What are scleral contact lens?
Scleral contact lens are customized rigid contacts that are noticeably larger than average and vault over the entire corneal surface and rests on the “white” part of your eye, known as your sclera. This allows for any irregularity of your cornea or other issues to be “replaced” by a smooth curvature, allowing the light rays that enter your eyes to land perfectly on your retina.
Candidates for Scleral Contact Lens
Patients with corneal conditions such as keratoconus, pellucid marginal degeneration, keratoglobus, and more are typically fit with scleral contact lens. In some cases, patients with these conditions can eliminate or delay the need for corneal transplant surgery with the use of scleral contact lens.
Soft Lens Intolerance
Sclerals are also worn by patients who have become intolerant to soft contact lens but are bothered by comfort in rigid gas permeable lens. Contact lens intolerance can be developed over time, having signs and symptoms of foreign body sensation, irritation, and red eyes when wearing their contact lens. The material of scleral contact lens and the vaulting over the cornea allows patients to continue wearing contact lens even if they can no longer tolerate the soft ones.
Patients with damage to their cornea due to conditions such as Sjogren’s syndrome, Stevens-Johnson syndrome, severe dry eyes, corneal scars, and corneal transplants are also great candidates for scleral contact lens.
What to expect in the eye exam
The initial exam will determine your refractive error. At that exam, corneal topography will also be used to obtain the front curvature of your eye to aid in determining your contact lens. During this exam, your eye’s health will be evaluated to ensure no issues with the use of scleral contact lens.
Your optometrist will use trial lenses with several different parameters to determine the best fitting lens for your eyes, then will customize your lens based on the fit and any type of irregularity to your eyes, as well as the necessary prescription for you to see your best.
Due to the highly customized fit of the scleral contact lens and depending on the complexity of your eyes, there may be additional follow up exams as your eye and contact lens adjust to perfect the fit.
FAQs about Scleral Contact Lens
Is it painful/uncomfortable?
No, a well-fitted scleral contact lens will feel comfortable all day long. Never sleep or over-wear your contact lens – not only will it be uncomfortable but increases your risk of infections and complications.
Why is this better than soft contact lens for my corneal condition?
A soft contact lens will conform to your cornea, so any part of your cornea that is not perfectly smooth will still affect your vision. The scleral contact lens will vault over your cornea, creating a new and smooth curvature of your eye, allowing you to be able to see better.
Is it difficult to insert and remove?
Majority of new wearers are able to successfully insert and remove their scleral contact lens within 20 minutes of education. Unlike soft contact lens, there are tools to help insert and remove contact lens which makes it easy to learn.
How often do I need to replace the contact lens?
Unlike the soft contacts which are daily, biweekly, or monthly disposables, the scleral contact lens will last a full year if properly handled. At your annual eye exam, your prescription and scleral lens will be updated, and a new pair of scleral contact lens will be prescribed for you.
How long will the initial fitting take for the contact lens?
Anywhere between 15-45 minutes depending on the complexity of your case. Additional follow ups, typically 2-4, may be required to fine tune the prescription and fit to ensure maximum comfort and vision.
I have done my initial fitting, how long does it take to receive my lens?
If using insurance, it can take anywhere between 3-6 weeks to receive your lens. If doing self-pay, it takes up to 2 weeks to receive your lens.
How much does this cost?
Vision insurance (not medical insurance) may cover the cost of a pair of scleral contact lens for patients with any corneal conditions that have improved vision in scleral contact lens, such as the ones listed above. Any additional costs are from insurance co-pays and any add-ons, such as toric (astigmatism) or multifocal.
I woke up with a pink/red eye. Is it okay to keep wearing my scleral contact lens?
No, any type of active infection or inflammation is a contraindication to wearing any type of lens on your eye. You should get seen by your eye care provider to evaluate and treat your condition before you begin wearing your contact lens again.
What are my next steps to be fitted with the scleral contact lens?
Schedule an appointment or call our office at (303) 427-2020 and mention that you are interested in scleral contact lens.