Prosthetic soft contact lenses are used all the time in Hollywood to change the look of an actor’s eyes. Depending on the genre, you’ll see contact lenses that make perfectly normal, healthy eyes appear blind, scarred or supernatural.
Many people don’t realize that prosthetic soft contact lenses can also do the opposite: cover up real scars and other disfigurements and defects of the eye to improve its appearance. The lenses also offer a therapeutic solution for some eye conditions.
What Are Prosthetic Soft Contact Lenses?
Prosthetic soft contact lenses are a type of lens specifically designed to cover up the scarred, damaged or otherwise disfigured surface of an intact eye. This can be for purely cosmetic purposes, therapeutic purposes or both.
Depending on the purpose of the contact lenses, and the extent of scarring or damage, there are several types of lenses that your eye doctor may recommend.
Various colored lens designs can help cover up the defects in the eye. In most cases, the color of the contact lens can be made to match that of the healthy eye. Prosthetic contact lenses come in three broad categories:
- Standard Opaque. These are the most cost-effective cosmetic prosthetic lenses, as they are the most widely produced. They offer a wide selection of base curves, eye diameters, pupil sizes and prescriptions. In some cases, multiple opaque lenses can be combined to more exactly match the eye color of a patient’s healthy eye. However, these types of lenses may not fit everyone, as they’re generally computer-generated, and not customizable.
- Transparent Tinting. These are customizable translucent contact lenses, with slight tinting to complement and enhance the existing color of the iris. These work best with patients who have darker eye colors since light eye colors don’t show through as well.
- Custom Hand-Painted. These lenses are fully customizable. Your eye doctor will send a picture of your healthy eye to the lab where the lens is being produced. The lab technicians will hand paint an exact match onto a blank contact lens. This option produces the closest match to your healthy eye but is also the most expensive and least reproducible as a result of the labor-intensive way the lens is produced.
Vision and ocular issues can sometimes result from congenital defects, disease or an injury sustained to the head or directly to the eye. In these cases, prosthetic contact lenses can be helpful in improving vision in the affected eye, as well as enhancing its cosmetic appearance. Some of the eye conditions these lenses can address:
- Light Sensitivity. In a healthy eye, the pupil constricts and expands to control the amount of light entering the eye, depending on the amount of light in the environment. Some eye conditions and injuries can result in the pupil losing the ability to change its size, causing too much light to enter the eye in situations when the pupil would normally constrict to limit incoming light. This can be highly uncomfortable and even damaging to the eye due to excessive harmful UV rays entering the eye. Prosthetic contact lenses with a smaller opening for the pupil can help block some of this incoming light, minimizing or eliminating light sensitivity. Certain tinted lenses can also provide an effect similar to sunglasses to accomplish the same results.
- Double Vision. Conditions and injuries that cause the eyes to lose the ability to move and focus in unison can create a situation where a person has chronic double vision. This affects daily functioning and can regularly cause severe headaches and nausea. One often-effective solution is to block the weaker eye so that the brain is only receiving a single image, alleviating double vision. Many people would prefer not to do this with an eye patch, which is conspicuous and intrusive. A better solution for these people may be a prosthetic lens with a completely opaque pupil. The rest of the lens is created to look just like the healthy eye.
- Color Blindness. Color blindness affects as many as 1 in 12 males, and 300 million people worldwide. This is due to a deficiency in the retinal nerve cells of your eye that are responsible for light and color reception. In the same way that sunglasses with certain tints can cause some colors to seem more vivid than others, prosthetic contact lenses with certain color tints can help accent targeted colors, to help minimize or eliminate the impact of color blindness.
If you have a condition or injury that has left your eye disfigured or decreased the quality of your vision, prosthetic soft contact lenses may be a good solution for you. Speak to our eye doctors at in to learn more about how we can help.
At Yesnick Vision Center, we put your family's needs first. Talk to us about how we can help you maintain healthy vision. Call us today: 702-500-0525 or book an appointment online to see one of our Las Vegas eye doctors.
Want to Learn More? Read on!
How are prosthetic contact lenses prescribed?
Fitting your eye with a prosthetic contact lens begins with a standard comprehensive eye exam. Your eye doctor will take a thorough look at your eyes to check for conditions that might make it difficult for you to wear prosthetic lenses.
If your eye doctor believes you are a good candidate for prosthetic contact lenses, they will perform a comprehensive contact lens examination and a contact lens fitting. Along with the contact lens exam and fitting, your eye doctor will take close-up color photographs of your eyes to help match your prosthetic lens to the natural eye color and appearance of your healthy eye.
How long do prosthetic contact lenses last?
Prosthetic contact lenses are created to last for roughly 12 months. Hand-painted and tinted contact lenses will fade over the course of the year. Although computer-generated lenses are less likely to fade, you should still plan on replacing them on the same 12-month schedule.
Ask your eye doctor about proper care, including what contact solutions should be used for cleaning and storage. This is crucial, as improper care and the use of inappropriate contact solutions can significantly shorten the length of time that the prosthetic lenses last.