A haptic lens is an artificial eye which is worn when the real eye has not been removed. It is also called a scleral lens or scleral shell.
Children born with micro-ophthalmia (the eye is small because it did not develop fully in utero) are usually good candidates for the haptic lens. This is because the eye does not need to be surgically removed.
Similarly, someone who has sustained an injury to their eye does not necessarily have to have it removed. But a prosthesis of some kind is required due to the consequences of the injury and the eye’s appearance.
In both cases, a haptic lens sits over the injured or underdeveloped eye.
The benefits are wide-ranging.
The most obvious one is that the haptic lens gives the wearer a natural-looking eye. Secondly, it helps to fill out the eye socket. And this is a benefit in itself, as it ensures the even development of facial features.
All in all, it improves appearance, and we all know how important that is.
A child with a malformed eye and distorted facial features can be ignored or stared at. Then in school, he or she can become a victim of cruel teasing. And all this can be damaging on the child’s well-being.
The haptic lens, which gives the appearance of two natural-looking eyes, prevents these social barriers.
But it hasn’t always been a popular option amongst ophthalmologists.
In the not too distant past, parents were advised to wait a few years before having a lens fitted.
Now though, the attitude is changing. We’re seeing more babies through our clinic who have been referred for haptic lenses. The youngest to date has been six months old.
So why the change?
Probably it’s because of the easy access to information via the internet. More parents are discovering what is possible for their child and encouraging the Ophthalmologists into earlier intervention. Also over the past few years, ocularists have become more competent in making and fitting haptic lenses.
In saying all this, we need to emphasise that not everyone can tolerate a haptic lens. Some eye sockets are just too sensitive. If you believe you may be a good candidate for a haptic lens then consult your local ocularist or ophthalmologist. The lens is a couple of millimeters thick.