Posts Tagged ‘ClearKone’

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Cassidy’s Story – a Sharing Vision Grant Program Recipient

Friday, July 9th, 2010

Cassidy is one of the first recipients of the Sharing Vision Grant program, a program designed to provide the new hybrid contact lenses ClearKone® to patients who may otherwise not have access to this new contact lens technology.  Her story is below.


In year 2004, I was a recent high school graduate that was preparing to enter college during the fall. At the time I was wearing prescription glasses, my vision was fine and that was how I saw for most of my life. My vision was never particularly bad, but around the time I was introduced to the idea of PRK laser eye surgery. It was recommended to me and I welcomed it as a new change from glasses and a chance to improve my vision. I felt that it would help change my life for the better.

Four years had passed since then, I had graduated from college at the top of my class and my vision had sufficed well enough for me to do exceptional in school. It was however, during my senior in college that I noticed that my vision had changed. It was nothing drastic mind you, but it was a bit noticeable. All in all, I decided that it wasn’t too bad and so I paid it no mind. I was able to read, write, drive and function well enough. While I was at home from college, I had intended to study and prepare myself for medical school. But during the year that I had returned home, I noticed that my vision had taken a turn for the worse.

It started with just being unable to read from a distance to being unable to read up close. I had gone with soft lenses for a course of about five months. But they too had failed on me to the point where only my right eye was able to retain vision. I was shipped to various optometrists over the past year and each one was unable to fit me with a prescription. It was very upsetting to notice my vision beginning to deteriorate worse over a span of two months. I am unable to drive now. Everywhere I go I see afterimages and halos cast off of lights. But the worst feeling imaginable is being unable to distinguish my family’s faces and to see their expressions. I began to worry and think to myself, “How will I be able to focus in school if I am unable to see?” I have been told I have a prescription of 20/500 and I have all but given up hope of being able to see out of my left eye.

My mother had begun to worry whether or not if I would possibly go blind. She had set up and appointment with Dr. Gupta at UTMB. I was so surprised and amazed how she was able to fit me with a prescription! When I tried them on, I thought they would be like any other hard lenses that I had tried. It was the exact opposite! They were very comfortable and it was the first time I was able to see clearly in eight months and to see my father’s face. She had told me about the SynergEyes Sharing Vision Grant Program for ClearKone contact lenses. It was the most excitement I felt in a long time. I kept thinking that with these contact lenses I can continue to pursue my dreams of becoming a physician and giving back to the community. ClearKone lenses allow for a new change and impact my life for the better in ways I can not begin to imagine.

Common Keratoconus Questions

Friday, July 2nd, 2010

What is keratoconus?

Keratoconus is a degenerative eye disease that causes the cornea to thin and bulge, creating a cone-like irregular shape. Because the cornea is responsible for refracting most of the light that comes into the eye, any irregularity of the cornea can result in significant visual impairment.  Keratoconus most often appears in a person’s late teenage years; although it has been diagnosed in people in their forties and fifties. The eye disease has been estimated to occur in roughly one out of every 2,000 people in the general population. No significant geographical, gender, ethnic, or social pattern has been established, and keratoconus occurs in all parts of the world.

What causes keratoconus?

The exact cause of keratoconus is not known; however, there are many theories on what may trigger this disease. It is important to note that no one theory provides a complete explanation, and it is likely that keratoconus is caused by a combination of things.

It is believed that genetics, the environment, and the endocrine system all play a role in keratoconus:

Genetics: Although keratoconus sometimes affects more than one member of the same family, current research indicates that there is less than a one in ten chance that a blood relative of a keratoconic patient will have keratoconus.

Environmental Factors: Keratoconus may also be associated with overexposure to ultraviolet rays from the sun, excessive eye rubbing, a history of poorly fit contact lenses and chronic eye irritation.

Endocrine System: Another hypothesis is that the endocrine system (which dictates the release of hormones) may be involved, since keratoconus is often first diagnosed in adolescence.

What are the symptoms of keratoconus?

Blurred and distorted vision and frequent eyeglass prescription changes are the first signs of keratoconus. However, blurred and distorted vision occurs as a result of many other types of eye disease, so it is important to visit an experienced eye care professional for diagnosis immediately when noticing any changes in vision. Typically keratoconus occurs in both eyes with one eye more severe than the other. Additional symptoms of keratoconus include:

  • Increased light sensitivity
  • Difficulty driving at night
  • Halo’s and ghosting (especially at night)
  • Eye strain
  • Headaches and general eye pain
  • Eye irritation and excessive eye rubbing

How is keratoconus treated?

