Contact details – behind the lens at CLC
Deborah Chan, Deepa Kumar, Robyn Stirling, Graeme Curtis, Alan Benjamin, Vicky Wang and Charl Laas (Absent: Andrew Kim)

Contact details – behind the lens at CLC

June 17, 2024 Dr Vicky Wang and Robyn Stirling

Brimming with anticipation in the early hours of a dark March morning, together with two other optometrists, we headed to Corneal Lens Corporation (CLC) in Christchurch, courtesy of our Cornea and Contact Lens Society (CCLS) NZ scholarship. We were greeted by CLC director Graeme Curtis and team members Charl Laas, Alan Benjamin and Andrew Kim.


Our four-day advanced contact lens workshop began with a tour of CLC's state-of-the-art lab. We watched in awe as the DAC ALM lathes meticulously crafted more than 200 orders from optometrists across Australasia. Everything from small corneal rigid gas permeable (RGP) contacts to bespoke scleral and ortho-k lenses were brought to life with micron precision. Beyond the machines, a team of professional lab technicians ensured each order met CLC’s exacting standards. Maree, a soft contact lens technician, offered insights into the intricate process of crafting prosthetic lenses – a transformative solution for patients with opaque corneas seeking cosmetic enhancement post-injury.


In the afternoon, Laas led a riveting exploration of custom RGP lens designs, demonstrating his expertise in the EyeSpace contact lens-design software. His approach challenged our preconceptions, guiding us from the periphery to the core of scleral lens design. He also provided a better understanding of the mechanics of scleral lenses and patient selection to lens creation based on engineering principles, giving us a fresh perspective on our own practices. 


Tailoring with topography


Day two brought mentorship from Benjamin, drawing from his extensive experience in paediatric optometry and contact lenses. His step-by-step guidance in customising each of the modifiable parameters in scleral contact lens design, using the sMap 3D Lens Composer software, was invaluable. In troubleshooting extreme corneal ectasias from hospital patient cases, we uncovered insights that transcended textbooks and enriched our approach to patient care. 


Once equipped with the tools to custom-design scleral contact lenses, we took a step back on day three with Kim who provided some training on the recently updated and enhanced sMap 3D topography technology. He shared his experience capturing high quality topography maps and how they are stitched together to provide a complete picture of the patient's anterior surface. These maps are the foundation for custom contact lens design and integral to a successful tailored solution for patients. 


The visionary behind CLC is Curtis. His passion for innovation and dedication to advancing contact lens technology was evident. At a special lunch, we were reminded of the pivotal role he’s played in shaping many of our careers — mentoring us from the early days of corneal RGP fittings to navigating complex orthokeratology and scleral cases.


We left the special CLC workshop with far greater knowledge about specialty contact lenses and immense gratitude to the CLC team and CCLS NZ for their generous sponsorship. The workshop and lectures not only broadened our understanding but also reignited our passion for enhancing patient care with bespoke contact lenses, probably shaping our practice for years to come.


Vicky Wang and Robyn Stirling are therapeutically qualified optometrists currently working for Te Whatu Ora in Auckland.