Designed to provide enhanced vision, enhanced comfort, and/or protect the ocular surface
Scleral contact lenses are another type of rigid contact lens made out of a gas permeable material, but they are larger and have a different design than traditional, smaller corneal RGPs. Scleral lenses are designed to vault over the cornea and land on the sclera (white part of the eye); the space between the lens and the eye is filled with a preservative free saline solution to create a “tear layer”. This unique structure has allowed scleral lenses to be a very successful option for many different patients and conditions due to 3 main reasons:
Enhanced Vision - Scleral lenses are designed with a rigid material that allows for improved vision. In addition, the liquid tear layer underneath the scleral lens fills in any corneal surface irregularities. Coupling the smooth rigid surface of the lens while neutralizing the corneal irregularities with the tear layer has the potential to yield better vision than other lens modalities.
Enhanced comfort - The cornea is extremely sensitive, which is why even a little eyelash can be extremely uncomfortable when it moves to the center of the eye. Scleral lenses do not come into contact with the corneal tissue and instead land on the much less sensitive sclera, which allows this lens to be more comfortable than traditional RGP lenses. This unique design of landing only on the sclera also led to this lens' name: scleral lenses!
Ocular surface protection - For some patients, particularly those with dry eye and other types of ocular surface disease, scleral lenses can provide a certain degree of protection. Their larger rigid design acts as a sort of shield that protects the eye from external irritants such as dust and wind, particularly in patients who are unable to fully close their eyes. The liquid tear layer underneath maintains a moist, hydrating environment which provides constant lubrication for patients that suffer from dry eye.
At Austin Contact Lens Institute, we have access to a wide variety of scleral lens designs, including scan based and impression/mold based designs. These custom designs allow for greater success for many of our patients, even patients that may have tried scleral lenses in the past. If you are interested in scleral lenses, please feel free to reach out to us today!
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