5 Severe Eye Conditions to Treat with Scleral Lenses

scleral lenses

At Weston Contact Lens Institute, we are firm believers in the power and many benefits of scleral lenses. These specialty contact lenses, which sit on the white of the eye (the sclera) and create a vault of tears around the corneal surface, are often the go-to treatment for many vision problems and eye conditions that are difficult to resolve with standard contact lenses. For instance, irregularities corneal shape are optimal for scleral lens treatment, as the design of the lenses does not require the lens itself to sit on the corneal surface. In addition, patients with chronic dry eyes often benefit from the hydration provided by the tear film reservoir in scleral lenses.


Scleral lenses are terrific for treating several more severe eye problems, too. Here are five eye conditions or injuries that we can help relieve or treat through the use of scleral lenses.


Chemical or burn injuries: Burns to the eyes, whether caused by heat or chemicals, can cause significant scarring and irregular astigmatism in the eyes. Patients who have experienced these types of ocular burn injuries may complain of pain, discomfort, or visual distortion, as well as the inability to wear contact lenses that sit properly on the corneal surface. Scleral lenses are an effective treatment for these issues, as they act as they are custom made and provide a tear-filled reservoir for the ocular surface. By helping to hydrate the eyes, scleral lenses help promote healing and comfort and help protect the ocular surface from friction of the eyelids. The lenses, meanwhile, assist in restoring clear vision without creating additional discomfort or pain.


Radial keratotomy: Radial keratotomy (RK) was an early refractive surgery that involved making incisions into the corneal surface as an attempt to resolve issues with myopia and astigmatism. These procedures were common in the 1980s and 1990s. They later proved to cause significant complications for many patients—including chronic dry eyes, double vision, ocular infections, corneal irregularities, halos and glare around lights, and loss of visual acuity. Scleral lenses help correct many of these issues without irritating the compromised cornea. The dryness and discomfort that many RK patients have complained about over the years are resolved by the hydration provided by scleral lenses.


Stevens-Johnson Syndrome: Stevens-Johnson Syndrome (SJS) is a severe, sometimes life-threatening disorder that affects the body’s skin and mucous membranes. Often the result of an adverse reaction to medication, SJS typically begins with flu-like symptoms but progresses to rashes and blisters that spread across the body. SJS can affect the eyes and eyelids, sometimes causing inflammation or even tissue damage and scarring. Scleral lenses help protect, hydrate and restore the ocular surface, which can often be extra sensitive after in SJS. They also serve as a buffer of sorts between the eyelid and the eye surface, which can sometimes adhere painfully as a result of SJS.


Graft vs Host Disease: Graft vs host disease (GVHD) sometimes occurs in patients who have received stem cell or bone marrow transplants. The donated marrow or stem cells (the graft) start to attack the recipient of the transplant (the host), leading to symptoms ranging from mouth ulcers to abdominal pain. Occasionally, the symptoms cause pain, reduced vision, dryness, or the feeling of a foreign body in the eye. Scleral lenses are the best option for treating ocular GVHD. They protect the corneal surface from further irritation or damage, hydrate the ocular surface to lessen symptoms of dryness or grittiness, and provide clearer vision.


Sjogren’s Syndrome: Similar to GVHD, Sjogren’s Syndrome is an autoimmune disease. The difference is that, where GVHD results from a transplant, Sjogren’s Syndrome is an autoimmune condition characterized by the body’s immune system attacking its own cells and tissue. Chronic dry eyes are one of the common symptoms of this condition as well as dry mouth. While eyedrops and increased hydration can help, scleral lenses are often the best option for treating the chronic eye dryness and preventing discomfort, injuries, or vision problems that may arise as a result.


Do you believe that scleral lenses are the right option for you? Contact us today to schedule an appointment or to learn more.


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