Scleral contact lenses have been around for some time, though they have traditionally been used for advanced anterior segment pathology. Newer scleral contact lenses are manufactured with smaller designs and better technology, allowing our eye doctors to use scleral lens designs more often. Many patients can benefit from the vision and comfort that scleral contact lenses can provide.
How Scleral Contact Lenses work:
Compared to traditional hard or soft contact lenses, which interact with the cornea (the clear, front part of the eye), scleral contact lenses rest on the white part of your eye and vault over the cornea, therefore there is no interaction. This lack of corneal interaction leads to an extremely comfortable fitting lens providing excellent visual acuity.
Uses for Scleral Contact Lenses:
- Kerataconus: These contact lenses have proven to be an ideal modality for patients suffering from Kerataconus. Traditionally, smaller hard contact lenses have been used to improve vision in keratoconic patients. Unfortunately, these lenses interacted with the front part of the cornea, causing discomfort and possibly exacerbating corneal scarring. As you read above, scleral contact lenses do not interact with the cornea, leading to better comfort and decreasing contact lens induced corneal scarring.
- Dry Eye: Dry eye is a major reason patients discontinue contact lens wear as they age. Contact lenses interact with the tear film on the front of the eye, leading to inadequate lubrication and symptoms of dry eye. Scleral contact lenses serve to vault over the cornea, and the vaulted area is filled with preservative free saline. Therefore while wearing the lenses your cornea is constantly bathed by the saline, preventing dehydration and protecting the front of the eye.
- Large amounts of Astigmatism: Similar to rigid gas permeable lenses, scleral contact lenses are an ideal option for patients that have a large amount of corneal astigmatism.
- Irregular Corneal Surface: Scleral contact lenses can be a good option for patients who suffer from reduced vision secondary to an irregular corneal surface. Causes including: corneal dystrophies, corneal disease, or complications of refractive surgery.