By: Dr. Allison Moy, O.D., F.A.A.O, F.S.L.S
Clearvue Vision Center proudly serving Kent, WA and Renton, WA.
Have you experienced difficulty achieving adequate vision or comfort in traditional soft or gas permeable contact lenses? New innovations in scleral contact lenses have provided a great alternative for those seeking contact lenses for either cosmetic or medical vision correction reasons.
While for some, soft or gas permeable lenses solve their vision difficulties, for others—specifically those with irregular corneas or hard-to- fit-eyes, these lenses may not be optimal. These special cases require special contact lenses. Each set is custom-made for a patient’s particular eye needs.
If this sounds like you, contact our Renton office for more information about scleral contact lenses for your unique vision needs.
Left: Scleral Contact Lens Right: Traditional Gas Permeable Len
1. What are scleral contact lenses?
Scleral contacts are large-diameter gas permeable contact lenses specially designed to vault over the
entire corneal surface and rest on the "white" of the eye (the sclera). In doing so, scleral lenses mask the irregular cornea and create a smooth optical surface resulting in sharper vision. Since the lens does not touch the cornea, these lenses are very comfortable.
2. Scleral contact lenses were the first contact lenses made.
Scleral contact lenses date back to the early 1880s and were first made from blown glass. Early scleral
lenses were not oxygen permeable and became unhealthy for the cornea, ultimately falling into disuse.
With new digital processes for manufacturing custom contoured scleral lenses and advancements in
breathable lens materials, there has been a recent resurgence in scleral lenses.
3. Scleral contacts, although very large, are actually very comfortable.
Scleral lenses have a diameter equal to or greater than that of soft lenses. It may seem daunting to imagine placing a large diameter lens on your eye, but the honest truth is that sclerals are very comfortable. The scleral lenses rest on the sclera, which is not as sensitive as the cornea.
4. Scleral contact lenses provide consistent vision and improved stability.
Another great advantage to wearing scleral contact lenses is stability. The lenses sit very stable on the eye with minimal irritating movement as can be experienced with standard gas permeable lenses. Also, scleral contact lenses provide a tear film between the cornea and the back surface of the lens. This tear film—the fluid between the eye and lens—keeps the cornea consistently moist, providing enhanced comfort and consistent vision.
5. Scleral contacts are ideal for irregular corneas, hard-to-fit eyes, and dry eyes.
While anyone interested in wearing scleral contact lenses may do so, scleral lenses are particularly recommended for the following eye conditions:
Irregular corneas: An irregular shaped cornea – this includes eye conditions such as Keratoconus– usually cannot be fully corrected with glasses or soft lenses. Compared to sclerals, soft lenses are really not ideal for irregular cornea patients because the lenses drape over the corneal irregularity. Plus, vision in soft lenses can be disrupted when the lenses rotate, while the vision provided by rigid scleral lenses is not affected by lens rotation. Other causes for irregular cornea include Pellucid Marginal Degeneration, Post-LASIK complications, and corneal transplants. Scleral contact lenses are a great lens for irregular corneas.
Hard-to-fit-eyes: Sometimes eyes cannot be fitted with normal GP lenses because of the shape of the eye. The smaller GP lenses may also tend to pop out during athletic activities. Scleral contact lenses can provide a more comfortable and secure fit.
Dry eyes: Scleral contact lenses do not absorb moisture as soft lenses do. The tear film that sits between the scleral lens and cornea provide consistent hydration to the surface of the eye and welcome relief for dryness.
To find out more information about scleral lenses, visit http://www.sclerallens.org/.
If you suffer from irregular corneas, dry eyes or hard to fit eyes, find out if scleral lenses are right for you: schedule an eye exam at Clearvue Vision Center in Renton, WA by calling (425)251-9200 or schedule online at http://www.clearvuevision.com/.