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Scleral Contact Lenses: What You Need To Know

May 6, 2019

Are you looking for an eye doctor that fits scleral contact lenses in the Charlotte, NC area? Look no further! At Northlake Eye, we have multiple doctors full trained and experienced at fitting these lenses.


In this article, we’ll highlight what scleral contact lenses are, who they benefit, what to expect when being fit, and much more!


RELATED: Charlotte Eye Doctors That Specialize in Hard-To-Fit Contacts

What are scleral contact lenses?

Scleral contact lenses are large, bowl-shaped hard contact lenses that range in size, typically from about 15 mm to 18 mm in diameter.


Unlike standard hard lenses, sclerals rest on the white part of your eye and vault over your cornea.


By resting on the white part of your eye, instead of your highly sensitive cornea, they’re actually quite comfortable.


We recommend scleral contact lenses for these eye conditions

There are a number of reasons you might want to wear scleral contacts. Highlighted below are the 3 most common reasons we fit these in our office.


1) Cornea ectasia

Patients with keratoconus, pellucid marginal degeneration, and keratoglobus have corneal thinning that leads to an irregular shape of their cornea. As a result, glasses and traditional soft contact lenses often fall short for these patients.


Fortunately, scleral contact lenses are designed to create a new, smooth surface for light to get through to the back of your eye. As a result, these lenses can provide you with clear, comfortable vision that far succeeds results of glasses and soft contact lenses.


2) Advanced dry eye disease (i.e. keratoconjunctivitis sicca) from conditions like Sjogren’s Syndrome

Dry eye disease is a common condition that impacts a large percentage of the patients we see. While most patients are able to manage their dryness with over the counter and prescription eye drops, others need to consider more advanced options for best results.


Fortunately, one of the options for advanced dry eye disease is scleral contact lenses. These lenses eliminate the cornea’s exposure to external air by submerging it in saline solution. This reduces discomfort and improves overall vision.


3) Post surgical corneas

LASIK and PRK are fantastic refractive surgery options (in fact, I had LASIK myself).


With this in mind, not all refractive surgery outcomes are as planned (especially those done a long time ago or with outdated technology). In these circumstances, we fit scleral contact lenses to improve patient's overall vision and comfort. 


Being fit with scleral contact lenses

When fit with a scleral contact lens, your eye doctor will take measurements of your cornea before selecting a lens to put on your eye.


Because fitting these lenses is more difficult than standard lenses, it may take a few trips to your eye doctor to get things just right! This is also why being fit with scleral contacts lenses is typically more expensive than other contacts.


Putting in and taking out scleral contact lenses

Before being placed on your eye, these lenses need to be filled with preservative-free saline solution. As mentioned before, this is wonderful for patients with dryness because their eye is bathed in saline all day long! Also, by vaulting over the cornea, these lenses create a smooth refracting surface for clearer, sharper vision.


Taking out scleral contacts is different than taking out regular lenses. In fact, most patients prefer to use a scleral plunger to remove these lenses. Below is a video that effectively demonstrates how to put in and take out scleral contact lenses.



How do you clean scleral contact lenses?


Using hydrogen peroxide based solution (i.e. Clear Care Solution)


1) Wash your hands with soap and water then dry them with a clean towel.

2) Remove the lens from your eye.

3) Place the lens in the Clear Care specific contact lens case.

Note: If you have two lenses, repeat step 2 and 3 with the other lens.

4) Fill the lens case with Clear Care solution and place the lens holder in the case.

5) Tighten the case cap and store the lens(se) for at least 6 hours.


Using disinfection solutions for gas permeable lenses (i.e. Boston Advanced)