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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)

 

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

2) Remove the lens from your eye and place it on your palm so it sits like a bowl.

3) Place a couple drops of a cleaning solution onto the lens.

4) Gently rub the lens for about 20 seconds.

5) Rinse the lens with fresh tap water or saline solution to remove the cleaning solution.

6) Place the lens in the contact lens case.

Note: If you have two lenses, repeat step 2 - 6 with the other lens.

7) Fill the lens case with fresh conditioning solution and close the case.

8) Allow the lens to soak for at least 4 hours (ideally overnight).

 

How long do scleral contact lenses last?

Like standard hard contacts, scleral lenses can last for at least 1-2 years!

 

This all depends on how you take care of them, how you’re seeing, and how they fit your eye.

 

Do scleral contact lenses hurt?

No! In fact, since they’re designed to land on the white part of the eye, this completely eliminates contact with the cornea (the sensitive part of the eye).

 

As a result, we find that most patients find scleral contact lenses to be a very comfortable lens option.

 

Can you sleep or nap in scleral contact lenses?

Honestly, unless instructed otherwise, we do not recommend sleeping in these lenses.

 

How long can scleral contact lenses be worn?

12-14 hours (comfortably). Depending on your corneal condition, these lenses can be worn between 6 - 14 hours. Furthermore, they may need to be taken out and cleaned once or twice a day.

 

How much do scleral contact lenses cost?

Honestly, this varies practice to practice. If you have EyeMed vision insurance or medical insurance, we’re happy to see if you’re covered for medically necessary contact lenses.

 

Note: Since we’re out of network with VSP vision insurance, we are unable to use their medically necessary contact lens benefit. However, we’re more than happy to find you an eye doctor that is in network and fits sclerals!

 

Also, we provide our cash pay scleral contact lens patients with a significant discount!

 

Conclusion

Overall, scleral contact lenses can be life-changing for patients with severe corneal disease and even for patients that have struggled with other types of contacts in the past.

 

Interested in scheduling an eye exam with one of our scleral experts? Give us a call or simply schedule online (Northlake Mall or Concord Mills).