What are scleral lenses?
Scleral lenses are larger lenses created from the same breathable lens material as standard gas permeable (GP) lens, or “hard” contact lenses. Hard contact lenses were used prior to the new soft contact lenses and although they provide the best vision possible, the comfort of the hard lenses made it difficult for many patients to adjust to.
Scleral lenses are the best of both worlds – you get the clarity of a hard contact lenses but since they are much larger, they vault over the cornea and rest on the white portion (sclera) of the eye. They fit underneath the eyelid, making the lens very comfortable to wear.
Scleral lenses allow more oxygen to pass through to your eyes than soft contact lenses. They are more durable and longer lasting, so although there is a bit of a financial investment up front, with care, scleral lenses can last a long time.
Why do scleral lenses help with dry eye?
Scleral lenses are often used in the treatment of dry eye, as the space between the cornea and the back of the scleral lens holds fluid (sterile saline), which provides moisture all day.
Why are scleral lenses used in astigmatism?
Astigmatism is simply an irregular shaped cornea – instead of being perfectly round, one area is steeper and another are is flatter, causing light to not focus properly.
Scleral lenses are an ideal solution for astigmatism because they are perfectly round and created from a firm lens material. This enables the lens to optically replace the irregular curvature of your cornea by creating a smooth, round surface for light to pass through.
When else can scleral lenses be used?
As scleral lenses don’t rest on the cornea, they can be a great option if you have an irregular cornea that may be caused from:
Dry eye or other corneal disease
LASIK, RK or PRK
What is involved in a scleral lens fit?
A scleral lens fit at South East Eyecare costs $200 (this does not include the cost of the lens).
There are two parts to a scleral lens fit:
1. Lens Selection – based on your corneal topography, we are able to pick a lens from the fitting kit that should closely fit and place it on your eye. A corneal topography is a map of the front of the eye, indicating areas of steepening and flattening. We then assess the fit of the lens and make any adjustments necessary by trying on different lenses on the eye. Once we are able to find a satisfactory fit, we will often leave the lens on the eye for 20-30 minutes, allowing it to settle into the scleral tissue. At that time, we are able to do a refraction over the lens, calculating what power needs to be ordered for your eye. We will then place an order for your customized lenses.
2. Lens Training – once your lenses arrive, we will bring you back for training on how to insert and remove the lenses, as well as how to care for the lenses including cleaning and storing. We will ensure that the lens is still a good fit and that the vision is good. At this point, if any adjustments need to be made to the lens, this can often be done at no additional cost from the manufacturer. Further adjustments may come with an additional cost (this can be discussed in depth once a lens type has been selected for you).