Click Here for a related article published by Dr. Boshnick in Refractive Eyecare
The cornea is the eyes outermost layer. It is the clear dome-shaped surface that covers the front of the eye. Although the cornea is clear and seems to lack substance, it actually is a highly organized group of cells and proteins. Unlike other tissues in the body, the cornea contains no blood vessels to nourish or protect it against infection.
Instead, the cornea receives its nourishment from the tears and aqueous humor that fills the chamber behind it. The cornea must remain transparent to refract light properly, and the presence of even the tiniest blood vessels can interfere with this process. To see well, all layers of the cornea must be free of any cloudy or opaque areas.
It is estimated that there are over 5 millions Americans who have lost quality vision due to ocular trauma and various corneal conditions. Some of the corneal conditions which have resulted in vision loss and ocular discomfort include: keratoconus, pellucid marginal degeneration, post-refractive surgeries such as lasik-induced ectasia, corneal ulcerations, severe dry eye, various corneal dystrophies, Stevens-Johnson Syndrome, shingles, ocular herpes and corneal transplant surgery.
Many of the above conditions have left patients with corneas so severely distorted, that eyeglasses or conventional soft or hard contact lenses are unable to restore quality vision and comfort. In addition to these corneal distortions, many patients have corneas that are so dry and/or traumatized that they are unable to open their eyes due to lights and other irritants.
At the present time, there are several contact lens manufacturers in North America, Europe and Australia working to introduce specialty lenses and materials to address many of the above conditions. In addition work is now being done utilizing stem cells to promote healing and restore healthy ocular tissue.
For many years, our office has been dedicated to this mission; that is to assist patients with many debilitating ocular conditions regain quality vision in a non-invasive manner. Our office has become the largest scleral lens practice in North America. Scleral lenses are specialty lenses that very often are therapeutic in nature. These are large gas permeable lenses that we use to restore health, vision and comfort to patients suffering from the above conditions. Scleral lenses vault over the cornea without touching it. The lenses are supported by the white portion of the eye (the sclera). A special fluid fills the space between the back portion of the lens and the front of the cornea. This liquid environment actually promotes corneal healing. Because of this, scleral lenses are medically necessary to treat the conditions mentioned above.