Scleral Lenses and Astigmatism: What You Need to Know
Scleral lenses represent a remarkable advancement in the world of vision correction, offering a revolutionary solution for individuals with astigmatism. Astigmatism, a common refractive error characterized by an non spherical curvature of the cornea or lens, has long presented challenges for traditional contact lenses and eyeglasses. However, scleral lenses, with their unique design and unparalleled comfort, have emerged as a game-changer in astigmatism management. These specialized lenses not only provide exceptional visual acuity but also offer relief to those who have struggled with discomfort and limited options for clear and stable vision. In this exploration, we will delve into the fascinating world of scleral lenses, uncovering their benefits, intricacies, and how they have transformed the lives of individuals with astigmatism.
What is Astigmatism?
Astigmatism affects the way light enters the eye and is focused on the retina. It occurs when the cornea or the lens of the eye has a non spherical shape. Instead, the cornea or lens may have a more oval or football-like shape. This shape causes light rays to focus on multiple points on the retina, rather than a single point, leading to distorted or blurred vision.
Astigmatism can occur in varying degrees of severity and can be present from birth or develop later in life. It often occurs alongside other refractive errors such as nearsightedness (myopia) or farsightedness (hyperopia). Common symptoms of astigmatism include blurred or distorted vision, eye strain, headaches, and difficulty seeing fine details.
Fortunately, astigmatism can be corrected effectively. An eye examination by an optometrist or can diagnose astigmatism and determine the appropriate treatment to provide clear and sharp vision.
What are Scleral Lenses?
Scleral lenses are specialized contact lenses that rest on the white part of the eye called the sclera. They are made of rigid, gas-permeable material and are designed to vault over the entire cornea creating a gap between the lens and the cornea. This unique design distinguishes scleral lenses from other types of contact lenses and provides a range of benefits, making them particularly useful for individuals with certain eye conditions or vision needs.
Here are some key characteristics and advantages of scleral lenses:
- Improved Vision Correction: Scleral lenses can correct a wide range of refractive errors, including astigmatism, and irregular corneal shapes such as keratoconus or post-surgical irregularities. Because they cover the entire cornea, they can provide sharper and more stable vision, even for complex cases.
- Comfort: Despite their larger size, many wearers find scleral lenses to be comfortable due to the cushion of tears that fills the gap between the lens and the cornea. This makes them suitable for individuals with dry eyes or sensitivity to traditional contact lenses.
- Stable Fit: Scleral lenses are less prone to movement on the eye compared to smaller, conventional contact lenses. This stability can be particularly beneficial for athletes and those with active lifestyles.
- Protection and Healing: Scleral lenses can act as a protective barrier for the cornea, shielding it from environmental irritants and promoting healing in cases of corneal disorders or injuries.
- Customization: Scleral lenses are individually tailored to fit each wearer’s eye, ensuring a precise and comfortable fit. This customization is especially crucial for individuals with irregular corneas or complex vision needs.
- Long Wearing Time: Scleral lenses can often be worn for extended periods, including all-day wear, thanks to their oxygen-permeable material and the fluid reservoir beneath the lens that helps maintain eye moisture.
- Reduced Glare and Halos: Individuals with conditions like keratoconus or post-LASIK complications may experience reduced glare and halos when using scleral lenses, improving nighttime vision.
While scleral lenses offer numerous advantages, they also require proper fitting and care, so it’s essential to work closely with an experienced eye care professional to ensure the best results and comfort.
How Can Scleral Lenses Help Astigmatism?
Scleral lenses can be highly effective in correcting astigmatism, providing several advantages for individuals with this refractive error:
- Correction of Irregular Corneal Shape: irregular astigmatism or corneal ectasia is often caused by an irregularly shaped cornea, where the curvature of the cornea asymmetric. Scleral lenses, with their rigid gas-permeable material and custom-made design, can mask the irregularities of the cornea, creating a smooth and uniform optical surface. This helps in focusing light properly onto the retina, resulting in clearer vision.
- Enhanced Visual Acuity: Scleral lenses can significantly improve visual acuity for individuals with astigmatism, including those with high or irregular astigmatism. The large diameter of these lenses ensures that light rays entering the eye are less affected by the corneal irregularities, leading to sharper and more stable vision.
- Reduced Distortion: Astigmatism can cause distortion and blurriness in vision, making it challenging to see fine details and objects clearly. Scleral lenses provide a stable and uniform surface, reducing the distortions associated with astigmatism, and allowing for better visual clarity.
- Comfortable Fit: Scleral lenses are known for their comfort, partly because they vault over the cornea and rest on the sclera, avoiding direct contact with the sensitive corneal surface. This design can be especially beneficial for individuals with astigmatism, as it minimizes irritation and discomfort often associated with traditional contact lenses not fitting properly.
- Customization: Scleral lenses are custom-made to fit the individual’s eye precisely, accounting for the unique corneal shape and degree of astigmatism. This customization ensures optimal correction and comfort.
- Dry Eye Management: Scleral lenses create a tear reservoir between the lens and the cornea, providing continuous hydration and relief for individuals with dry eyes.
- Versatility: Scleral lenses are suitable for a wide range of astigmatism cases, including those with high astigmatism or irregular corneas due to conditions like keratoconus or post-surgical complications. Their adaptability makes them a valuable option when other forms of correction, such as eyeglasses or standard contact lenses, may not provide adequate visual clarity.
Overall, the unique design and customizable nature of scleral lenses make them a compelling choice for individuals with astigmatism, especially those with challenging or complex cases.
If you would like to learn more about whether you’re a suitable candidate for scleral lenses, we recommend that you get in touch with our team today. We will walk you through the intricacies of this type of contact lenses as well as go more into detail regarding the benefits of scleral lenses if you have astigmatism.