Scleral contact lenses are a type of hard contact lens that extends beyond the cornea, covering the entire corneal surface and resting on the sclera, the white part of the eye. While scleral lenses are commonly used to address eye conditions like keratoconus, corneal transplants, and irregular corneas to provide improved vision, they also serve various medical purposes. This article will shed light on when and why doctors may recommend scleral contact lenses for medical reasons, including severe dry eye syndrome, Stevens-Johnson syndrome, and post-injury recovery.
Scleral Contact Lenses for Severe Dry Eye Syndrome
Severe dry eye syndrome, also known as keratoconjunctivitis sicca, is a condition in which the eye fails to produce an adequate amount of tears or the tears evaporate too quickly. This can result in persistent dryness, discomfort, blurred vision, and a higher risk of corneal damage. While traditional contact lenses can exacerbate the symptoms of dry eye, scleral lenses offer a unique solution.
Scleral contact lenses act as a reservoir for a saline solution that fills the space between the lens and the cornea. This reservoir provides constant moisture and lubrication, alleviating the symptoms of dry eye syndrome. By keeping the cornea hydrated and protected, scleral lenses offer significant relief and can improve both comfort and vision for individuals with severe dry eye.
Scleral Contact Lenses for Stevens-Johnson Syndrome
Stevens-Johnson syndrome (SJS) is a rare but severe hypersensitivity reaction that affects the skin and mucous membranes, including the eyes. It often causes painful blisters, inflammation, and damaging lesions on the cornea. In some cases, SJS can lead to long-term complications, such as corneal scarring and vision loss.
To protect the delicate and compromised cornea of SJS patients, scleral contact lenses can be used. These larger lenses not only shield the cornea from further damage but also create a moist environment that promotes healing. By reducing friction and providing a barrier against external elements, scleral lenses can help relieve discomfort and protect the cornea during the recovery process.
Scleral Contact Lenses for Post-Injury Recovery
After an eye injury, the cornea and surrounding tissues require a suitable environment to heal properly. Scleral contact lenses can play a vital role in supporting the healing process by providing stability and protection.
In cases where the cornea has undergone severe trauma or surgery, scleral contact lenses can act as a protective shield. By covering the entire cornea and limiting exposure to external factors, such as dust, debris, or eyelid movement, scleral lenses minimize any further damage and promote optimal recovery.
Scleral lenses also create a liquid cushion between the eye and the lens, optimizing comfort and reducing friction, which is crucial during the healing phase. These lenses can significantly improve visual acuity while allowing the eye to heal without interference.
How to Be Fit with a Scleral Contact
When interested in a scleral contact lens, a special contact lens fitting is needed to measure the eye and order the proper lens.
Scheduling this fitting for a medical reason is often done by the referring eye doctor or is done by the provider who will perform the fitting.