SoLo Eye Care is one of only a few offices in Chicago to offer scleral contact lens technology. Scleral lenses are large-diameter rigid gas permeable lenses. They can range from 14 mm to over 20 mm in diameter. They are called “scleral” lenses because they completely cover the cornea (the clear dome of tissue that covers the colored part of the eye) and extend onto the sclera (the white part of the eye that forms the outer wall of the eye).
Scleral lenses may be more comfortable for patients than corneal lenses. The cornea is one of the most highly sensitive tissues in the body. The conjunctiva (soft, clear tissue that lies over the sclera) is much less sensitive than the cornea. So, lenses that rest primarily or exclusively on the conjunctiva may induce less sensation than smaller lenses that rest upon the cornea.
In some patients, corneal tissue is damaged. Scleral lenses trap a reservoir of fluid behind the lens. This fluid protects the cornea, and may even allow it to heal in some cases. Corneal lenses can become decentered, and may even become dislodged. Since scleral and corneoscleral lenses extend under the upper and lower lids, they rarely dislocate.
Patients with irregular corneas, patients with conditions that affect the tear film, and patients with refractive error (nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism) who are unable to wear other forms of correction could benefit from scleral lenses.
Conditions such as keratoconus and pellucid marginal corneal degeneration cause irregularity in the surface of the eye. Surgery (keratoplasty, refractive surgery) can also lead to corneal irregularity. If the cornea is not smooth, vision will not be easily correctable with spectacles or most soft contact lenses. Scleral lenses mask this irregularity and allow for clearer vision by providing a smooth front surface through which light can enter the eye.
Patients who need visual correction, but are unable to wear other contact lenses, may find larger-diameter lenses more comfortable than other lens designs. At SoLo Eye Care, we find scleral lens technology is most beneficial in our patients that suffer from corneal disease such as keratoconus or patients that suffered significant changes to the front surface of their eye due to refractive surgery. If you feel you could benefit from this new technology, please call our office for more information.