What Are Scleral Contact Lenses?
Scleral lenses are extra-large hard contacts, also called gas-permeable, which are intended to rest on the sclera, the white part of the eye. They are meant precisely for patients who have a tough time wearing traditional contact lenses, like those with dry eye and those with eye issues that cannot be corrected with traditional lenses.
There are distinct classes of the scleral lens that are based on the size of the lens and where it makes foremost contact with the eye. These three categories of scleral lens are full scleral lenses, mini-scleral lenses, and semi-scleral lenses.
The smallest of these oversized lenses are semi-scleral lenses which are also known as cornea-scleral lenses. They rest somewhere near the junction between the cornea and the sclera. Slightly larger are mini-scleral lenses which vault over the entire surface of the cornea and rest on the sclera.
Full scleral lenses are the largest variety and also cover the entire cornea. The main distinction between these larger two categories is the amount of space between the cornea and the back surface of the lens. Full scleral lenses have the most.
Scleral lenses of today are constructed with highly breathable rigid gas permeable materials. This is to ensure that plenty of oxygen reaches the front surface of your eye, making the contacts more comfortable and keeping the eye itself oxygenated and healthy by allowing air to pass through.
Their size makes scleral lenses steadier and less likely to become accidentally dislodged than conventional contact lenses. That stability can also make them more comfortable to wear.
Who Can Benefit from Scleral Contacts?
Anyone who is interested in seeing the world more clearly can benefit from scleral lenses. However, these special lenses are intended to help those with dry eye or other conditions that make wearing standard contact lenses difficult or impractical. In addition to dry eye, scleral lenses can help with other conditions such as:
- Irregular or extreme astigmatism
- Scarred or irregular corneas
- Corneal ectasia or irregularity from LASIK surgery
- Post-RK surgery