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You can’t see and your eyes are on fire all the time. You can hardly sleep because of the pain. Your eyes are bloodshot -red and people are always asking you why you are blinking and squinting. You can hardly go outside even with the darkest sunglasses. But Georgia finally found relief from her pain and got good vision by being fitted with a modern day version of an old idea –scleral lenses.
Being able to see clearly and without pain is something that most of us take for granted. For the millions of Americans affected each year by poor vision, dry eye, light sensitivity and disabling eye pain it is only a cherished dream. Vision is the most valued of the senses. For many who suffer with impaired sight, vision is more valuable than longevity. Studies have shown that those with 20/40 – 20/50 vision would be willing to trade 19% of their lifetime for “normal” visual acuity; individuals with 20/200 – 20/400 vision would trade almost half of their lifetime to fully regain their sight.
Scleral Contact Lenses were actually the very first contact lenses – invented more than 100 years ago in the 1880’s. They were made out of blown glass but were for all practical purposes unwearable. Even an hour of wear was intolerable. Needless to say they were soon forgotten. In just the last decade new technology using new materials and new fitting techniques has made it possible to fit them successfully and comfortably. For someone like Georgia they are a godsend.
Scleral lenses often are the ideal and sometimes only treatment capable of restoring vision and dramatically reducing symptoms such as eye pain, dry eye, blurry vision and light sensitivity.
The most common causes of severe dry eye disease which may require scleral contact lenses are ocular chronic graft vs. host disease (GVHD), Sjogrens Syndrome, or a history of LASIK or other refractive surgery. Other conditions causing irregular corneals (keratoconus, corneal transplants, or eye injuries) also benefit from treatment with scleral lenses.
Georgia went to Boston and was fit with the Boston Scleral lens. It cost her $8,000 for the lenses and treatment plus transportation and housing costs for several days. Fortunately, it is not necessary to go to Boston anymore. There are a few eye doctors who specialize in fitting specialty contact lenses – we’re not talking “off- the- shelf” soft lenses or disposables – and who have the experience and equipment to do so that are able to achieve just as good results at considerable less expense.