Ten Questions to Ask Your Optometrist about Scleral Lenses
At the Miami Contact Lens Institute, we often prescribe specialty contact lenses to our patients as a means of helping them achieve clearer vision or greater levels of comfort. One of our most commonly-recommended types of lenses is the scleral lens. This lens is especially reliable in helping patients who have not been able to achieve favorable results by wearing eyeglasses or using standard contact lenses. If you are curious about scleral lenses, or if your local optometrist has recommended that you try scleral lenses, here are a few questions to ask:
- How do scleral lenses work? Where most contacts sit on the corneal surface itself, scleral lenses are larger and wider, resting instead on the sclera (the white of the eye). The lens itself then vaults over the cornea, leaving a fluid-filled chamber between the lens and the surface of the eye. This design helps hydrate the eye and compensates for irregularities in the shape of the corneal surface.
- What types of eye conditions do optometrists typically use scleral lenses to treat? Some of the conditions we usually treat with scleral lenses include Dry Eye Syndrome, Chemical and burn injuries, Keratoconus and ectasia, Corneal degenerations and dystrophies, Eyelid abnormalities, Radial Keratotomy (RK), Stevens-Johnson Syndrome, Graft vs Host Disease, Sjogren’s Syndrome, Corneal ectasia (and other complications from LASIK), and many more. Scleral lenses are also an ideal option for many patients that have undergone corneal transplant surgery.
- Am I a good candidate for scleral lenses? If you are working through any of the eye conditions mentioned above, then your optometrist will likely recommend scleral lenses. If you are curious to learn whether you are a good candidate for this type of lens, ask your eye doctor.Related article: Am I a Good Candidate for Scleral Contact Lenses?
- Are scleral lenses comfortable? Initially, there may be a sense of awareness with scleral lenses or “knowing that the lens is there”. It can take some time to acclimate to this feeling, especially if you have never worn a contact lens before. In the long run, most patients report that scleral lenses are more comfortable than other types of lenses, to the point where they are hardly noticeable. The design of scleral lenses helps reduce corneal irritation and keeps the eye hydrated and healthy, they are also custom-designed to fit the unique shape of each individual eye, factors that provide for all-day comfort.
- How do I insert and remove scleral lenses? Because of their size and rigid material, scleral lenses require a slightly different routine for insertion or removal than other types of lenses. For a step-by-step instructional video on how to insert and remove your lenses, visit our scleral contact lens page.
- Should I wear my scleral lenses overnight? While some specialty contact lenses (specifically ortho-K lenses) are suitable to wear overnight, scleral lenses are not. Plan to remove them before going to bed each night.
- What is the process for fitting scleral lenses? Know that every scleral lens needs to be specifically designed to fit the patient’s eye. This custom fitting process ensures that the lens gently lands on each part of the eye and vaults over the cornea safely and effectively. Expect a few visits for your eye care practitioner to get the right fit for your eyes.
- How do I care for my scleral lenses? Just as with any other contact lenses, scleral lenses need to be cleaned regularly and stored properly to ensure longevity and overall eye hygiene. Ask your eye doctor for specific lens care recommendations to ensure safe lens wear and increase longevity of the lenses.
- How long will my scleral lenses last? The answer to this question can vary depending on how vigilant you are about following your lens care regimen. In most cases, scleral lenses should have a similar lifespan to standard rigid contacts, which usually last between one and three years.
- Are there any complications associated with wearing scleral lenses? Any contact lens brings with it a risk of eye infections. However, these complications—when they do occur—are almost always a result of poor lens care or lens hygiene, rather than the fault of the lenses themselves. If you follow necessary lens care habits recommended by your eye care practitioner, you should have no reason for concern.
How to Insert and Remove Scleral Lens?
Step-by-Step instructional video on how to insert and remove scleral contact lens. Watch now.
Patient who wears scleral lenses after corneal transplant
Contact us at Miami Contact Lens Institute to learn more about scleral contact lenses.