When you hear about the many benefits of modern contact lenses, their small size is often listed as a selling point. But, for some patients, bigger is better, especially in cases where corneal irregularities or other challenges require stronger vision correction than ordinary soft lenses can provide. That's why our experts in optometry at Chapel Hills Vision Clinic in Colorado Springs, CO, offer scleral lenses in addition to our many other contact lens options.
What Are Scleral Lenses?
Today's standard contact lenses are designed and fitted to rest solely on the surface of the corneas. This small, comfortable design appeals to many individuals looking for convenient, easy-to-use contacts. However, the very first contact lenses, pioneered in the late 19th century and offered to the public in the early 20th century, were actually scleral lenses. In this design, the lens doesn't rest on the cornea at all—it vaults completely over it, its rim sitting on the white of the eye, or sclera.
While the first scleral lenses were uncomfortable because they deprived the eyes of oxygen, today's more breathable materials make scleral lenses surprisingly easy and comfortable to wear. They also come in different sizes. Standard scleral contacts may be up to 24 millimeters in diameter, but there are also mini scleral contacts spanning less than 18 millimeters. You can even get corneo-scleral contacts, which are only slightly larger in diameter than standard corneal contacts.
A Useful Option for Corneal Irregularities and Other Vision Issues
Why might you choose scleral lenses over other kinds of contact lenses? Scleral lenses are especially good at compensating for serious deformities in the corneal curvature. For instance, keratoconus, a cone-like bulge in the cornea that causes severe refractive errors, cannot easily be corrected by regular soft corneal lenses. But, a scleral lens can provide a smooth, regular curve that counterbalances the odd shape of the cornea. This feature also makes scleral lenses good for correcting any other kind of strong refractive error.
Another benefit of scleral lenses is their suitability for dry eye sufferers. Many people with dry eye have trouble wearing ordinary contacts; the insufficient tear film can permit the lenses to irritate the corneas. But, since scleral lenses cover the entire cornea, they also help keep moisture on the cornea, with the space between the cornea and the lens acting as a tear reservoir.
Contact Our Colorado Springs Eye Care Center
Do you think scleral lenses might be right for you? Find out by calling Chapel Hills Vision Clinic at (719) 599-5083 for an eye exam and contact lens fitting by one of our doctors of optometry in Colorado Springs, CO.