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Can the use of scleral lenses help avoid a future corneal transplant?

Recent research suggests… Yes.

At an international meeting of contact lens experts, Dr. Carina Koppen, MD, PhD (left) of Belgium discussed her research and a recent paper published in the American Journal of Ophthalmology (1). As a keratoconus expert and chief of ophthalmology at Antwerp University, she is trained in both the surgical and medical management of KC. She was interested to learn if a decline in rates of corneal transplantation could be traced to the increased use of scleral lenses.

Corneal TransplantFrom a clinic population of close to 850 patients with keratoconus, Dr. Koppen selected patients with extremely severe KC for her study. She would offer the patients scleral lenses to see if they could achieve useful vision and avoid transplant surgery. To identify these patients, she used a Scheimpflug tomography to measure the corneal curvature (maximal keratometry or max K): the higher the K reading, the more severe the astigmatism. While each doctor has their own range of how they classify KC, for general purposes, normal eyes, or those with very mild keratoconus will have a K reading below 45 diopters; moderate KC is usually defined as the range between 46 and 52; and severe or advanced keratoconus are K readings above 52 diopters. The patients she she enrolled in her study all had K reading¬†‚Č• 70. By all accounts, these eyes would be defined as advanced or extreme cases of keratoconus. Click here to continue….