What are scleral contact lenses?
Scleral lenses are large diameter, hard contact lenses that are made to rest on the white part, or sclera of your eye. They do not touch your cornea at all, but rather vault over it. The resulting gap between the lens and your cornea is filled with a special saline solution.
Who is a good candidate for scleral lenses?
- Patients who cannot tolerate a regular hard lens
- Patients who their visual acuity is compromised in a soft lens
- Post-surgical corneas (corneal transplant, LASIK, RX, Intacts)
- Patients with diseased corneas: Keratoconus, Graft vs Host Disease, Pellucid Marginal Degeneration
- Certain autoimmune compromised corneas: Sjogrens Syndrome, Stevens-Johnson Syndrome
- Exposure Keratopathy
What types of scleral lens are there?
Nearly as many types of sclerals as there are patients. There’s multiple platforms, and they’re all uniquely made and researched. Finding the best, most ideal fit for each patient is what we do, and it’s what we love.
Are scleral lenses typically covered by medical or vision insurance?
Costs vary widely on what kind of contacts will best address your needs, and all of that can be addressed during your consult.
As for insurance… sometimes. Getting insurance involved with any kind of contact is tricky. Most medical insurances don’t cover any contacts of any kind. Some vision plans will help cover the cost if the patient meets certain criteria established by their plan. If the plan deems the contacts as “medically necessary” then, yes.
Your candidacy can be largely determined at your initial consult.
What are the benefits of Scleral Lenses over other kinds of Contact Lenses?
Sclerals offer many benefits beyond other types of correction. First, comfort. Most of the nerves on the surface of your eye are located in your cornea. Because scleral lenses rest on the “white” part of your eye, they don’t touch your cornea at all. Second, they are more stable than other lenses. When properly fit, they don’t move much if at all. The lack of movement provides increased comfort, and very stable vision.
How often should I replace my Scleral Contacts?
If well cared for, these lenses can last up to 2 years. Beyond that, the lenses can begin to warp and you should replace them. You should still be getting regular visits to your doctor and fitter, though to ensure that you are not having adverse effects from wearing the lenses and that your cornea and ocular surface are still healthy enough to continue wearing them.
Are different types of Scleral lenses used at earlier v. later stages of the onset of keratoconus?
Yes. Although the nuances of the different lens types matter more to your fitter than the patient… Very steep cones are typically fit with a prolate lens design. Smaller cones, or flat corneas are fit with an oblate lens.
The term "scleral lenses" is also used to describe special-effect contact lenses that alter the appearance of the wearer's eyes - often used in movies. Please explain.
Those lenses are designed for theatrical purposes, rather than as a medical device. They still carry significant risks if improperly fit, but they are not intended for extensive wearing times, nor visual acuity. These types of “scleral lenses” can be either hard or soft and simply “cover up” the white part of the eye to achieve a particular look.
At what age can a child begin wearing Scleral Lenses?
We don’t set an age. When it comes to maturity, age is nothing but a number. One of the biggest challenges with scleral lenses is in their insertion and removal, so the child should be coordinated enough to safely insert and remove their lenses. They should also be responsible enough to care for them. If the child is maintaining regular hygiene on their own, and demonstrating a high level of responsibility, this approach could yield great success.
What is the typical cost of Scleral lenses? Why are they higher cost than regular contacts?
Yes, sclerals carry significantly higher costs than standard lenses. The cleaners and solutions required to care for them are crucial to your success and ocular health as well. The anticipated fees will be discussed with you during your consult.
I have had issues in the past with contact lenses being uncomfortable, do you recommend Sclerals?
Actually, yes! Sclerals often offer superior comfort to most other lenses, and under standard fitting conditions, when fit properly, you can’t even feel them!