Contact lenses are worn by many people and can offer a great option for correcting vision. For people with keratoconus however, contact lens are often rigid and with irregular shape of the eye can reduce patient quality of life.

We’re funding an innovation grant harnessing advanced imaging technology and clinical data to improve the fitting of contact lenses for patients with keratoconus.

The challenge

Keratoconus is characterised by the progressive thinning of the cornea, the clear front part of the eye which helps us to see clearly. This corneal irregularity is commonly corrected using rigid, or hard, contact lenses. Corneal topography is a computer assisted diagnostic tool that creates a three dimensional map of the surface curvature of the cornea. However, current fitting processes use lens design that is not optimal for this modern imaging technique. Furthermore, it requires advanced clinical skills, is time consuming for patients and if lenses are not fitted properly, could limit visual clarity.

It is the aim of this project to re-invent the virtual fitting” of contact lenses for keratoconus patients. This is through new contact lens designs which have been informed by linking data-rich corneal topography scans with historical records of patient contact lens specifications. A virtual fitting system will help clinicians create the fitting of an optimal lens using corneal typography data. 

stat icon

1 in 450

people are affected by keratoconus - depending on ethnicity

Finding a solution

The personalisation of contact lenses can improve the physical fit of the lens to align with the shape of the cornea in keratoconus patients. 

The new contact lens designs, fitted with the assistance of a virtual module, will be compared to the way contact lenses are fitted in clinics.

This will be assessed by the following:

  • the alignment of the contact lens with the corneal surface
  • the number of trial lenses required to fit a patient
  • the time required to fit a contact lens
  • the patient acceptance of a new lens
  • the changes in fit when lens parameters are adjusted 

The potential

This approach would simplify the fitting of contact lenses by engaging with novel technology to achieve an optimal fit in patients with keratoconus. This will minimise the need for trial contact lenses, improve patient care, reduce the risk of infection and advance patient centred clinical practice. 

It is hoped that optimising visual function, reducing clinical visits and decreasing the need for invasive surgical interventions such as corneal grafts can enhance patient outcomes. This in turn can improve the quality of life for patients with keratoconus. 

Project Details

Funding scheme

Innovation grant

Grant holder

Mr Daniel Ehrlich

Area(s) of work

Corneal/​ocular surface disease, Service improvement, Patient experience

Award level

£40,540

Start date

May 2021

Grant reference

GR001212