Contact Lenses

City of Charlotte Senior Real Estate Project Manager Julie Millea — Patient for over 20 years

Contact Lenses including Keratoconus

Sometimes, patients need contact lenses that do a little more than typical (elective) lenses. Medically indicated and prosthetic contact lenses are custom-designed to meet your individual needs.

At Mecklenburg Eye Associates, our doctors and trained staff are with you every step of the way. Come see us at any of our three Charlotte Metropolitan area locations: On Randolph Road in Charlotte, in the UNCC university area, and in Rock Hill, South Carolina.

Dr. Lee Raykovicz is one of the top contact lens fitting specialists in the Metrolina region. A former director at the Contact Lens Clinic at Johns Hopkins, he is especially known for helping patients who need special contact lenses, such as for the conditions described below. To make an appointment with Dr. Raykovicz, just give us a call.

Patients choose contact lenses over glasses for a variety of reasons. Contacts allow more peripheral vision; with glasses, your frames might get in the way. Contact lenses can also be worn during sports or other activities where glasses are impractical. For example, you wouldn’t want to ride a roller coaster wearing your glasses! Colored contact lenses are also available.

Medically indicated contact lenses are often prescribed for people with keratoconus.

What is Keratoconus?

Keratoconus eye disease is a progressive eye disease that affects the cornea—the clear outer layer that helps protect the eye from dust, germs, and UV rays. The cornea also controls the way light enters the eye.

When a person has keratoconus, the cornea gradually becomes thinner. It also starts to bulge, eventually forming a cone-like shape. As a result, vision becomes distorted and blurry. Usually, this happens in both eyes. Scarring can develop as well.

Keratoconus Causes

Scientists aren’t sure what causes keratoconus. It is usually discovered when patients are in their teens or early twenties and is thought to affect about two or three out of 1,000 people. Keratoconus usually occurs in both eyes.

Keratoconus Symptoms

Because of the cone-shaped cornea, vision becomes blurry and distorted.

Keratoconus Treatment

At the beginning, keratoconus can usually be corrected with eyeglasses. But most patients eventually need special contact lenses that are fitted for the cone-shaped cornea.

Many patients with keratoconus wear rigid gas permeable lenses (RGPs) and find that they offer superior vision when compared to soft contact lenses or eye glasses. RGPs can take some getting used to, however.

Dr. Raykovicz has had extensive training in fitting contact lenses for patients with keratoconus. He can be seen at any of our three Charlotte metro locations.

More severe cases of keratoconus might require a corneal transplant.

Keratoconus Surgery

Corneal Transplant (Penetrating Keratoplasty)

As the name suggests, a corneal transplant involves replacing a patient’s cornea with another one, usually donated from a person who has recently passed away. While some people can clearly see after a corneal transplant, some still need some help from eyeglasses or contact lenses.

Corneal transplants may be done to treat keratoconus, eye injuries, scarring from infections, and rare complications from LASIK or cataract surgery.

Other Reasons Patients Choose Medically Indicated Contact Lenses

Refractive Surgery/LASIK Eye Surgery

Refractive surgery is often used to correct nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism, or presbyopia. LASIK (laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis) and PRK (photorefractive keratectomy) are two examples of refractive surgery.

While most patients have good results from refractive surgery (like LASIK surgery), not everyone does. Sometimes, the shape of the cornea changes or the eyes do not heal properly. Vision may still be blurry and glare can be a problem. A person may have trouble seeing at night, too. In those cases, medically necessary contact lenses, which are designed specifically for the new cornea shape, can help.

Scars and Injuries

While the cornea provides the eye with strong protection, it can still become scarred, scratched, or damaged. How might this happen?

  • Infections. Some eye infections—especially if they are left untreated—spread from the surface of the cornea to an inner layer (called the stroma) and lead to scarring. Usually, the deeper the infection spreads, the higher the risk of scarring. Viruses like herpes simplex can cause scarring, too.

  • Injuries. Eye injuries can happen during the most routine activities. You might be cutting back some shrubs when a branch flies in your face. Your lawn mower may send a stone your way. You might be playing with your child when his or her finger accidently pokes you in the eye. Or you might get hit in the eye with a ball while playing baseball or golf. Other events, like explosions and car accidents can send also foreign objects into your eyes.

  • Keratoconus. Discussed above, keratoconus is an eye disease that makes the cornea thinner, leading to a dome-like shape. Some patients with keratoconus develop scars.

Medically-indicated contact lenses can be designed to help you with your specific injury.

Dry Eyes

Dry eyes occur when the eyes cannot produce enough moisture on their own. For example, they may not be able to make tears. Or, the tears they do make are not sufficient for preserving moisture. Dry eyes may occur when a person has trouble blinking. Certain medications can cause dry eyes as well.

If you have dry eyes, you might try special contact lenses that keep the moisture in.

For general information about contact lenses, please click here.

Opaque Corneas

Some patients have opaque corneas. This means that the corneas are not clear and transparent. Instead, they are cloudy and difficult to see through. Many different conditions can cause opaque corneas, including inflammation, infections, dryness, eye injury, ulcers, and swelling. It’s also possible for a child to be born with opaque corneas.

Prosthetic Contact Lenses

Sometimes, a birth defect, eye injury, or illness changes the appearance of one or both eyes. If this has happened to you, it’s natural to feel a little self-conscious about it. We can design prosthetic contact lenses to resemble a healthy eye while correcting any vision problems you have.

Conditions treated with prosthetic contact lenses include the following:

  • Aniridia. The iris (colored portion of the eye) is partially or completely missing, leading to abnormalities in the pupils. Aniridia can be present at birth or caused by an injury.
  • Albinism. The eyes have no color.
  • Heterochromia. The iris are two different shades or two different colors.
  • Microphthalmos. One eye is smaller than the other.
  • Irregular pupils. The pupils are different sizes or shapes due to injuries or surgeries. They may also be off-center.

Scleral Contact Lenses

Scleral contact lenses are larger than standard varieties and designed for people with irregular corneas. For example, a patient with keratoconus might benefit from scleral contacts because the cornea takes on a cone-shape, which can make standard contact lenses hard to fit.

Instead of sitting on the cornea like other contacts, scleral lenses rest on the sclera—the white portion of the eye. Some patients find this more comfortable. Scleral contact lenses also “vault” over the eye, providing ample room for the cornea.

Scleral lenses can be helpful for people who have chronic dry eyes, as their design allows for more fluid to stay on the eyeball.

Scleral Lens Tutorial Video

Piggyback Contact Lenses

People who use piggyback contact lenses actually wear two lenses in each eye, so one "piggybacks" on the other. Usually, a rigid gas permeable (RGP) lens is worn over a soft contact lens. Patients often choose this option when RGP lenses become uncomfortable. The soft lens provides a buffer between the eyeball and the RGP lens.

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Our Locations

2015 Randolph Road
Suite 108
Charlotte, NC 28207
Tel: 704-334-2020
Fax: 704-334-6175
Optical Dept:704-333-3232
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8816 University East Drive
Suite C
Charlotte, NC 28213
Tel: 704-547-8730
Fax: 704-549-5565
Optical Dept:704-549-9999
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724 Arden Lane
Suite 120
Rock Hill, SC 29732
Tel: 803-324-4258
Fax: 803-324-2522
Optical Dept:803-324-1540
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