If you’re reading this article, odds are your eye doctor said you’re not a candidate for contact lenses. But what exactly does that mean? Are your eyes too hard to fit? Do you require specialty contact lenses that take more time and expertise to get right? Or, are you unable to wear contacts at all due to circumstances you can’t control?
Regardless of your situation, we’re here to set the record straight! Let’s start with the basics.
RELATED: Scleral Contact Lenses: What You Need To Know
Are you a candidate for wearing contact lenses?
Honestly, it depends! At Northlake Eye, our doctors have experience fitting people of all ages with contacts.
For kids and teenagers, we find motivation and parental support is a huge factor in their success. For young adults and adults, we’ve identified fear, poor hygiene, dryness and eye diseases as the greatest obstacles to success. Fortunately for you, we can overcome most of these factors and fit almost anyone with contact lenses.
For example, if your child wants to wear contacts, but is scared to do so, our team can train them on how to safely put them in and take them out of their eyes. On the other hand, if you have dry eyes and a history of discomfort in contact lenses, our doctors can manage your dry eye disease and fit you with lenses designed for maximum comfort.
What are specialty contact lenses?
Hard-to-fit contacts vary in difficulty and essentially anything other than soft, spherical lenses for nearsightedness or farsightedness. For example, if you have presbyopia (i.e. difficulty seeing to read), our doctors would likely fit you in multifocal or monovision contacts. With higher success rates, both of these lens options are easier to fit than scleral, RGP and hybrid contacts.
On the other hand, if you have keratoconus or dry eye, our doctors would likely recommend a scleral, RGP or hybrid contact lens. These lenses are much more challenging to fit but are by far the best option for those who corneal irregularities.
Who needs hard-to-fit contact lenses?
While almost anyone can be fit in specialty contacts, they’re mostly reserved for the following:
High prescriptions (nearsighted, farsighted)
Irregular corneas (i.e. injury, post transplant)
Severe dry eye disease (often from sjogren’s syndrome)
Post refractive surgery (i.e. LASIK, PRK, RK)
Corneal ectasias (i.e. keratoconus, pellucid marginal degeneration)
How much do specialty contact lenses cost?
Honestly, this really depends on the type of contact lens you need.
For example, if you’re fit with soft contact lenses for astigmatism or presbyopia, the most you’ll pay at our office is $85 (as well as a small fee for insertion and removal training if you are a first time wearer).
Conversely, hard specialty fits vary in price and can cost you anywhere from $280 to $2000.
Keep in mind, both of these examples are BEFORE adjusting for any insurance coverage (see below).
Does insurance cover hard-to-fit contacts?
The short answer is YES!
In fact, many vision and medical insurances will cover your specialty contact lens fitting and materials. With this in mind, coverage is obviously insurance dependent and is something our eye care team can investigate for you! Click here to see a list of insurances we accept.
Types of specialty contact lenses
Soft toric (astigmatism)
While fairly mainstream, soft contact lenses for astigmatism are not a one size fits all option. When fitting you with these lenses, our doctors taking into consideration your prescription, the unique curvature of your cornea, and daily activities to prescribe you contacts that are custom to your eyes.
Soft multifocal and monovision (for presbyopia)
Soft multifocal contact lenses have come a long way over the past 5 - 10 years! Our doctors are trained to fit you with the newest technology multifocal lenses. If you’re unsure of these lenses or have had trouble adjusting, we’re happy to troubleshoot any issues you’re facing as well as review alternative options.
Speaking of alternate options, monovision contact lens fits are definitely one of them. In fact, monovision is where your dominant eye is corrected to see in the distance and your non-dominant eye is corrected to see up close. If this sounds confusing to you, that’s probably because it is! However, your brain is a powerful organ that is capable of adapting to monovision signals to provide you with functional vision up close and in the distance.
Between multifocal and monovision, our doctors are very successful at fitting presbyopic patients with contact lenses that meet their lifestyle.
Rigid Gas Permeable (RGP)
Rigid gas permeable contact lenses, also known as RGPs or GPs, are a type of hard contact lens that does an excellent job allowing oxygen to the front of your eye. They are easy to clean and last significantly longer than soft disposable contact lenses. Also, they vary in size and designs, providing our doctors with a lot of options!
One downside of RGPs is, since they are rigid in shape and sit directly on your cornea, they tend to take longer to get used to than other types of contacts. Overall, RGPs are great for anyone who has strict visual demands or has a corneal disease that doesn’t allow them to wear soft contact lenses.