Contact Lenses for Keratoconus: What Are Your Options?

Contact Lenses for Keratoconus - What Are Your Options?

Keratoconus is a corneal disease that causes thinning and bulging of the cornea. Because the cornea is a major part of the eye that is responsible for giving you clear vision, any irregularity or change in its shape will cause your vision to be distorted. If you’ve been diagnosed with keratoconus, your eye doctor will likely recommend specialty contact lenses for keratoconus to help improve your vision.

In the video below, Dr. Jackie Garlich discusses what you need to know before being fit with contacts for keratoconus.

If you don’t like the video or want more information, continue reading.

Let’s look at all your contact lens options for keratoconus:

Soft contact lenses are typically not a good option for people with keratoconus

1) Soft contact lenses

These lenses typically don’t work well for people with keratoconus. Why? Soft contacts aimlessly drape over the cornea and people with keratoconus typically need a stiffer contact lens to correct for their corneal irregularities. A soft lens is too flexible to do this.

RGP contact lenses are often a decent option for people with keratoconus

2) Rigid gas permeable contact lenses

These lenses work better than soft lenses on the keratoconic eye because of their hard shape. Patients with keratoconus have an irregular cornea so using a rigid lens that rests on top of their irregular cornea creates a smooth surface. This provides them with clearer vision than soft contact lenses.  

RELATED: Keratoconus: What Is It & How Does It Impact Vision?

Hybrid contact lenses can be a great option for people with keratoconus

3) Hybrid contact lenses

These lenses have a hard center and soft surrounding skirt which usually makes them more comfortable than a standard rigid gas permeable lens.

Scleral contact lenses are usually the BEST option for people with keratoconus

4) Scleral contact lenses

These are hard contact lenses that rest on the white part of the eye and are significantly bigger than standard contact lenses. Their general appearance is in the shape of a tiny bowl that needs to be filled with preservative-free saline before being put on your eye. These lenses vault (or arch) over the irregular cornea to give you clearer vision than any soft contact lens or standard RGP option. 

Which option is best for you?

Depending on the severity of your keratoconus diagnosis, one lens may be a better option than another. Talk to your eye care provider to find out which contact lenses for keratoconus will work best for you.

Curious if you’re a candidate for one of these keratoconus solutions? What are you waiting for? Make sure to schedule an appointment with your local eye care professional today!

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Hi, my name is Jaclyn Garlich and I’m an optometrist practicing in Milwaukee, WI. I grew up in St. Louis, MO and I went to optometry school at the New England College of Optometry in Boston, MA. After optometry school, I did a residency in primary care and ocular diseases at the St. Louis VAMC. One thing I love about optometry is making my patients see better but, in particular, those patients with severe corneal dystrophies. I fit a lot of specialty contact lenses and I find it very rewarding to see a patient go from 20/200 vision to 20/20 vision. When I’m not practicing optometry I write an optometry newsletter called 20/20 Glance. It’s a once a week email delivered every Monday morning with a rundown of what’s new in optometry for the past week. It’s an easy way for the busy clinician to stay up-to-date.