24th February, 2010 - Posted by Dr. S. Barry Eiden - 7 Comments
Scleral contact lenses are large diameter gas permeable lenses that are fit to “vault” the entire surface of the cornea and rest on the far less sensitive white of the eye called the sclera. The advantages that scleral lenses provide include; significantly greater comfort vs. corneal rigid lenses, excellent positioning of the lens centrally over the eye to provide optimal vision correction especially in cases of highly irregular cornea surfaces (as occurs with diseases such as keratoconus or following eye surgeries such as cornea transplants and poor outcomes with LASIK eye surgery). In addition, scleral lenses provide a consistent pool of tears beneath the lens and as such can be a solution for patients with severe dry eye disease.
Very few eye care specialists (optometrists or ophthalmologists) are skilled in the fitting of scleral lenses. However, those that are can provide care for patients who have exhausted all other options.
One example of a person who benefited from the fitting of scleral contact lenses at North Suburban Vision Consultants is J.M., an 81 year old gentleman who suffered a severe herpes eye infection of his left eye a number of years ago. He ended up requiring a corneal transplant, however it was not successful. The outcome was a scared eye with recurrent erosion of the surface cells. Not only was the eye functionally blind, but it was very painful. Various medications were attempted to address the erosion of the corneal surface as were bandage soft contact lenses and even other surgical procedures. All failed. He was referred by his corneal surgeon to NSVC for scleral contact lens fitting in order to promote surface corneal healing. At the initial visit we were able to fit him in a large diameter scleral contact lens that provided immediate improvement in his comfort. J.M. did not want us to take off the lens! He has worn the scleral lens now for over 2 years and has been able to be comfortable all day long without pain. If the fitting of the scleral lens had been unsuccessful his only other choice would have been to remove the eye and have an artificial eye put in its place. J.M. is so very happy that we were able to avoid this from happening.
This is just one of many wonderful cases where a scleral contact lens has had dramatic impact on one of our patient’s lives.
We welcome questions or comments about scleral contact lenses on our blog.