What are scleral lenses?
Scleral lenses make it possible for many people to wear contacts for the first time and they have many advantages for normal contact lens wearers as well.
A scleral lens is a larger lens that rests on the sclera or white of the eye, rather than the colored portion (or iris). The lens, which covers a larger area creates a pocket filled with artificial tears, fitting securely around the eye. Due to their size scleral lenses provide sharper vision, greater durability, easier handling and a lower risk for complications.
Scleral lenses are a replacement for the irregular surface of the cornea with a perfectly formed optical surface, to ensure a perfectly clear vision that wouldn’t be possible from eyeglasses or any other type of vision solution. This extra area also allows the lens to be a liquid reservoir to provide extra comfort for those who otherwise may have comfort issues with regular contact lenses.
How Safe Are Scleral Lenses?
Although this may be the first time you have heard of scleral lenses, they aren’t a new invention. In fact, they are the oldest type of contact lenses, invented in the early 16th century by Leonardo da Vinci.
However, the first prototypes that were manufactured in Europe were not very permeable to oxygen. As a result, they caused many negative side effects, such as corneal swelling. Nowadays, modern scleral lenses are designed and crafted with precise technology, new materials, and computer-driven lathes.
This leads to a higher level of safety and comfort. Contemporary sclerals have a high oxygen permeability, which reduces the risk of eye complications. Patients with keratoconus can have crystal-clear vision along with protection of the sensitive corneal surface.
Scleral Lens Fitting
Scleral lenses are always custom made to fit the unique contours of your eye, so fitting of this type of specialty lens requires specific expertise and a greater amount of time fitting than with standard gas permeable and soft contact lenses.
In many cases, a digital map of your cornea will be created, displaying for your optometrist an image referred to as your “corneal topography.” This will help your eye doctor more easily find the right fit for you, and reduce the number of trial pairs and the amount of time spent in fitting.
Is it difficult to insert and care for scleral lenses?
Scleral lenses are very durable and easy to handle. In the beginning, it can be tricky to insert scleral contacts. Our optometrists provide complete instruction and training. After a short practice period of inserting and removing your lenses, you’ll have no trouble at all!
You must care for scleral lenses in the same way as standard contacts. Right after you remove them, clean and store them with the recommended disinfectant.
How Much Do Scleral Lenses Cost?
Because of the increased amount of time that is required to obtain a corneal topography and customize a scleral lens that works best and is most comfortable for your eyes, as well as the larger material cost to produce, scleral lenses can be significantly more expensive than traditional gas permeable and soft contact lenses.
Despite this, scleral lenses still remain the most comfortable and, in many cases, only way, to obtain comfortable, accurate vision for those suffering from severe dry eye, keratoconus and other similar eye conditions.