Contact lenses are the corrective eyewear of choice for millions of people around the world. However, not everyone is able to wear standard contact lenses. Certain physical abnormalities in the shape of the eyeball or the cornea may make wearing regular contact lenses challenging or even impossible. For situations like these, there is another option in contact lenses, called scleral lenses. Scleral lenses may be recommended by your eye care professional when regular contact lenses are unsuitable. At Rouse Family Eye Care, we offer scleral lenses to our patients in Weston and surrounding areas.
What Are Scleral Lenses?
Scleral lenses are gas permeable lenses that are specially designed to be able to be worn by people with certain ocular conditions. They have a noticeably larger diameter than standard soft contact lenses, for one thing. This is because scleral lenses are made to span the entire surface of the cornea, out onto the whites of the eyes. The average human cornea is about 11.8 mm in diameter. The largest scleral lens is about 24 mm in diameter, and the smallest scleral lens is about 14.5 mm in diameter. Any scleral lens that is 18mm or less in diameter is referred to as a mini-scleral lens.
Scleral lenses fit differently on the eyes than regular contact lenses. Traditional contact lenses rest on the cornea. Scleral lenses “arch” over the cornea and rest on the outer edges, making contact only with the whites of the eyes. The whites of the eyes are called the sclera; hence the name of these special lenses.
How do Scleral Lenses Work?
When the scleral lens is in place over the cornea, it creates a perfect arch and smooth optical surface. This makes it possible for the wearer to experience improved vision. Furthermore, in patients with dry eyes, scleral lenses help to solve that issue, too. The gap between the inner surface of the scleral lens and the surface of the cornea becomes like a reservoir that retains fluid, keeping the surface of the eye moist and comfortable. As you can see, scleral lenses perform two functions; correcting vision and correcting dry eyes.
Who Should Wear Scleral Lenses?
Your eye care professional in Weston is the person who you should talk to about the best contact lenses for your needs. If you are unable to wear traditional contact lenses, it’s possible that your Weston eye doctor will recommend trying scleral lenses.
scleral lenses may be appropriate for a range of eye conditions including:
Graft vs. host disease
Complications from LASIK
In certain circumstances, even if you have no underlying condition that specifically warrants wearing scleral lenses, you may be a candidate if traditional contact lenses are problematic for you for other reasons. Your eye care doctor will need to diagnose your condition before prescribing scleral lenses in order to ensure that they will work for your specific circumstances. For example, if you have tried hard contact lenses, soft contact lenses, and the range of gas permeable and disposable lenses and none of them have worked, it’s possible that scleral lenses may be a better fit for you.
What Are The Main Benefits of Scleral Lenses?
scleral lenses offer many benefits for certain people. If a person wishes to have another option besides wearing eyeglasses but can’t wear traditional contacts, then scleral lenses may enable them to see well without wearing glasses. Another benefit is the ability to keep the cornea moist and comfortable. Even those who don’t necessarily have a diagnosed dry eye condition may experience dry eyes after wearing regular contact lenses all day. If a person works long hours or just needs to wear contacts for extended periods of time, then scleral lenses are a good solution. They don’t dry the eyes out like traditional lenses, which makes them more comfortable for longer periods of time. If a person has an irregular-shaped eye, then they may not be able to wear contact lenses at all. However, scleral lenses correct this problem and allow those with abnormally-shaped eyes to wear lenses and not have to wear prescription eyeglasses.
Type of Scleral Lenses
Just as with traditionalcontact lenses, there are several different kinds of scleral lenses. The most obvious difference between the various types of scleral lenses is the size. Your eye care doctor in Weston will be able to accurately determine which is the proper size of scleral lens for your eyes. The reason for needing scleral lenses will also have a bearing on what size lenses you’ll be prescribed. For instance, if you have dry eyes, you may only need a mini-scleral lens. If you have a condition such as keratoconus, where the eyeball is irregularly shaped, a larger diameter of the scleral lens will likely be needed.
Another type of scleral lens is the bifocal scleral lens, which helps to correct presbyopia. Presbyopia is a situation that frequently develops in older individuals, where it may be hard to see at a distance but also hard to see things that are very close up.
Fitting Scleral Lenses
It’s worth it to note that scleral lenses are custom-made lenses, unlike traditional contact lenses. And, like regular contact lenses, you may have a different prescription for one eye than the other eye. This means that you will have two custom scleral lenses. Fitting scleral lenses requires greater precision and expertise on the part of your eye care professional as well as that of the manufacturer. You can rely on your Weston eye care professional at Rouse Family Eye Care to give you the best possible fitting for scleral lenses.
During the fitting, a computerized “map” will be generated of the curvature of each cornea. The curvature is very important to get right, as this directly impacts how the curvature of your scleral lenses. Once this map has been created, the scleral lenses can be made and tried. Your eye care professional in Weston may want to do several fittings of different scleral lenses in order to make sure that you have the best fit possible. Ideally, the best fit will be both comfortable and afford you the best possible corrected vision.
Depending upon whether you have worn contact lenses in the past the fitting process may be easier or more challenging. In addition, the wearer must get accustomed to having the fluid reservoir beneath the scleral lenses, whether or not they’ve ever worn regular contacts before. All of these factors mean that the fitting for scleral lenses is more complex than with regular contact lenses. And, because scleral lenses are custom made and the fitting is more complex, that means that these types of lenses are also more costly than regular contact lenses. However, most people feel that the benefits make scleral lenses worth the extra cost since they might not have been able to wear lenses at all, previously.
If you suffer from any of the conditions noted above, or you have had no success with wearing regular contact lenses, then scleral lenses may be right for you.Talk to your eye doctor at Rouse Family Eye Care to discuss your options.