Understanding the Differences Between Hybrid Lenses and Scleral Lenses
Hybrid lenses and scleral lenses are two types of specialty lenses available today. Each type has its unique benefits for people with specific eye health issues.
Some people with specific visual demands, conditions such as dry eye or keratoconus (a misshapen cornea), may have trouble wearing traditional soft contact lenses because they are uncomfortable or unhelpful. These patients are often good candidates for specialty lenses designed to address certain eye conditions and give the wearer clear vision and superior comfort. Two of these specialty lens types are scleral contact lenses and hybrid contact lenses.
Dry eye scleral contact lenses are often the lens of choice for patients with irregularly shaped corneas or corneal injuries or diseases. These larger-diameter lenses rise in the center to vault over the cornea, while the outer edges of the lens rest on the white part of the eye (the sclera, hence the name). The wearer of scleral lenses fills this “vault” with fresh preservative free saline solution each time they wear them. This liquid reservoir helps keep the eyes lubricated throughout the day, making scleral lenses an excellent option for people with dry eye syndrome. The layer of saline also fills irregular spaces in the cornea, neutralizing irregular astigmatism in many conditions.
You can think of hybrid lenses as a cross between corneal RGP lenses and soft lenses. Hybrid lenses feature a “hard” (rigid gas permeable) center surrounded by a soft ridge or skirt. This design has several advantages. For one thing, the hard center can provide clear vision even in patients with corneal irregularities or ectasia. At the same time, the soft skirt offers the comfort and ease of care of a soft lens. Hybrid lenses provide the same exceptional vision correction as most other contact lenses. However, they may not be ideal for someone with extremely dry eyes, or ocular surface disease because they do not restore the ocuar surface the way a scleral lens does.
Hybrid and scleral lenses are both larger-diameter lenses than corneal RGPs. This larger size can mean greater comfort and less likelihood that the lens will become dislodged during sports or other activities. Both types of lenses generally require an adjustment period when you first start wearing them. This may mean wearing the lenses for just a short period the first day and increasing this time gradually over a few days or more until you are wearing the lenses comfortably all day. Both scleral and hybrid lenses are custom-fitted to each patient’s eyes for a more comfortable and effective fit than disposable soft lenses.
Related post: 5 Tips for Scleral Lenses Care
One difference between the two lenses is that many scleral lenses are slightly larger than hybrid lenses (about 16.0mm versus 14.5mm). Also, hybrid lenses do not vault over the cornea like scleral lenses do. Hybrid lenses make more contact with the cornea than scleral lenses do. Scleral lenses do not have the soft skirt that hybrid lenses have; instead, scleral lenses are made of a highly breathable RGP material. Finally, hybrid lenses (while very comfortable) have the primary function of correcting irregular astigmatism or refractive errors. In contrast, scleral lenses can benefit people with a wide range of ocular surface issues (refractive error may or may not be one of them).
Which is right for you?
Although scleral and hybrid lenses have several things in common, they do serve very different functions. They are also only two of the many types of contact lenses on the market. If you are interested in wearing contact lenses but are hesitant because you aren’t sure you’re a good candidate, be sure to schedule a consultation with us to provide an eye examination and discuss your options with you. There are more types of contact lenses than ever before, and almost everyone can find a match.
Our team of eye care doctors looks forward to helping you achieve your goal of wearing contact lenses instead of eyeglasses regularly.
Testimonial from Jaime, Satisfied Patient
Amazing office from start to finish. Office staff very friendly and helpful. Dr. Kramer was great. She helped my dry eyes and gave me a different type of contact that I’m wearing now. I met with eyeglass department and they quoted me new lenses. Great pricing! Would recommend this office and eye doctor!