If you've been told in the past that you cannot wear contact lenses because of an irregular cornea or other problems, you may want to get a second opinion and ask your eye doctor about scleral contact lenses.
What are Scleral Contacts?
Scleral contacts are large-diameter gas permeable contact lenses specially designed to vault over the entire corneal surface and rest on the "white" of the eye (sclera). Unlike the clear front portion of the eye, the sclera does not have many pain receptors, so these lenses are typically very comfortable.
In doing so, scleral lenses functionally replace the irregular cornea with a perfectly smooth optical surface to correct vision problems caused by keratoconus and other corneal irregularities. The space between the cornea and the back surface of a scleral lens acts as a fluid reservoir to provide comfort for people with severely dry eyes. This technology works especially well for dry eye patients with a mechanical component such as lagophthalmos or an incomplete lid blink which results in improper wetting of the front surface of the eye.
What Conditions Cause the Need for Scleral Contacts
There are many ocular conditions for scleral contacts with the most common being listed below:
- High Myopia, Hyperopia or Astigmatism
- Irregular Astigmatism
- Corneal scars
- Corneal Dystrophy
- Corneal Transplant
- Sjogren’s Syndrome
- Moderate to Severe Dry Eye Patients
The cost of a scleral contact lens is more than that of other types of contacts due to several factors including the length of time necessary to fit properly, cost of materials, the technology used in fitting exams and follow-ups, and other factors.
Some patients who have vision benefits will be able to use their benefit to offset the higher cost. Some vision plans such as VSP vision insurance have a medically necessary contact lens benefit. With this benefit, if the patient meets certain criteria, then the entire process including the fit, materials, and follow-ups, can cost as little as twenty dollars for both eyes.
Who is a Candidate?
Patients who have a refractive error (nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism, and presbyopia) and are not able to wear other types of lenses, patients with conditions that affect the tear film, and patients with irregular corneas may benefit from scleral lenses.
Keratoconus is one of the conditions that cause irregularity of the cornea. Surgeries, such as refractive surgery, LASIK, can also lead to corneal irregularity. The cornea must be smooth in order to correct your vision with glasses or soft contact lenses.
Some patients have disorders, such as dry eyes, that affect the quality or quantity of tears that help to keep the eye’s surface smooth and healthy.
Some inflammatory conditions also cause serious damage to the front surface of the eye. Patients who cannot close their lids completely may also experience problems with the health of the surface of the eye.
The fluid reservoir beneath a scleral lens may improve comfort and may allow the corneal surface to heal.
What are the Advantages of Scleral Contacts?
Large diameter lenses, such as scleral lenses, may be more comfortable than other lenses that rest on the cornea. The cornea is one of the most highly sensitive tissues in the body.
The conjunctiva (the tissue that lies over the sclera) is much less sensitive. Scleral lenses rest primarily or exclusively on the conjunctiva and therefore considered much more comfortable.
Want to Try Out Scleral Contacts for Yourself?
If you think that you may want to try a scleral contact lens, please call our office to schedule an exam. If the doctor feels that you are a good candidate then we can do a free in-office contact lens trial so that you can see it, touch it, feel it and get a better understanding of what a scleral contact lens can offer for your visual needs.
Insurance and Payment Plan Information
We accept most major insurance plans including Medicare and, if needed, we also provide a payment plan option called Care Credit. Care Credit provides a no-interest payment plan if paid in full within 6 or 12 months. Care credit can be used to pay for services and/or products such as glasses or contact lenses. You can enroll online at carecredit.com
It's always a pleasure to visit this office. I was able to walk in today to order a pair of prescription sunglasses, and got my computer glasses fixed (mechanic issue) . Ashley (the lady help fit glasses) is always very patient and considerate. Highly recommended!Yang Li
I recently visited the office of Dr. Love and was VERY impressed. The staff was friendly and helpful and Dr. Love was both professional and knowledgable. I could not help but notice the cleanliness of the office. They sprayed my hands when I entered, and checked my temperature. All of the staff were wearing masks. Every piece of equipment was spotless and was meticulously cleaned between patients. I could not have had a better experience with this office full of wonderful, caring individuals.Mary Rose
The staff is great and helpful. Dr. Love listened to my requests and gave me the best plan for my eye care. I can't say enough, however, about Ashley. She is always prepared for my visit and has great frame options for me in my favorite color. They always fit my face perfectly. She is AMAZING!Kelli Boyer
As always from the moment you walk in you are greeted with a smile. Everyone you come in to contact with here are very professional and friendly making it a pleasant experience. I have recommended this facility and will continue to do so. Very caring environment.Linda Goodall