What are scleral contact lenses?

These lenses aren’t for everyone, but for those with certain eye conditions scleral lenses can reduce discomfort and improve vision.

A scleral lens is a very large contact lens that rests on the white of the eye and creates a tear-filled vault over the cornea.

Scleral lenses are designed to treat a variety of eye conditions, many of which do not respond to other forms of treatment. They are much larger than standard contact lenses, and post-doctoral training is usually required to prescribe these lenses.

Scleral lenses may be used to improve vision and reduce pain and light sensitivity for people suffering from a growing number of disorders or injuries to the eye, such as keratoconus, severe dry eye syndrome, corneal transplants, microphthalmia, corneal ectasia, Sjögren’s syndrome, neurotrophic keratitis , complications after ocular surgery, and various corneal degenerations. Injuries to the eye such as chemical and burn injuries also may be treated by the use of scleral lenses.

This image gives a visual of the difference between soft contact lenses, rigid gas permeable lenses, and scleral lenses

Unlike daily and frequent replacement lenses, scleral lenses are custom devices that are highly specialized and require daily care. Each pair of lenses is expected to last between 6 months and 1 year. In some cases the cost of a scleral contact lens examination and lenses is covered by insurance, but in some cases it is not.   However, many people who use scleral lenses are not able to achieve clear vision through glasses or standard contact lenses. It is not at all unusual for a patient who has been told “nothing can be done” to see 20/20 again with scleral lenses! In some cases, patients whose poor vision prohibited them from being able to drive have been able to do so again thanks to scleral contact lenses.

If you’re interested in learning more about scleral lenses, reach out to a local optometrist to start the conversation. Use our doctor locator to help you find an OD in your area if you don’t already have one.

Kimberly Friedman, OD, FAAO

About Kimberly Friedman, OD, FAAO

Dr. Kimberly Kester Friedman (www.moorestowneye.com) is a graduate of the Pennsylvania College of Optometry. She was the salutatorian of her doctoral graduation class and has obtained additional training in pediatric eye care. She is a Fellow in the American Academy of Optometry as well as a Diplomate of the American Board of Optometry. Dr. Friedman makes regular appearances on multiple local television stations and has authored numerous magazine and newspaper articles on eye care topics. Dr. Friedman received the New Jersey Society of Optometric Physicians' President's Award for serving as the first female president in the society's 100 plus year history. She was recognized as one of Top Docs for Kids by NJ Family Magazine and the nations "top 40 under 40" professionals in the eye care field as selected by Vision Monday Magazine, and received the "People's First Award" for the northeastern region of the United States, awarded to a doctor who demonstrates excellence in eye care and community service.

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