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  • Writer's pictureCarina Lee

Guide to Scleral Lenses

Dr. Carina Lee, September 14, 2022

Scleral lenses could be the answer you've been looking for if you've been informed you're not a good candidate for conventional contact lenses.

When you wish to wear contact lenses but neither soft nor standard hard lenses are appropriate, scleral lenses are your best alternative.

What are scleral lenses?

For people with corneal abnormalities and other eye issues that make using contact lenses challenging, scleral lenses are a type of gas permeable (GP) lens.

Because of their special construction, they can sit on the sclera, the white area of the eye, and arch over the cornea.

Scleral lenses are more stable on the eye since they are bigger than typical GP lenses. They are more comfortable and less prone to shift or fall out when you least expect it thanks to their increased stability.

Types of scleral lenses

There are three different types of scleral lenses:

  • The smallest scleral lenses—corneo-scleral and semi-scleral—are placed on the eye at the point where the cornea and sclera converge.

  • The medium-sized scleral lenses - are called mini-scleral lenses. They are situated on the anterior portion of the sclera and arch across the cornea.

  • The largest type of scleral lens - available, full scleral lenses have the widest arch across the cornea, increasing the distance between the lens and the cornea.

When are scleral lenses prescribed?

Although anyone can benefit from scleral lenses, they are generally prescribed for patients diagnosed with:

  • Irregular corneal shape

  • Sensitive cornea

  • Pellucid marginal degeneration

  • Post-penetrating keratoplasty (PKP)

  • Corneal irregularities post refractive surgery

  • Moderate to high astigmatism

  • Sensitive eyes

  • “Hard-to-fit” eyes

  • Severe dry eye syndrome

Scleral lenses are custom designed for each patient to provide increased comfort, along with clearer, sharper vision.

Scleral lenses and dry eye syndrome

Patients who have been advised to avoid contact lenses due to their severe dry eye condition may find relief with scleral lenses.

Standard contact lenses rest directly on the cornea, which increases the risk of corneal injury while also causing discomfort and irritability.

Scleral lenses are intended to keep the eye moist all day long even if they do not even touch the cornea.

Fresh saline solution is applied to the "bowl" of the scleral lens prior to insertion. The hydrating and dry eye relief solution stays in the area between the cornea and lens to deliver continual hydration.

For further dry eye relief, some eye specialists advise placing a gel eye drop or artificial tears solution to the lens' "bowl."

To further lubricate your eyes while wearing scleral contact lenses, you may also use artificial tears and other lubricating eye drops that your doctor has prescribed. But once they start using their scleral lenses, many patients find that they can cut back on how often they need to use these drops.

Patients with typically red, irritated, dry eyes can achieve healthier-looking eyes because to the scleral lens' continual hydration.

Scleral lenses are a fantastic solution for people who have dry eye syndrome since they relieve dry eye symptoms and also improve visual acuity and quality of life.

What are the benefits of scleral lenses?

There are many benefits to wearing scleral lenses, including:

  • Customized to your needs

  • Higher oxygen permeability

  • Durable and scratch resistant

  • Comfortable, without any adaptation period

  • Provide clear, sharp vision

  • Stable on the eye

  • Correct vision for hard to fit ocular conditions

  • Provide dry eye relief

  • Easy care and handling

What are the disadvantages of scleral lenses?

A scleral lens exam requires the use of specialized imaging equipment and automated tools in order to get exact eye measurements and an optical prescription. A scleral lens examination may therefore cost more than a typical contact lens examination.

Furthermore, scleral lenses should last one to three years. However, if you ever need to replace your scleral lenses for whatever reason, the cost of the new lenses will normally be higher than the cost of regular contact lenses.

If you have a unique eye condition, scleral lenses are a terrific contact lens alternative and can give you the comfort and clarity of vision you've been looking for.

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