Keratoconus is primarily treated with contact lenses because glasses cannot to visually correct the irregular form of the cornea. Surgical treatment options are also available and are typically used when contact lens wear is no longer possible.

Contact Lens Treatment Options

Hybrid Contact Lenses

Hybrid contact lenses are the latest and most advanced option available in contact lenses specifically designed for keratoconus and irregular cornea patients. Using a revolutionary technology, hybrids combine the best of both worlds – the crisp vision of a high-oxygen rigid gas permeable (RGP) contact lens with the all-day comfort and convenience of a soft lens. Hybrids are specifically designed to restore vision to patients with the many types and stages of keratoconus. Because the lens design vaults over the cornea, there’s minimal risk of corneal scarring, making hybrid lenses a healthy treatment option for keratoconus. In addition, the soft skirt of the hybrid design helps to center the contact lens over the visual axis regardless of where the cone is located on the cornea or how large it is, thereby decreasing visual distortions and providing superior vision. The hybrid design also prevents dirt from getting under the lens and will not pop out unexpectedly. No other contact lens available today can provide all of these benefits in a single product.

Rigid Gas Permeable (GSP) Lenses

RGP lenses are made from a rigid material that does not drape over the irregularly shaped cornea, but rather, holds its shape and creates a layer of tears between the cornea and the back surface of the lens. This tear layer neutralizes the irregular shape of the cornea. Consequently, RGPs provide better vision than soft lenses. Unfortunately, for those with keratoconus, RGPs may not provide adequate vision correction. This is because RGP lenses tend to migrate toward the location of the cone, which is usually not on the visual axis, which is near the center of the cornea. For this reason, patients who wear RGPs typically experience problems with inconsistent vision. Furthermore, RGPs are often uncomfortable, inconvenient, allow dirt to be trapped under the lens and may pop out. They can also lead to corneal scarring because they are commonly designed to fit touching the surface of the cone.

Scleral Lenses

Scleral lenses are very large RGP lenses that can provide adequate vision but often require very precise and skilled fitting by your eye care professional. Sclerals occasionally have to be removed and reinserted with fresh saline during the day to keep your vision clear and comfortable.

Soft Contact Lenses

Soft contact lenses are comfortable but are usually unable to visually normalize the irregularities of the keratoconic cornea and therefore do not provide acceptable vision. Soft lenses drape over the irregular corneal surface causing the surface of the lens to assume the same irregular shape as the cornea. This abnormal shape is the reason for blurred and distorted vision. As the cornea becomes more irregular, soft lenses become less effective.

Piggyback Lenses

“Piggyback” lenses are RGP’s and soft lenses that are worn at the same time. In some cases, this approach may be more successful than soft or RGP lenses alone, but because of the complexities of handling and care, possible eye health problems due to the decrease in oxygen able to move to the cornea through both lenses, and difficulty with lens centration, success rates are marginal.

Surgical Treatment Options

Patients with keratoconus often ask “Can I have surgery to correct my keratoconus?” There are surgical options that are designed to strengthen, reshape or replace the irregular surface of a keratoconic cornea, and perhaps lessen the impact of keratoconus, but unfortunately none will reverse the progression that has taken place.

The most common surgical treatment options for keratoconus are: Intacs®, corneal collagen crosslinking, corneal transplant or some combination of these procedures.


Intacs are semi-circular plastic implants that are inserted into the middle of the cornea. The intent is to re-shape the cornea to a more normal shape to improve vision. Commonly Intacs do not leave the cornea completely regular in shape, and contacts are still needed for further correction. Intacs are used to improve the patient’s vision, and possibly delay or eliminate the need for a corneal transplant.

Corneal Collagen Cross-linking (CXL)

A new treatment option called corneal collagen cross-linking (CXL) is currently undergoing FDA clinical trials in the United States to determine its safety. With the corneal crosslinking procedure, custom-made riboflavin drops saturate the cornea, which is then activated by ultraviolet-A light. This process has been shown in laboratory and clinical studies to increase the amount of collagen cross-linking and strengthen the cornea

Corneal Transplant

A corneal transplant is a surgery in which a plug of approximately 7.5mm–including the steepest, most irregular part of the cornea–is removed and replaced with corneal tissue from a donor eye. The transplanted tissue is then sutured into place. Lamellar Keratoplasty is a relatively new technique which involves removal of only a partial thickness of the cornea. The theoretical advantage is a lower risk of rejection because the major target for corneal rejection is not transplanted. The resulting cornea is generally flatter and smoother than before, but most often there are still irregularities that are best corrected by a contact lens.

What is a hybrid contact lens?

Hybrid contact lenses are an advanced contact lens option specifically designed for keratoconus and irregular cornea patients. The center of the lens is an RGP and it is surrounded by a soft lens material.



