Feasibility of fitting contact lenses with apical clearance in keratoconus

Ralph E. Gundel, David P. Libassi, Karla Zadnik, Joseph T. Barr, Larry Davis, Timothy T. McMahon, Timothy B. Edrington, Mae O. Gordon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Despite the wide variety of rigid contact lens fitting philosophies for the visual correction of keratoconus, questions remain, including which approach-flat, divided support, or steep-contributes the most toward the preservation of a clear cornea. One goal of the Collaborative Longitudinal Evaluation of Keratoconus (CLEK) Pilot Study was to determine the feasibility of managing early keratoconus patients with apical clearance rigid contact lenses. Of 30 keratoconus patients identified with at least 1 nonscarred cornea, 17 patients (30 eyes) were randomly assigned to a steep lens fitting protocol. After trial fitting with a standardized lens design demonstrating minimum apical clearance, lenses were dispensed whose base curve was 0.2 mm steeper than the minimum apical clearance lens. Patients were re-evaluated on a quarterly schedule concluding at 12 months. Changes in keratometry between baseline and 12 months identified unequal steepening of the flat and steep corneal curvatures, suggestive of corneal molding. Best corrected rigid lens visual acuity measures illustrated no significant changes over the course of the study. Clinically significant corneal compromise was transiently observed in some patients. Only 1 of 22 eyes completing the pilot study and fitted with apical clearance developed mild corneal scarring.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)729-732
Number of pages4
JournalOptometry and Vision Science
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1996


  • RGP contact lens
  • contact lens fitting
  • keratoconus


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