What Vision Problems Do Scleral Lenses Correct?
Have you been wearing standard contact lenses but struggling to achieve the results you want in terms of visual acuity and comfort? If so, then now might be the right time to have a discussion with your eye doctor about scleral lenses. A scleral lens has a wider diameter than a standard contact lens and sits on the white of the eye (the sclera) rather than on the corneal surface itself. The design of the lens allows it to vault over the entire cornea, encasing much of the ocular surface in a reservoir of fluid. This design is effective in correcting vision (and providing greater levels of comfort), particularly for patients who have not been able to achieve good results with other types of contact lenses, eyeglasses, or other treatments.
In the early days, scleral lenses were classified alongside other specialty contact lens types. More recently, though, these types of lenses have become extremely popular and commonplace in the treatment of many eye or vision problems. Scleral lenses are probably best known for treating patients with irregularly shaped corneas, as the vault-over-the-cornea design makes fitting scleral lenses far more doable in these situations than fitting a standard soft contact lens. However, if you are wondering if your specific condition is treatable with scleral lenses, here are a few vision problems that we commonly treat with scleral lenses:
- Keratoconus or post-surgical ectasia. Keratoconus occurs when the corneal surface thins and then starts bulging outwards in a conical shape. This shift in shape affects how the eye receives light, which can lead to distortions in vision. When it occurs as a complication to LASIK or other laser eye surgeries, keratoconus is referred to as “post-surgical ectasia.” Since both issues are related to abnormalities in corneal shape, scleral lenses are often the best option for treatment.
Related Post: What is it like Living with Keratoconus?
- Dry eye syndrome. Because scleral lenses leave a reservoir of fluid between the lens and the ocular surface, they are the most effective type of contact lenses for keeping the eyes hydrated. In turn, they help protect the ocular surface from the outside environment and from friction of the eyelids that occurs in dry eye syndrome patients, along with other painful symptoms.
- Corneal transplant complications. Corneal transplants often fail. Risks of irritation to the new tissue, of excessive strain being placed on the new corneas, or of infection of the corneal tissue itself, can all cause the corneas to fail. Wearing standard contact lenses at this time will only put extra strain and irritation on the new corneas. Scleral lenses provide more protection for the eyes, thereby giving the corneal grafts a better chance of success and improved comfort compared to other types of lenses.
Related Post: What Is Corneal Transplantation?
- Eye trauma caused by chemicals or burns. Eye injuries caused by chemicals or burns can lead to significant damage to the corneal surface, often resulting in scarring, astigmatism, discomfort or pain, visual distortion, and more. Scleral lenses help provide clearer vision while also hydrating the eye, protecting it from further harm or irritation, and allowing it to heal as best as possible.
- Stevens-Johnson Syndrome (SJS). Of the conditions listed so far, SJS is by far the rarest. It is a severe reaction that some patients have to chemicals, often certain medications. If you have SJS, you may experience side effects to medications such as flu-like symptoms or painful rashes on your skin. These blisters or rashes can affect the eyes or eyelids, often manifesting as pink eye. In some cases, SJS-related inflammation can damage the eye tissues and cause permanent visual impairment. Scleral lenses help resolve dry eyes (a common symptom for SJS patients) and protect the eyes from irritation and strain that can exacerbate the risk of tissue damage.
These conditions are just a few that we have treated effectively using scleral lenses. They are also arguably the best option available for addressing complications of radial keratotomy surgery, corneal degenerations and dystrophies, Sjogren’s Syndrome, and more. If you are curious about whether scleral lenses are the right option for you, contact Weston Contact Lens Institute today to schedule an appointment.