If you have difficulties wearing contact lenses, you may benefit from scleral lenses. To wear scleral lenses, you must visit a specially trained optometrist who can properly fit you with them. The fitting process for scleral lenses is much more involved than that for regular contact lenses, but can lead to a significant improvement in overall vision and comfort for many patients.
What are Scleral Contact Lenses?
While regular contact lenses rest on your eyes' corneas, scleral contacts are much larger and rest on the sclera, the white part of your eye. Scleral lenses are designed to vault the entire corneal surface and can therefore create a smooth optical surface to correct vision problems caused by corneal ectasia. We have had great success in improving both vision and comfort for many of our patients here with the help of these lenses.
Who can wear Scleral Contact Lenses?
Ideal candidates for scleral lenses include patients with an irregular corneal surface. This includes patients with keratoconus, pellucid marginal degeneration, post-penetrating keratoplasty (post-PKP), corneal scarring, irregularities following refractive surgery and ocular surface disorders. With a careful fitting process, scleral lenses fit over even irregularly shaped eyes.
In addition, patients who suffer from chronic dry eye may benefit from wearing scleral lenses.
Finally, scleral lenses are a great option for patients with otherwise healthy corneas who have very high prescriptions (high myopia, high hyperopia and high astigmatism).
Why do Scleral Lenses Work Better on Some Patients than Regular Contacts?
Scleral lenses are made up of rigid materials which create a new front surface for the eye by positioning the tear lens between the scleral lens and the cornea. This new front surface can correct astigmatism and irregularities of the corneal surface. This often leads to a significant improvement in vision compared to standard contact lenses.
With proper fitting, scleral lenses prove to be extremely comfortable. Most patients describe the feeling of a properly fit scleral lens as being more comfortable than soft lenses because it does not actually touch the cornea. Due to their large size, scleral lenses do not dislodge with eye movements. In addition, airborne particles and dust rarely get under the lens.
For some patients with corneal irregularities, the use of scleral lenses may delay or eliminate the need for corneal transplant surgery
Making an Appointment for Your Scleral Lens Fitting
The most important thing to remember with scleral contact lenses is that you must have a qualified optometrist perform the fitting. Not every eye clinic provides this service, but are excited to offer scleral lens fittings for our patients here at Forest Creek Eye Center. If you think that you might be a good candidate for scleral lenses or have been told that you need hard-to-fit contacts, call our office for a scleral lens fitting appointment with Dr. Natascha Mellis.