Scleral Lenses Help to Maximize Vision

Dr. Copeland specializes in the use of unique scleral contact lenses to maximize vision of patients who have lost best corrected vision due to corneal disease, corneal injury, or failed refractive surgery. Read this blog to learn more about scleral lenses. 

What are scleral contact lenses?

Scleral contact lenses are large diameter rigid gas permeable lenses. The lens rests on the white part of the eye, the scleral, hence its name. Scleral contact lenses are custom designed and specially made for each wearer.

How long have scleral contact lenses been around?

Believe it or not, scleral contact lenses were some of the first contact lenses ever made. At the time, scleral contact lenses were invented, a contact lens material did not exist that allowed enough oxygen to get through to the eye. This made early scleral lenses unhealthy for the eye. Today that is not the case. Recent advances in contact lens technology have created a material that allows enough oxygen to get to the eye. This makes scleral contact lenses comfortable and healthy for all day wear.

Who can wear scleral contact lenses?

Anyone! Both new and previous contact lens wears can successfully wear scleral contact lenses. Most people who wear scleral contact lenses are unable to wear standard soft disposable lenses. This might be because the front part of the eye, the cornea, is irregularly shaped or the eye is too dry. Common conditions in scleral lenses wears include keratoconus, irregular astigmatism, pellucid marginal dystrophy, post-refractive surgery complications, and dry eye. 

How do scleral lenses work?

As mentioned above most people who can’t wear standard soft contact lenses have an irregular cornea or eyes are too dry. When the cornea is irregular or the eye is very dry, people cannot see well with standard soft contact lenses or even glasses.  

Scleral contact lenses are almost like a mini bowl that is placed on the eye. The scleral lens is filled with preservative free saline solution. The scleral lens wearer leans over and inserts the scleral lens on the eye in a way that keeps the saline in the bowl of the lens. The saline creates a tear layer under the lens. This tear layer fills in any corneal irregularities of the patient. The lens itself creates a nice smooth, regular layer for light to enter the eye. The smooth layer along with the tear film provide better vision to the wearer than the irregularly shaped cornea. The preservative free saline also provides all day moisture to the eye. This is why scleral contact lenses are a great option for dry eye patients. 

Are scleral lenses comfortable?

Yes, scleral contact lenses are comfortable. Although the large size might be intimidating, scleral contact lenses are generally well tolerated and more comfortable than small diameter rigid gas permeable lenses. This is because the large lens diameter causes the edge of the lens to tuck under the eyelids. The eyelid glides over the contact lens instead of hitting the edge making it more comfortable. The large diameter also makes the lenses very stable. A scleral lens will never fall off the eye when inserted properly.

How are scleral contact lenses fit?

There are different ways to a fit a scleral lens. The most common way is to use a diagnostic fit set. Dr. Copeland inserts a scleral lens on the new wearers eyes from her fit set based on the patient’s condition. Dr. Copeland evaluates the diagnostic scleral lens on her patient’s eye. She looks at things like how well the scleral lens fits and how well the patient sees. She then consults with the scleral contact lens lab to make a customized scleral lens that is comfort, healthy, and provides great vision for patient.  

How do you insert a scleral contact lens?

There are a few different ways scleral contact lenses can be inserted and removed. Scleral lenses can be inserted with fingers alone, but more commonly a small plunger is used. 

How do you remove a scleral contact lens?

Similarly, a small plunger is also used to the remove the scleral lens at the end of the day.  

How do you clean a scleral contact lens?

Scleral contact lenses are then stored in contact lens solution to clean the lens overnight. Each new scleral lens wear at Innovative Eye Care receives a starter kit with plungers and cleaning solution. The staff work with each patient to teach them how to insert, remove, and store the scleral lenses correctly

How long do scleral lenses last?

Dr. Copeland recommend scleral contact lenses be replaced once a year.  

Can you sleep in scleral contact lenses?

Sleeping in any contact lens limits the amount of oxygen to the eye. This makes it much healthier to remove the scleral contact lens before sleeping. However, in unique situations scleral contact lenses can be slept in. Dr. Copeland can discuss this further with the scleral lens wearer during the fitting process. 

How expensive our scleral contact lenses?

Scleral contact lenses are a custom created contact lens. Therefore, they can be more expensive than standard contact lenses. However, depending on the patient condition, the scleral contact lenses might be considered medically necessary by the patient’s insurance. When scleral contact lenses are considered medically necessary by a patient’s insurance, the patient’s out of pocket cost for the scleral contact lenses and the scleral lens fitting can be minimal. Innovative Eye Care has partnered with PatientFi to offer patient’s who don’t meet medically necessary criteria or do not have insurance a financing plan. 

Interested in trying scleral lenses or have more questions? Contact Innovative Eye Care to set up a scleral lens consult with Dr. Copeland today!

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