Melissa Barnett, principal optometrist at the UC Davis Eye Center, is the new president of the Scleral Lens Education Society, an international organization that teaches practitioners the science and art of prescribing scleral contact lenses and supports public education.
"Scleral lenses provide excellent vision and comfort and can be used for a wide variety of conditions to improve patients’ lives,” said Barnett, who began her one-year term last week. "In the past eight years we have been able to help people who previously have not been able to see or function with other types of contact lenses or glasses, especially those with corneal irregularities and severe dry eyes.
"This year our goal is to increase awareness and provide education about the benefits of scleral lenses to both the general public and other health-care providers. We will continue collaborating with colleagues worldwide on best practices for scleral lenses," she said.
Barnett specializes in anterior segment disease and specialty contact lenses. She lectures extensively and has been published on topics including dry eye, anterior segment disease, contact lenses, and creating a healthy balance between work and home life for owmen in optometry.
Scleral lenses are a type of gas-permeable lens that are larger than traditional small-diameter contact lenses and are unique in that they continuously bathe the eye with saline, which helps to rejuvenate the ocular surface. The lenses rest beyond the limits of the cornea and cover the white part of the eye (sclera).Fitting scleral lenses is an exacting skill, one that requires training and practice.
As president, Barnett leads an organization of optometrists, optometry students, Fellows of the Contact Lens Society of America (FCLSA), educators, researchers and other eye-care professionals interested in scleral lenses. She will oversee programs that develop and share the latest advances in research, education, scleral-lens workshops and case reports in the discipline.
She is a Fellow of the American Academy of Optometry, diplomate of the American Board of Certification in Medical Optometry and spokesperson for the California Optometric Association. She also serves on the board of Women of VIsion, Gas Permeable Lens Institute, Ocular Surface Society of Optometry and the Scleral Les Education Society.
The Scleral Lens Education Society (SLS) is an international association for vision care professionals who develop or fit scleral contact lenses. The society supports all brands and diameters of scleral contact lenses, and membership is free.