Certain eye disorders require specific conditions to begin recovery. Normal contact lenses used to correct vision may not provide the necessary conditions for recovery. Scleral lenses are a special type of lens that corrects vision while at the same time have the necessary technology to promote eye health.
Scleral lenses normally last for around 1-3 years, similar to other contact lenses. However, they can last longer with proper and regular maintenance using the prescribed sterilized saline cleaning solution.
What are Scleral Lenses?
Scleral lenses are large-diameter lenses made with oxygen-permeable materials. It has a smooth surface that fills in the gaps and irregularities in the cornea, resulting in restored vision. This type of lens does not move on the eyes because it is placed on the sclera or the white part of the eyes.
Scleral lenses are kept in a liquid sterile saline solution. Using a scleral lens not only protect the eyes from harmful exposure to sunlight and other elements, but it will also provide the oxygen necessary for healing eyes suffering from certain conditions or irregularities; Scleral lenses are ideal for people with dry eyes.
The functions of the scleral lens are different from the rigid glass permeable lens or RGP lens. The RGP lens is not oxygen-permeable and cannot be used for people with irritated or damaged cornea. This type of lens covers the entire cornea by matching the exact shape of the individual’s sclera. Thus, there is maximum surface contact between the scleral lens and the eyes.
It can vault completely on the cornea through technologies such as computerized corneal topography and Zeiss-Visante Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT). The computerized corneal topography provides a three-dimensional image of the corneal surface including the depression, curves, and elevation. The Zeiss-Visante OCT provides a cross-section of the front position of the cornea to visualize its integrity.
Scleral lenses are typically more expensive than other types of lenses. However, they provide restorative benefits to vision while providing stability and comfort. It can reduce the eye’s sensitivity to glare and also provide a wider field of vision. It can also reduce an individual’s dependence on glasses for good vision.
It can alleviate some conditions caused by astigmatism. In certain cases, however, there are residual effects of astigmatism after wearing scleral lenses that require corrections on the scleral lens.
Scleral lenses can also help in alleviating other eye diseases including keratoconus, corneal ectasia, and pellucid marginal degeneration. It can also be used for recovering from complications due to surgical eye operations such as post-refractive surgical complications due to LASIK.
Difference Between Scleral Lenses and Contact Lenses
Scleral lenses are technically not considered contact lenses. These lenses are gas permeable which only vaults on the cornea. It does not touch the cornea like corneal lenses and other contact lenses.
Scleral lenses can also fit any eye shape. Its construction depends on the measurements of the sclera and cornea and the ocular condition or irregularity.
The capability of scleral lenses to facilitate ocular healing compared with contact lenses makes it a non-invasive recovery tool for people with compromised vision. It can be worn with ease and fits under the eyelids. It also does not easily pop out and does not cause pain when removed.
Scleral lenses are often bigger when compared with standard soft lenses but are just as comfortable as the standard lens. Using scleral lenses allows the eye to remain hydrated when worn which gives the eyes enough moisture and oxygen.
Like contact lenses, scleral lenses should be removed before sleeping. Usually, people wear scleral lenses for 12-14 hours a day and then remove them at night for cleaning.
Some people become uncomfortable in using contact lenses, specifically hybrid contact lenses, in just an hour of use. The material and technology used for creating scleral lenses allow people to use them for longer without suffering from any discomfort. This can drive up the cost of scleral lenses but will eventually be a worthwhile investment in terms of both eye health and comfort.
Scleral Lens Lifespan and Proper Maintenance
Scleral lenses are more delicate than conventional contact lens. Thus, it requires more rigorous cleaning.
They require a specialized sterile saline solution for cleaning and disinfecting. Using tap water to clean scleral lenses can expose it to allergens and bacteria that can cause complications and eye infections.
Typically, a scleral lens can last 1-3 years similar to other contact lenses. However, the chance of using scleral lenses for a longer period depends on the quality and frequency of lens care.