From the time Kenneth was 11 years old, he wore glasses to correct his quickly deteriorating vision. He was always forced to sit at the front of the classroom and felt embarrassed by it. This time in his life marked the beginning of seemingly endless visits to various eye doctors to try and figure out what was causing his vision problems.
Four years later, at the age of 15, Kenneth was diagnosed with keratoconus, a progressive eye disease that affects the shape and condition of the cornea. Kenneth was referred by his ophthalmologist to an optometrist who [specializess] in treating keratoconus.
The optometrist explained that keratoconus is a condition that causes the cornea to thin and bulge out in a cone-like shape, leading to visual impairment. The early stages of this progressive eye disease usually cause mild to moderate vision problems that can be corrected with eyeglasses. But as the cornea’s shape continues to distort, glasses are no longer suitable and rigid contact lenses must be prescribed.
The optometrist prescribed rigid gas permeable contact lenses, which significantly improved Kenneth’s vision. But Kenneth sometimes found his contacts hard to manage, and even uncomfortable at times. People would tell him to just ‘switch back to glasses’ and ‘stop wearing the lenses if they give you so much grief.’
That wasn’t possible. He simply couldn’t see without the contacts.
Thankfully, before Kenneth’s condition progressed to the point where cornea surgery was required, new technology gave him fresh hope.
At the age of 20, Kenneth was fitted for scleral contact lenses for the first time. The day of the fitting was an emotional one for him and his family, as he was truly able to see the world around him in detail—and with great comfort.
Kenneth walked out of the optometrist’s practice, looked around, and saw leaves on the trees for the first time in 5 years. Prior to this, his perception of trees were brown stumps with green shrubbery—but never leaves.
He noticed that the cars driving past him on the street looked astonishingly clean. Nothing seemed faded anymore. Colors were vivid, lines were sharp.
The detail and clarity of each object were genuinely overwhelming for him. His mom, who also suffers from keratoconus, was overcome with emotion as she watched her son visually experience his surroundings in a whole new way.
From that day forward, Kenneth’s life changed drastically. His scleral contact lenses enabled him to function normally and achieve his goals. Wearing his sclerals allows him to work, exercise, socialize and be his authentic self.
Kenneth confesses that when he doesn’t wear his sclerals, his entire personality changes. He becomes timid, quiet and apprehensive.
Having keratoconus will no longer hinder Kenneth from living his best life, and it doesn’t have to hinder you or an affected loved one.
To a person with corneal disease, scleral lenses can be truly life-changing. If you or a loved one has keratoconus or other corneal irregularities, contact New Era Eyecare today.
New Era Eyecare serves patients from Clifton, Arlington, Sterling, and Alexandria, all throughout Virginia.
Q: #1: How do scleral lenses work?
- A: Scleral contact lenses are hard lenses that have a much larger diameter than standard soft contact lenses. They vault over the entire cornea and rest on the sclera (the white of the eye) so that no part of the lens is touching the cornea itself. The lens holds a reservoir of soothing and nourishing fluid between the eye and the lens, providing the best in visual clarity and comfort.
Q: #2: What other conditions do scleral lenses help with?
- A: Any patient with irregular corneas can benefit from scleral lenses. They’re also suitable for patients with severe dry eye syndrome, as the fluid reservoir helps maintain comfort and ocular hydration. They’re also great for patients with very high refractive errors (high myopia, hyperopia, or astigmatism). Speak to your eye doctor if you think scleral lenses may be right for you.