In patients with the eye disease keratoconus, Marsack said, the cornea thins and bulges forward, reducing its ability to focus light.
"Let's say at night you're on the road, and you're looking at a stoplight. That light, for the most part, is fairly well formed. Keratoconus subjects who have highly aberrated eyes may perceive that same spot with a huge flare shooting through it; the stoplight simply is not well focused by the optics of the eye, which leads to blur," Marsack said.
In later stages of the disease, a corneal transplant may be a keratoconus patient's only chance for acceptable vision if he or she can't tolerate wearing rigid contact lenses, said Marsack.
Patients involved in earlier stages of the study already have had dramatic results with their custom lenses.
"We had one patient who went to the window, and there's a set of power lines out in the distance. He is amazed at his ability to resolve the power lines," Marsack said.
Applegate said he was not surprised by that patient's reaction and that he believes demand for custom lenses likely is widespread.
Ultimately, Applegate said, the team would like to see custom lenses become the standard of care, and he emphasizes that the College of Optometry is uniquely positioned to determine how best to serve the needs of patients with highly aberrated optics.
"We're not only recruiting our patients from the University Eye Institute downstairs and quantifying the optical properties we need. We're also building and evaluating the lenses," Marsack said.
Applegate is optimistic their research will help determine a set of best practices and drive down costs.
"Could we fit 60 percent by making a batch of lenses that look like this?" Marsack asked, holding up a freshl
|Contact: Angela Hopp|
University of Houston