Scleral Contact Lenses
Scleral contact lenses are a type of rigid contact lens that rests on the sclera, the white part of the eye, and creates a tear-filled vault over the cornea. They are designed to treat a variety of eye conditions, many of which do not respond to other forms of treatment or contact lenses. Scleral lenses are typically larger in diameter than other types of contact lenses and are made of gas-permeable material that allows oxygen to pass through to the cornea. The space between the scleral lens and the eye is filled with saline, creating a reservoir that can be beneficial for patients with dry eye disease. Scleral lenses are a good option for patients with corneal irregularities caused by keratoconus or surgical procedures, ocular surface disease, severe refractive errors, or an inability to easily fit conventional contact lenses. They can also be used after LASIK surgery or corneal transplants. Scleral lenses can correct nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism, and difficulty with near vision due to age-related presbyopia. Scleral lenses are custom-made and require an extensive fitting process with an optometrist who specializes in this type of specialty contact lenses. Patients may experience some discomfort when first wearing scleral lenses, but this typically subsides after a few days. Scleral lenses require regular cleaning and maintenance, and patients should follow their eye care professional’s instructions for proper use and care.
What are scleral contact lenses?
Scleral contact lenses, also known as scleral lenses, are large contact lenses that rest on the sclera (the white part of the eye) and create a tear-filled vault over the cornea (the clear front of the eye) . They are designed to treat a variety of eye conditions that may not respond to other forms of treatment. Here are some key points about scleral contact lenses:
1- Scleral lenses are larger in diameter compared to traditional soft contact lenses or traditional rigid gas permeable (RGP) lenses.
2- They are made of gas-permeable material, allowing oxygen to pass through to the cornea.
3- Scleral lenses provide a smooth optical surface that can correct vision problems caused by conditions such as keratoconus and irregular corneas.
4- They are a good option for patients with corneal irregularities, ocular surface disease, severe refractive errors, or difficulty fitting conventional lenses.
5- Scleral lenses may also be suitable for individuals with dry eye disease.
6- The space between the back surface of the lens and the eye acts as a reservoir that can be filled with saline solution.
7- Scleral lenses can provide crisper and clearer vision correction compared to eyeglasses and other types of contact lenses.
8- They can correct nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism, and difficulty with near vision due to age (presbyopia).
9- Scleral lenses are often used in the treatment of keratoconus and other corneal irregularities.
Caring for scleral lenses is important to ensure their longevity and maintain good eye health. Here are some general guidelines for caring for scleral lenses:
- Wash your hands: Thoroughly wash your hands with an antibacterial hand wash before handling your lenses.
- Insertion and removal: Follow the recommended method for inserting and removing your scleral lenses. This may involve using a suction tool or the tripod method.
- Cleaning and disinfection: Use approved and recommended cleaning solutions specifically designed for scleral lenses. Not all solutions are suitable for all lenses, so it’s important to use the right one. Avoid using tap water to rinse your lenses.
- Soaking: Store your lenses in a wet solution when they are not in your eyes. This is important for lenses with surface treatments, such as the Hydra-PEG coating.
- Saline solution: Use preservative-free saline solution to insert and rinse your lenses as needed. Saline should not be used for storing lenses.
- