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Scleral Lenses: What They Are and How They Work

Introduction to Scleral Lenses

Scleral lenses are a type of gas-permeable contact lens designed to provide clear and comfortable vision for individuals with irregular corneas, severe dry eye, or other complex ocular conditions. Unlike traditional contact lenses that sit directly on the cornea, scleral lenses vault over the entire corneal surface and rest on the sclera, the white part of the eye. This unique design offers numerous benefits for vision correction and eye health.

How Scleral Lenses Work

Scleral lenses function by creating a smooth optical surface over the irregular cornea, allowing for sharper and more stable vision. Here’s a step-by-step explanation of how they work:

1. Vaulting Over the Cornea

  • Design: Scleral lenses are larger in diameter compared to standard contact lenses, ranging from 14 to 20 mm. This allows them to vault over the entire cornea without touching it.

  • Benefit: This design is particularly beneficial for individuals with keratoconus, corneal ectasia, post-surgical complications, or severe dry eye disease, as it protects the cornea from further irritation and damage.

2. Reservoir of Tears

  • Fluid Reservoir: The space between the back surface of the scleral lens and the cornea is filled with a saline solution during insertion. This fluid reservoir provides constant moisture to the cornea.

  • Benefit: The continuous hydration helps relieve symptoms of dry eye and promotes healing of the corneal surface.

3. Stable and Comfortable Fit

  • Resting on the Sclera: Scleral lenses rest on the sclera, which is less sensitive than the cornea. This minimizes discomfort and enhances stability.

  • Benefit: This stable fit ensures that the lenses do not move significantly with blinking, providing consistent vision correction and comfort throughout the day.

Benefits of Scleral Lenses

Scleral lenses offer a variety of advantages over traditional contact lenses, making them an ideal choice for individuals with specific eye conditions. Here are some key benefits:

1. Enhanced Vision Quality

  • Optical Clarity: By creating a smooth optical surface over the cornea, scleral lenses correct refractive errors and provide sharp, clear vision.

  • Customized Fit: Each scleral lens is custom-designed to fit the unique shape of the patient’s eye, ensuring optimal vision correction.

2. Improved Comfort

  • Less Irritation: Because scleral lenses do not touch the cornea, they are less likely to cause irritation, making them comfortable for extended wear.

  • Moisture Retention: The fluid reservoir keeps the eye hydrated, reducing dryness and discomfort.

3. Protection and Healing

  • Barrier Function: Scleral lenses act as a protective barrier, shielding the cornea from environmental factors and mechanical stress.

  • Promoting Healing: For individuals with corneal abrasions or other injuries, scleral lenses provide a therapeutic environment that promotes healing.

Who Can Benefit from Scleral Lenses?

Scleral lenses are particularly beneficial for individuals with the following conditions:

  • Keratoconus: Provides a smooth optical surface over the irregular cornea, improving vision.

  • Post-Surgical Eyes: Helps manage complications following corneal surgeries, such as LASIK or corneal transplants.

  • Severe Dry Eye: Keeps the eye constantly hydrated, alleviating symptoms of severe dry eye syndrome.

  • Corneal Ectasia: Offers support and vision correction for thinning and bulging corneas.

  • Irregular Astigmatism: Corrects astigmatism caused by irregular corneal shapes that cannot be managed with traditional lenses.

Getting Fitted for Scleral Lenses

Fitting scleral lenses requires expertise and precision. Here’s what to expect during the fitting process:

1. Comprehensive Eye Exam

  • Assessment: Your eye care professional will conduct a thorough examination of your eyes, including measurements of your corneal shape and size.

2. Custom Lens Design

  • Customization: Based on the measurements, scleral lenses will be custom-designed to fit the unique contours of your eye.

  • Trial Fitting: You will try on trial lenses to ensure the fit and comfort are optimal. Adjustments may be made as needed.

3. Training and Care

  • Insertion and Removal: Your eye care provider will train you on how to properly insert, remove, and care for your scleral lenses.

  • Follow-Up Visits: Regular follow-up visits will ensure the lenses are fitting well and your eyes remain healthy.

Caring for Scleral Lenses

Proper care and maintenance are crucial for the longevity and effectiveness of scleral lenses. Here are some tips:

  • Daily Cleaning: Clean your lenses daily with a recommended lens solution to remove debris and prevent infections.

  • Storage: Store lenses in a clean, disinfected case filled with fresh saline solution.

  • Avoid Tap Water: Never rinse your lenses with tap water, as it can introduce harmful bacteria.

Conclusion

Scleral lenses offer a revolutionary solution for individuals with challenging vision and eye health conditions. By providing enhanced vision, superior comfort, and therapeutic benefits, scleral lenses can significantly improve the quality of life for many patients. If you think scleral lenses might be right for you, schedule a consultation with our office to explore your options and receive a personalized fitting.

Visit us today to learn more about scleral lenses and how they can transform your vision and eye health.

Hillside Optometry - Granada Hills 

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