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Specialty Contact Lenses: Options, Uses, and Benefits in 2018.

Contact lenses are a great vision correction option for many people but are not one-size-fits-all.  This is especially true if you are over 40 or have a medical condition which changes the shape of your cornea or requires special tinting for comfortable vision.  In these cases, specialty contacts are not only preferable, they’re necessary.  The doctors at Farmington Vision Care fit several different types of specialty contacts. Continue reading to see some of the different types we can offer.  


Multi-focal Contacts 

Presbyopia is the term given to people who are over 40-years old and have a reduced up-close focusing ability.  If you’re in this category, you may have realized that your arms eventually aren’t long enough to hold things where you can have clear, comfortable vision.  Many people don’t know that you don’t have to give up contact lenses in favor of bifocal glasses or start throwing reading glasses over your contacts to fix this.  Bifocal segmented contacts and multi-focal (simultaneous vision) contacts are available for most prescriptions. 

Segmented contacts are very much like your bifocal glasses with a line that bisects the lens with the top of the contact used for distance vision and the bottom for reading.  This design is better suited for gas-permeable (GP) contact lenses as it relies on the eyelid-to-contact interaction for optimal vision.  The idea is that when you look down, the contact does not move with your eye but rests on your lower eyelid.  Therefore, it will move up on your cornea allowing you to view through the reading portion of the lens. 

More popular are the simultaneous vision or multi-focal contacts which are available as GP or soft contacts in daily, two-week, or monthly disposable.  These contacts have distance, intermediate (like your computer), and near powers in concentric rings throughout the entirety of the lens.  Most people who have successfully worn soft contacts prior to presbyopia will transition to soft multi-focal contacts instead of segmented or multi-focal GP contacts. These contacts move with your eye and your brain and eye determine the optimal part of the lens to view for the best vision at each distance.  Just like with glasses, there is an adaptation period for your system to adjust and learn how to use these contacts. 

Talk to your doctor about which options are best for your visual demands. 


Scleral Lenses 

Scleral lenses are larger diameter contacts that rest on the sclera (the white part of your eye) instead of on the cornea.  The sclera is less sensitive than the cornea which makes these contacts incredibly comfortable (even more so than many soft lenses) despite their size.  Additionally, because the contact does not move with your eye, the vision remains stable with eye movement and blink. And because the contact vaults your cornea and is filled with preservative-free saline, it holds a large tear reservoir constantly on the eye allowing a smoother tear surface for better vision (especially in irregularly shaped corneas) and doesn’t dry out like other contacts because it keeps your eye constantly bathed in saline.  Sclera lenses are full of benefits including stabilization of vision, better comfort, and improved vision and optics in irregular corneas.  

These contacts are most often used in eyes that cannot wear a traditional contact and in conditions where the shape and optics of the cornea do not allow improved vision in glasses or other contact options.  These conditions include but are not limited to:  keratoconus, post-surgical eyes (corneal transplant-PK), pellucid marginal degeneration, pterygium, pathological dry eyes such as Sjogren’s syndrome, graft-versus-host disease, Stevens-Johnson Syndrome, or incomplete lid closure, and other irregular corneal surfaces including resulting from trauma.  

Have a condition that you thought disqualified you from contact lens wear? Give us a call at 573-756-5665 to schedule a specialty contact lens evaluation with one of our doctors. 


Color Vision Enhancing 

Color vision deficiencies or color vision anomalies affect approximately 1 in 12 men and 1 in 200 women.  Most commonly is red-green confusion but blue-yellow also occurs.  These color vision problems are based on a genetic change which causes the color-receptive sensors (the cones) in the eye to send back similar signals to the brain or “fire” the same message back when viewing different colors.  These signals then overlap in the color perceptive area of the brain making it difficult for the person to differentiate the two.  Contacts have now been designed to filter out certain wave-lengths of colors so that the cones fire differently and the color perceptive parts of the brain do not overlap for these different colors.  These contacts do not work for all color vision problems or all patients but your doctor can evaluate if your eye has the potential to adapt to the color vision enhancing contacts.  For patients that these contacts do work for, a whole new world of vivid contrast is provided. 

Color vision testing is included in your comprehensive eye examination. If you would like to consider trying color vision enhancing lenses, let us know during your appointment so you can be further assessed for candidacy.



Most people think of color contacts or theatrical/Halloween contacts when the term cosmetic contacts is used.  It is true that both of these contacts fall under this category and we are happy to help you find the best and healthiest fit for your eyes with either option. However, cosmetic contacts encompass so many other types of contacts including those for patients with medical conditions that would like a contact to change the appearance of their eye to make it match the other eye or who require contacts for light sensitivity or anatomical changes.  Patients with conditions such as aniridia (absence of iris), albinism, traumatic iris atrophy, or heterochromia (two different color eyes) can all benefit from cosmetic contacts.   

Specialty contacts can address many types of medical and visual conditions when other corrective options fail or are not ideal.  The doctors at Farmington Vision Care want to maximize your vision and provide all available options to do so. Call us today to schedule an evaluation at 573-756-5665.


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