Many patients are aware of soft contact lens options, or even small diameter rigid gas permeable (RGP) contact lenses. However, there is now newer, and possibly better contact lens technology involving hard lenses. Scleral contact lenses are hard gas permeable lenses that are much larger in size. These lenses drape over the cornea and land on the sclera, or the white part of the eyes.
These lenses are exceptional in delivering precise clarity, and perhaps surprisingly, increased comfort. The lenses are filled with a saline solution before being inserted into the eye that bathes the front surface. This can be an excellent option for patients with end stage dry eye disease as it prevents the cornea from drying out during the day. These lenses are even advantageous for patients with corneal opacities or degenerative corneas like in keratoconus or previous corneal transplants. The lenses sit well above the cornea and create a new refractive surface, bending light where it needs to and improving vision dramatically. Patients can go from seeing only the “Big E” or worse to seeing 20/20!
Due to the precise nature of these lenses, they often require more visits to obtain an exact fit for your eye. The first exam requires extensive measurements and takes longer than most soft lens fittings. Once these measurements are obtained, lenses are ordered and return typically in one to three weeks. Measurements are vital in determining how the lens will rest on your eye and how the lens will vault over your cornea. At the following visit, insertion and removal of the lenses is taught, as this differs significantly from soft lens insertion and removal. With these lenses, specialty devices or “plungers” are used that make the process easier. Due to the size of these lenses, they are much easier to see and maneuver than soft lens options. These lenses also require different cleansing solutions than soft lens options, and these solutions are typically Boston Simplus or Unique pH. Once insertion and removal is adequately performed, cleansing methods are understood, the lenses will be yours to wear home!
Scleral lenses are highly specialized lenses and are options for just about everybody. They are especially helpful in patients suffering with dry eye or have distortions in their cornea. They can help improve vision dramatically and lead to increased quality of life with their delivery of increased comfort. We would be happy to evaluate your eyes to determine if scleral lenses are an option for you!