Scleral contacts are a specific type of contact lenses that are designed to sit on the white part of the eye, the sclera, rather than the cornea.
How do Scleral Lenses Fit?
To provide good comfort, scleral contacts do not come into contact with the sensitive cornea on the front of the eye. Instead, these lenses vault over the cornea and only touch the sclera.
Scleral contacts are hard material as opposed to the soft hydrogel material in common soft contacts. This rigid material creates a bowl shape for the scleral contact lens.
The bowl is filled with saline solution prior to putting the lens on the eye. The saline solution acts as a cushion for the lens between it and the cornea.
Since scleral lenses are a rigid material, they are not designed to move much while on the eye. Even when blinking, the scleral contacts will remain mostly in the same position.
What Type of Prescriptions can Wear Scleral Lenses?
Astigmatism can also be corrected with scleral contacts, and they may provide better vision than some soft contact lenses.
How Do You Put in and Take Out Scleral Contact Lenses?
Scleral contacts will usually come with a special plunger, or suction cup, that is designed to make inserting and removing the lens easier.
To put the scleral lens in, you will hold the scleral lens with the plunger and hold open both of your eyelids open. Then place the scleral lens on the eye while it is filled with saline solution.
It is possible to insert the scleral lens without using the plunger and using only your fingers by holding it with a three-finger grip and doing the same procedure.
To take the scleral lens out, use the plunger on the bottom portion of the scleral lens and gently rock it off of the eye.
It is important to not try to place the plunger directly on the center of the lens as it will not break the suction between the scleral lens and the eye and can cause pain if you try to remove the lens this way.
If the scleral lens does not come off of the eye, look up and gently press on the white of the eye until the suction between the scleral lens and the eye is broken and attempt to remove the lens again.
Who is a Good Fit for Scleral Contact Lenses?
In general, anyone who is committed to properly maintaining and safely wearing scleral contacts can be considered to wear them.
However, scleral contacts are often a more expensive and elaborate option if another type of contacts, such as soft contacts or corneal rigid contacts, could work.
In cases where other options have not worked, like keratoconus or severe dry eye, scleral contacts may provide a good option for clear, comfortable vision.
If you are considering scleral contacts, schedule an appointment with your eye doctor to discuss the benefits and risks for you.