vision correction.


There are various types of specialty contact lenses to choose from and your eye doctor will help you to select the ones which are most appropriate based on your individual needs. In the meantime, here are some of the most popular types and brands of specialty contact lenses.


Scleral Lenses


Scleral contact lenses are gas permeable lenses that have several elements that make them different from conventional contacts. Firstly, they are large in diameter, meaning that they are considerably bigger than ordinary lenses. In fact, there are several sizes to choose from, with the smallest starting at around 14.5mm in diameter and the largest up to 24mm. Their large diameter means that they rest on the white part of the eye, called the sclera, rather than the edge of the cornea where they could cause issues in patients with corneal abnormalities. Their large size also gives them greater stability on the surface of the eye, ensuring clear and precise vision.


Secondly, scleral lenses have a vaulted section rather than sitting flat against the surface of the eye. This vault, which happens over the cornea, provides enough space to accommodate any corneal abnormalities like the bulge associated with keratoconus. It also traps a reservoir of the tear film, which helps to keep the eyes hydrated and comfortable, and less prone to dryness.


Gas Permeable Lenses


Gas permeable contact lenses are made from a special material that allows oxygen to penetrate through and reach the surface of the eyes, keeping them healthy and hydrated. However, their rigidity means that they can retain their shape at all times, helping to ensure the stable vision for the wearer. Like scleral lenses, gas permeable lenses are also larger than conventional types, covering around 7% of the cornea. This makes them easier to handle, more comfortable, and more stable on the eye. While they are highly effective at improving vision in patients for whom regular contact lenses aren’t suitable, some patients do find them uncomfortable to wear at first and it can take a number of weeks to adjust to them.




Zenlenses are a popular type of full vaulting scleral lens. They too are made from gas permeable material which enables oxygen to pass through the lens material and reach the surface of the eye, keeping it healthy and hydrated. They also have all the other design components of scleral contacts. However, Zenlenses are also created using the cutting-edge Smart CurveÔ system which allows your optometrist to make tiny adjustments, tailoring the lens precisely to your eyes, providing superior quality vision as well as unrivaled comfort. Better still, the Smart CurveÔ system allows for quick and easy modifications, rather than long appointments readjusting and refitting the lenses.


Some of the key benefits of Zenlenses include:


  • Reduced dryness, thanks to the vault that creates a tear layer between the cornea and lens.

  • Consistent vision.

  • Exceptional comfort since the lenses are tailored specifically to your eyes.

  • Stable optics, including large optic zones that stay cantered firmly over the pupils.


Your optometrist will be able to tell you if you are a good candidate for Zenlenses.


SynergEyes Lenses


SynergEyes have developed a range of specialty contact lenses, ensuring that there is a variety for virtually every patient irrespective of their needs. Their range includes scleral gas-permeable lenses, as well as hybrid contact lenses.


Hybrid contact lenses are different from scleral lenses. As their name suggests, they are a fusion of two different types of contact lenses. They have a rigid, gas-permeable center that provides clear, concise vision while still enabling oxygen to reach the surface of the eyes and keep it comfortable. Meanwhile, the outer edge of the lenses is made from the same material used in soft contact lenses, meaning that there are no hard, uncomfortable edges that many patients struggle to get used to.


For more advice on the specialty contact lenses listed here, don’t hesitate to contact Studio Optix in New York, NY at (212) 765-4444.




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