Millions of people are affected by an eye condition so severe that it seriously limits their lives but with modern contact lens technology most can now be helped.
Up to 1 in 500 people are rendered partially sighted by a common group of conditions that affect the surface and shape of the front layer of the eye, the cornea. Distortion of the cornea, due to keratoconus , causes blurred vision with ghosting, haloes and even multiple images. It can be likened to constantly looking through a window covered in heavy rain.
The world as seen through a distorted cornea.
These conditions cannot be corrected with spectacles or standard contact lenses, and laser refractive surgery will simply make it worse, many people only discover they may be prone to keratoconus and related conditions when they visit a laser clinic. Specialised surgical options such as implants, corneal grafts and most recently cross-linking can be an effective treatment, but are not always possible.
The simpler, non invasive and more accessible route is specialist contact lenses, usually rigid gas permeable (RGP) contact lenses. Although GP lenses can often be very uncomfortable, removing them means stepping out of the sighted world into that of a partially sighted person; very stressful, and now unnecessary.
Living with such poor eyesight is difficult because it means having to make choices; for example, using ‘seeing time’ for work or for spending time with family.
Major new developments in materials and optics have now opened up the choices extensively, making the latest and most healthy (Silicone Hydrogel) contact lenses available for even the most complex irregular corneas.