Remember when you had only two choices in contact lenses? “Hard” (RGP) lenses provided GOOD vision, but were often irritating and uncomfortable. Soft lenses offered GOOD comfort, but couldn’t correct your vision problems. Now, a technological breakthrough makes having to compromise a thing of the past. Hybrid contact lenses offer all the benefits of RGP and soft contact lenses without any of the disadvantages for an overall GREAT contact lens experience. Using a revolutionary technology, hybrids combine the best of both worlds – the crisp vision of a high-oxygen rigid gas permeable (RGP) contact lens with the all-day comfort and convenience of a soft lens. Hybrids are specifically designed to restore vision to patients with the many types and stages of keratoconus. Because the lens design vaults over the cornea, there’s minimal risk of corneal scarring, making hybrid lenses a healthy treatment option for keratoconus. In addition, the soft skirt of the hybrid design centers the contact lens more closely over the visual axis regardless of where the cone is located on the cornea or how large it is, decreasing visual distortions and providing superior vision. The hybrid design also prevents dirt from getting under the lens and will not pop out. No other contact lens available today can provide all of these benefits in a single product.

The History of Hybrid Lens Technology

Thursday, July 1st, 2010

Patient excitement for a contact lens is created when the first lens placed on the eye provides good vision and feels great.  Success in contact lens wear depends upon the patient achieving their vision, comfort and eye health goals. At one time patients could only choose between rigid gas permeable lenses (RGPs) and soft lenses so patients often had to compromise on either vision or comfort. Today there is another technology option available called the hybrid contact lens. A hybrid contact lens combines the superior vision benefits of an RGP lens with the comfort benefits of a soft lens.  Hybrid lenses have come a long way since they were conceived in 1977.  Now in the 4th generation, the hybrid lens category has evolved to offer patients with all types of vision problems an opportunity to experience the benefits a hybrid contact lenses offers.

Hybrid Lenses – How they started.

The quest to develop a contact lenses that provides the opportunity for crisp vision and unparalleled comfort began in 1970 with the experimentation of placing a RGP lens on top of a soft lens known as a “piggyback system”. By using this piggyback combination, comfort was improved over RGP lenses and the quality of vision improved from soft lenses. The added benefits of good centration and increased lens stability on irregular corneas created a lens design used for the more complicated cases. The disadvantage of a “piggyback” system is the inconvenience of managing the four separate lenses. Also, on already compromised eyes the lack of oxygen and the possible adverse events of corneal swelling and blood vessel growth can be an issues with piggybacking lenses and always requires additional doctor follow up visits.  It seems reasonable if we could create a single contact lens with the advantages of both RGP and soft lenses, all the disadvantages of contact lenses would be solved. This was the first step in creating the revolutionary hybrid contact lens.

Two scientists named Erikson and Neogi had the idea that a combination lens with a hard center and soft skirt could be developed.  They patented technology that made this possible and that technology was acquired by a company called Precision Cosmet in 1977. This first “hybrid” design was known as the Saturn® lens. The idea behind this hybrid contact lens concept was to improve the performance and comfort of an RGP contact lens for irregular corneas.

In March of 1982, a pre-market investigation took place and the Saturn® lens was granted approval by the FDA in April of 1984.  With minimal customizable options and low oxygen permeability, the Saturn® lens was relegated to a problem solving lens.  Saturn lenses typically exhibited very little movement, called “tight lens syndrome” resulting in red eyes and problems of night time glare.

In 1986, a company called Sola Barnes-Hind then purchased the hybrid contact lens concept and technology and set forth to redesign the lens to address the performance issues. They named the product SoftPerm®. The SoftPerm® lens, was made out of the same material as the Saturn lens.  It had the advantage of improved comfort and additional parameters to properly fit patients. However, because the lens had low oxygen permeability and issues with the center separating from the soft skirt, the lens was still only used as a lens of last resort. A third redesign in 1989 by Sola Barnes-hind created the new SoftPerm lens but this design also suffered from its low oxygen permeability, and practitioners were still hesitant to accept it as a lens of first choice because of feared complications. Problems associated with lens sticking to the cornea and acute red eye problems further inhibited the use of these lenses.  The SoftPerm lens was discontinued in 2010.

Today, a company called SynergEyes is the only company successfully making hybrid contact lenses.

Read “Current Hybrid Lenses Technology”

Eye Doctor Testimonials

Thursday, July 1st, 2010

“The ClearKone® lens has revolutionized the way we fit patients with keratoconus. It represents “a quantum leap” improvement. Patients are ecstatic with the quick fitting process that results in a comfortable fit and excellent vision.”

– Robert L. Gordon, O.D.

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