Most of us take for granted the convenience of contact lenses to correct common vision problems. However, contact lenses are also used to deliver healing properties to people with eye disease. Contact lenses are used to provide a bandage of sorts to improve healing and alleviate pain from certain eye surface conditions. However, scientists are producing contact lenses today that contain medications or biological material to restore eye health.
A new medical contact lens, Prokera, is being used by eye practitioners to repair and heal eye surface disease. Prokera is a device that contains a contact lens made out of clear, flexible material and houses a piece of amniotic membrane.
What Is an Amniotic Membrane?
Amniotic tissue is derived from the placenta. The placenta is the tissue that provides nourishment and protection to a developing baby during pregnancy. It also contains tissues that provide healing properties. The amniotic tissue is taken from healthy, consenting females with no communicable diseases after a C-section delivery. The tissue is fully screened and tested for the disease.
What Does Prokera Do?
Prokera provides protection and healing properties that make eye tissue heal faster, produce less pain, reduce scarring and decrease inflammation. Although they know that it works, the scientist does not completely understand how exactly it provides these healing properties.
Conditions Prokera Treats
Prokera is primarily used to treat the following:
- Chemical burns
- Dry eye syndrome
- Recurrent corneal erosions
- Corneal ulcers
- Chronic corneal inflammation
- Corneal abrasions and trauma
- Bullous keratopathy
- Corneal infections
How Do Healthcare Providers Insert Prokera?
The insertion procedure is fairly simple. The patient is seated in the eye examination chair with his or her head against the backrest. Some patients may be tilted back in the chair. A Prokera contact lens is larger than a typical contact lens so occasionally healthcare providers will insert an eyelid clamp to hold the eye open wide. For most patients, Prokera will be inserted similarly to a regular contact lens. The patient will look down and the practitioner will insert the device up under the upper eyelid, pull the lower lid out and push the lower ring under the lower eyelid. The outside rings of the lens are thicker and sometimes cause discomfort. If the lens is very uncomfortable, the medical professional may partially close the eyelid. The lens is typically left in the eye for 10 days, although the healthcare provider may choose to take it out sooner or a few days later. Depending on the condition, the patient is either seen daily or in about a week’s time.
How Does Prokera Work?
Prokera provides mechanical protection from the eyelid and the outside environment. What makes Prokera better than a typical bandage contact lens is that it allows the surface of the eye to heal by reducing certain growth factors and pro-inflammatory chemicals that can cause severe inflammation and scarring. It also decreases the chance of abnormal blood vessels from forming. Furthermore, Prokera offers some antibacterial properties to reduce infection.
Prokera is a medical contact lens device that can be fit into a diseased cornea with chronic inflammation when typical medications or medical treatment fails. It is safe and effective and the tissue is regulated by the FDA. The special contact lens must pass many quality control standards before being used by your healthcare provider. Most vision insurance and Medicare covers the device but prior authorization is required in most cases.