Published: Aug. 12, 2010
Updated: Feb. 22, 2012
Scleral contact lenses are a unique, custom-made lens used in the management of a variety of eye conditions.
They may be used as a method of vision correction for patients with severe corneal irregularities, or they may be used as a therapeutic device for those with various ocular surface disorders.
Scleral lenses are larger than standard contact lenses and usually range from about 16mm to 20mm in size. Despite their size, they tend to be extremely comfortable and almost never dislodge accidentally.
They are made from a highly oxygen-permeable polymer and are unique in that they are fit onto and supported by the sclera (the white portion of the eye).
Scleral lenses vault over the cornea and fit under the eyelids. This creates a space between the front of the cornea and the back surface of the scleral lens that is filled with a preservative free, sterile saline.
For patients who need this lens as a vision device, this liquid reservoir fills in the surface irregularities of the cornea allowing vision to be restored in a comfortable manner.
The lens and the fluid liquid bandage beneath it protect the cornea from exposure to air and the rubbing effects of blinking.
This cushion of fluid beneath the lens also provides oxygen to the cornea. The effect is to create a smooth optical surface over the diseased cornea that replaces the distorted surface to improve vision, often dramatically.
Many keratoconus patients or patients that have corneal irregularity after corneal transplant surgery are enjoying improved vision with the use of scleral lenses.
Scleral lenses may be also be used as a therapeutic device to minimize the symptoms of any one of a growing number of disorders.
Patients who suffer from Stevens-Johnson syndrome, Sjogren’s syndrome, severe dry eye disease, neurotrophic keratitis, and graft versus host disease may benefit from scleral lens wear.
Patients suffering from injuries to the eye such as chemical and burn injuries, as well as those suffering from surgical complications or irregular corneal shape, may also benefit from the use of scleral lenses.
The initial visit includes a full eye examination, corneal topography, and scleral lens fitting.
At the conclusion of this visit, custom-designed lenses are ordered. Patients then need to return to try on the lenses once they arrive from the manufacturer.
A series of follow-up visits are necessary over the following months once wear begins.
It will be your responsibility to file a claim with your insurance company for determination of coverage.
Duke Eye Center will provide you with the appropriate documentation for the insurance company.
Visit our location in Durham, convenient to patients in Raleigh, Cary, and other areas of North Carolina, for more information about scleral lenses and other contact lens options.