Irregular Corneal Astigmatism and Scleral Lenses
If you have been diagnosed with irregular astigmatism, you may be wondering exactly what this means and how it will affect you going forward. Astigmatism is a common eye condition associated with an imperfectly shaped cornea. This type of astigmatism is usually correctable with eyeglasses or contact lenses. Irregular astigmatism, on the other hand, means that you have a distortion in your vision that neither spectacles nor traditional contact lenses can correct.
However, there is an alternative you might want to explore: scleral contact lenses. Scleral lenses are a great non-surgical solution for irregular astigmatism that can provide excellent vision correction, whether your vision problems were present at birth, caused by corneal surgery, or of some other origin. Scleral lenses can allow you to experience clearer vision and better comfort while keeping your eyes hydrated throughout the day as well.
Types of Astigmatism
Astigmatism means that due to the irregular shape of the cornea, light enters unevenly onto the retina. This issue can result in distorted or blurry vision, headaches, eye strain, eye irritation, or squinting. You may be born with astigmatism, or you may develop it later in life. Astigmatism often occurs along with nearsightedness (myopia) or farsightedness (hyperopia). It falls into three categories:
- Myopic astigmatism: In this type of astigmatism, light focuses in front of the retina, causing distant objects to look blurred.
- Hyperopic astigmatism: In farsighted astigmatism, light rays focus beyond the retina. These patients still experience blurry vision, but they will have trouble seeing up-close objects clearly rather than distant objects.
- Mixed astigmatism: Patients with mixed astigmatism have both types; they will have trouble seeing both up-close and distant objects clearly.
Astigmatism is also regular or irregular. Most cases are regular, which means that the front of the eye is oval in shape. Irregular astigmatism, on the other hand, may result from a corneal distortion, degeneration or from surgery.
Scleral lenses for Irregular Astigmatism
In cases of irregular astigmatism that are considered moderate to severe, the distortion may be too extensive to be corrected properly with traditional soft contact lenses, because these lenses simply conform to the existing shape of the cornea. By contrast, scleral lenses rest on the sclera, not the cornea. They maintain their shape regardless of any imperfections in the cornea. They function as a replacement lens, allowing the eye to focus light correctly and achieve crystal-clear vision and exceptional comfort. Another great feature of scleral lenses is their shape; these lenses are vault-shaped to form a reservoir for liquid between the lens and the cornea, keeping the eye hydrated while correcting the vision.
Scleral contact lenses are named for the way they fit the eye. The white part of the eye is known as the sclera, and this is the part of the eye on which scleral lenses rest while maintaining space between themselves and the cornea. These lenses have become an increasingly important therapy for patients with irregular corneas. They are also custom-fit to each eye, giving patients an extremely comfortable fit and superior and stable vision.
Patients with astigmatism need to see an eye doctor who is trained and experienced in fitting scleral lenses for adequate vision correction. At Weston Contact Lens Institute, we have helped many patients achieve clear vision and outstanding comfort with scleral contact lenses. We also offer kids’ eye exams, dry eye treatments, emergency eye care, and a range of services through our Myopia Management Clinic. We encourage you to contact us to schedule an eye exam today so that you can learn about your options for better vision and more comfortable eyes.