The sclera is the white outer coat of the eye of the eye. Scleral contact lenses are a thin rigid gas permeable (RGP) lenses that are supported by the sclera. Superior comfort, stability and vision are the results of the support provided by the sclera and the optics of this innovative lens material.
Unlike their smaller corneal counterpart RGP or HGP (hard gas permeable) corneal lenses, scleral RGP lenses fit beneath the upper and lower lids. This fit gives them comfort equal to and often surpassing a soft lens.
Scleral contact lenses were the first contact lenses invented in 1887, and were made of glass. Plastics suitable for contact lenses were invented in the 1930’s. It wasn’t until new gas permeable materials were developed in the 1990’s that scleral lenses began making strides for correction of many challenging eye problems. Since 2010, to the present, the newest materials allow as much oxygen through the rigid material as advanced soft lenses.
Today’s scleral lenses are making a comeback. They offer exceptional safety, comfort and the sharpness of vision and provide for a wide variety of conditions. Prescriptions are available in scleral designs for normal corneas as well as disfigured, diseased and irregular corneas.
Sclerals are ideal for low to high astigmatism in all prescriptions. They even come in multifocal designs for presbyopia (over 40’s vision). Scleral contact lenses have been a vision saver for many patients previously intolerant of soft or rigid contact lens designs.
Some patients present with damaged corneal tissue from disease or accidents. Scleral contact lenses trap a reservoir of fluid behind the lens. This fluid protects the cornea, and may even allow it to heal in some cases.
Some of the conditions for which Scleral contact lenses are a good fit for are the following:
- Astigmatism: No need to worry about lens rotation!
- Presbyopia (bifocal designs)
- Pellucid corneal degenerations
- Dry Eye
- Sjogren’s Syndrome, Stevens-Johnson syndrome, and neurotrophic keratopathy
- Corneal scar tissue obscuring vision from surgery, abrasions, ulcers, or trauma.
- Corneal transplants
- Post RK (Radial Keratotomy)
- Post-LASIK or PRK.
- Allergic eye conditions
- Sports: The lens is protected by the lids and does not dislocate as RGP corneal lenses or soft lenses