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For people with severe dry eye, astigmatism, and corneal diseases such as keratoconus, glasses and soft contact lenses can be less than ideal. Scleral lenses are optimal for these situations. These large specialty contact lenses fit over the cornea for more stable and smooth vision and comfort.
Scleral contact lenses get their name from the fact that, unlike regular contacts, they vault over the entire corneal surface and rest on the white part of the eye, which is called the sclera. This makes them larger than standard contacts, which in turn provides a variety of benefits. Their size makes them easier to handle and more stable when on the eye, which in turn provides the patient with sharper and more reliable vision. They are also less likely to become dislodged and come out.
Although technically anyone can wear and benefit from scleral lenses, they are a particularly good option for patients who have eye conditions or irregularities that for which regular contacts are not suitable. This includes patients with:
Dry eye syndrome. Contact lenses float on a fine layer of tear film, which keeps them comfortable and in position. Patients with dry eye syndrome either do not have enough natural tear film, or what they do have drains away too quickly. This can
make wearing regular contact lenses difficult and uncomfortable. However, the design of scleral lenses keeps moisture on the surface of the eyes, eliminating some of the effects of dry eyes. This makes scleral lenses a great choice for patients with dry eyes.
Irregular corneas. The cornea is the clear dome that covers the front part of the eye and many people have a cornea that is a slightly, or significantly, irregular shape. This causes light to be refracted incorrectly when it enters our eyes, triggering vision problems. Issues arising from irregularly shaped corneas cannot be completely corrected using glasses or conventional contact lenses. Therefore, scleral lenses, which provide sharper and more accurate vision, are recommended.