The Benefits of Scleral Contact Lenses
Have you stopped wearing contact lenses because of dry eye, keratoconus, or another eye condition? Scleral contact lenses could make it possible to use contacts once again.
The Difference Between Scleral Contact Lenses and Other Contact Lenses
Soft contact lenses and traditional rigid gas permeable contact lenses are designed to fit over your cornea, the clear tissue that covers your iris and pupil. These lenses rest on the cornea and correct poor vision due to hyperopia (farsightedness), myopia (nearsightedness), and astigmatism.
Scleral contact lenses are made of rigid gas permeable polymers and are larger than soft or traditional gas permeable lenses. Scleral lenses not only fit over the cornea, but also cover part of the sclera, the white part of your eye. These lenses help you see clearly if you're nearsighted, farsighted, or have astigmatism.
The advantages of wearing scleral contact lenses include:
- Custom Fit. Soft and gas permeable lenses are available in a limited range of sizes. Scleral lenses are designed to fit your eyes' unique curvature and diameter, ensuring a better fit. The custom fit may make contact lenses an option even if you have a corneal disease or condition.
- Comfort. The sclera of the eyes is less sensitive than the cornea, which may make scleral lenses feel more comfortable. Specks of dust and dirt can work their way under soft or gas permeable lenses, causing discomfort and irritation. Scleral lenses provide a better seal that prevents irritants from becoming trapped under a lens.
- Clear Vision. Blurry vision may occur if your lenses slip and slide on your eyes. Scleral lenses are less likely to move, which keeps your vision sharp and clear.
- Increased Lubrication. Saline solution evaporates fairly quickly once you insert a traditional contact lens. As soon as the solution is gone, your eyes may feel itchy and irritated. The unique sealing ability of scleral lenses keeps the solution in place over your eyes and reduces dryness.
Are Scleral Contact Lenses a Good Choice for You?
In the past, eyeglasses were the only option if contact lenses were uncomfortable or didn't fit correctly. Today, scleral contact lenses offer an alternative solution if you have:
- Keratoconus. The fit of contact lenses can be an issue if you have keratoconus, a condition that makes the cornea cone-shaped instead of round. This irregular corneal shape prevents many people from comfortably wearing soft contact lenses. Since scleral contact lenses rest on the sclera rather than the cornea, irregularities in your cornea won't prevent you from wearing them. In a case series published in Therapeutics and Clinical Risk Management, researchers noted a remarkable improvement in vision sharpness when scleral contact lenses were worn by keratoconus patients rather than standard rigid gas permeable lenses or soft contact lenses.
- Other Diseases and Conditions. Scleral lenses may be helpful if you have corneal injuries or conditions that affect the eyes, such as Sjogren's Syndrome, severe astigmatism, graft-vs-host disease, or Stevens-Johnson Syndrome. According to EyeNet Magazine, scleral lenses may reduce scar formation in people who've had corneal injuries because the lenses never touch the corneas.
- Refractive Surgery. Although the majority of people who undergo laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis (LASIK) surgery enjoy clear vision after their procedures, some still need to wear glasses or contact lenses. If soft or traditional gas permeable lenses aren't an option, your optometrist may recommend scleral lenses instead.
- Dry Eye. If you've decided to stop wearing contact lenses due to dry eye, scleral contact lenses could change your mind. Since the lenses are designed to keep the eyes moist, they're an excellent option for people who usually experience burning, redness, itching, tearing, blurry vision, and other dry eye symptoms when wearing contacts.
- Fit Issues. You don't have to have a corneal disease or condition to experience fit problems. Fortunately, scleral contact lenses offer another option if your lenses frequently slip or just don't feel comfortable. As the lenses are designed to fit you and only you, they may be much more comfortable than other contact lenses you've tried.
Wondering if scleral contact lenses are a good choice for you? Contact our office to schedule an appointment with the eye doctor.
NCBI: Therapeutics and Clinical Risk Management: Effects of Scleral Contact Lenses for Keratoconus Management on Visual Quality and Intraocular Pressure, 1/25/2021
EyeNet Magazine: Update on Scleral Lenses, 11/2018
All About Vision: Scleral GP Contact Lenses: How These Can Help You, 3/4/2019
WebMD: What to Know About Scleral Contact Lenses, 6/16/2022