FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – According to the National Institutes of Health, 14 million Americans over the age of 12 have some form of vision impairment.
While the majority of these cases can be corrected with standard glasses and contacts, those options don’t help people with more complicated vision issues.
Fortunately, eye specialists are now expanding the use of a customized approach for these patients, giving them the ability to see again.
Around the age of 12, Brendan O’Donnell started wearing glasses, then contacts, for basic vision correction.
“And then when I was 23 I was diagnosed with Keratoconus,” O’Donnell said.
It’s a condition that alters the shape of the eye."
What happens with the eye is it becomes conical or cone shaped so the eye will continue to steepen in a cone-like pattern and begin to thin and eventually in the end stages it starts to break down," said Dr. Jack Bascome, an Optometrist with Broward Eye Care.
Standard glasses and contacts are ineffective in restoring vision but Bascome is now able to help patients with a custom-molded scleral lens.
“We’re able to, exactly down to one or two micron level of specificity, to make this perfect to the eye shape,” Bascome said.
The process of putting the lens in the eye requires a special device that looks like a mini-plunger.
“You have to fill the lens with a liquid and then you insert the contact with the plunger,” O’Donnell said.
These custom molded lenses can also help people with vision loss caused by scarring, trauma to the eye and severe astigmatism.
“We have tons of people that will actually cry in our office after we’ve fitted them with these lenses. It’s a life changing thing and that one of the things I love about it because we can actually make a significant improvement on someone’s life and vision,” Bascome said.
O’Donnell concurs. “It’s changed things full circle and the vision is great now so I couldn’t be happier,” he said.
These special lenses can cost several thousand dollars but much of that cost can be off-set as medically necessary under vision insurance plans. The lenses typically need to replaced annually.