Scleral contact lenses might be the best solution you’ve never heard of for dry eye and more

August 29, 2022 1:45 p.m.

John A. Moran Eye Center

Courtesy of Visionary

If you’ve avoided contact lenses in the past or struggled with dry eyes, scleral lenses may be the answer.

You’re not alone if you haven’t heard of these specialty lenses. Scleral contact lenses are often used by people with corneal irregularities or a clear front window of the eye, such as keratoconus.

But contact lens specialist John A. Moran Eye Center David Meyer, OD, FAAO, explains that they can also be a great option for:

  • Dry eye or other ocular surface diseases, such as blepharitis and Sjögren’s syndrome.
  • Eyelid and eye socket disorders, such as Graves’ eye disease
  • Irregular astigmatism
  • People who have had a corneal transplant
  • People with heavy prescriptions who cannot see well through glasses and cannot tolerate soft contact lenses.

Among the most notable advancements in contact lens technology, scleral lenses are “a big thing right now,” says Meyer.

Around 2009, practitioners only had access to a few types of scleral lenses. But the designs, types, and customizations available over the past decade have exploded.

How do scleral contact lenses work?

Named after the sclera, the white part of the eye, the lenses are larger than their rigid counterparts.

“These special lenses sit on the sclera and tend to be much more comfortable than rigid gas permeable contact lenses that sit on the sensitive cornea,” says Meyer. “For this reason, scleral lenses don’t pop out like some other lenses. They do a great job of sealing around the eye and not allowing dust or debris to enter below them.

Another advantage: the space between the back of the lens and the corneal surface is filled with saline solution before being placed on the eye. This liquid stays behind the contact lens, providing all-day comfort for people with severe dry eye conditions.

“When we design the scleral lens, we specify a certain curve to control the depth of the fluid chamber to improve vision and comfort,” says Meyer. “We have many patients who wear sclerals only because they suffer from extreme dry eye. Because they act like a “liquid bandage,” they can improve the signs and symptoms of moderate to severe dry eye disease. »

Why go to a specialist when it comes to contact lens prescriptions and fittings?

Experts point out that contacts are medical devices that rely on your eyes and need to be tailored to each patient.

“There are tens of thousands of combinations of diameter, curvature, material and more that can affect how a lens fits your eye,” says Meyer. “We need to assess the physiology and visual demands of your eye to determine which lens is best for you. Contact lens wearers should take extra care to ensure their eyes stay healthy. That’s why we recommend annual eye exams by a contact lens specialist for these patients. »

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