Hybrid contact lenses combine the properties of a gas permeable center and a soft silicone hydrogel outer skirt. It provides the visual acuity of RGP lenses along with the comfort of soft contact lenses. The effect is a clearer, crisp and sharper vision and more comfort than rigid gas permeable contact lenses or soft contact lenses. Hybrid contact lenses are the latest and most advanced. They are a specialized form of contact lenses for individuals who find RGP lenses uncomfortable.
Currently (when this article was written), there are two Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved brands:
- Ultrahealth hybrid contact lenses - They are the newest and latest technology. Ultrahealth eliminate the problem of dust and debris entering the eye. Lenses also stay in position and do not dislodge. They are ideal for patients with keratoconus and other corneal-shape related conditions.
- Duette HD - These are available in both single vision and multifocal designs. That means individuals with presbyopia can use them comfortably.
Indications and Selection Criteria
Hybrid contact lenses are ideal in certain circumstances. They also aim to provide clearer vision in certain conditions. These include:
- Keratoconus - A corneal disease in which the cornea is irregularly shaped. Due to unknown or hereditary factors, the cornea starts thinning during puberty, leading to a serious distortion of vision. Individuals prefer hybrid lenses because they offer more comfort than rigid gas permeable lenses. They can restore vision in patients at different stages of keratoconus. Regular glasses or soft contact lenses are not strong enough to reshape the cornea for clearer vision.
- Astigmatism - In astigmatism, the cornea is shaped irregularly causing blurry or distorted images. Hybrid contact lenses are the best choice for people with astigmatism. This is due to their dual nature of providing comfort and a crisp vision.
- Presbyopia - A refractive error where the lens start to lose focusing ability due to age. This may lead to loss of near vision. Individuals with presbyopia start having trouble with activities such as threading a needle. Presbyopia is often treated using bifocal, trifocal or progressive lenses. Hybrid contact lenses can be fitted with numerous bifocal and trifocal designs.
- Individuals who have had corneal trauma or undergone a corneal transplant may need hybrid contact lenses to enhance vision. Those who have suffered from any corneal distortion are likely candidates for hybrid contact lenses too.
- Refractive surgery patients who may not be happy with the results of refractive surgery can use custom-made hybrid contact lenses to enhance vision.
- Sports people can benefit significantly from hybrid contact lenses due to the properties of hybrid lenses. Such individuals will not be hindered by movable contact lenses or distractions caused by having debris in the eye.
- Individuals using soft toric contact lenses but are unable to achieve the same level of clarity as with their spectacles. These people may sometimes complain that their vision is fluctuating time and again while using soft toric lenses.
Hybrid contact lenses carry several benefits such as:
- Hybrid contact lenses do not dehydrate thus offering lasting comfort.
- The lenses are easier to handle since they can be cleaned and disinfected easily.
- Hybrid contact lenses are custom-made to everyone’s eyes. This assures the individuals of comfort.
- The absence of water in hybrid contact lenses means they do not harbor deposits or bacteria.
- Hybrid contact lenses keep their shape better than soft contact lenses hence providing a sharp and consistent vision.
- The cost of hybrid contact lenses is comparable to that of soft contact lenses because they don’t need replacing as often as soft contact lenses. They last longer than soft contact lenses.
- They have a double advantage of sharp vision and comfort. The central zone of the lens is made of a rigid gas permeable material while the surrounding area consists of material from silicone hydrogel.
- Hybrid contact lenses are more abundant in diameter than RGP lenses. This gives them the advantage of a thin edge. Consequently, the lenses are less likely to dislodge from the eye during activities like sports.
There are several limitations associated with contact lenses which include:
- They may not work with people with lenticular astigmatism. Hybrid contact lenses only work with those who have corneal astigmatism.
- It takes a long time for a diagnostic fitting which also increases the price of the lenses.
- They require a degree of training and education on their use. Ultimately, they need to be handled well for optimal vision.
- It is possible that the hybrid lenses may eventually flatten the cornea even if the lens has a perfect fit.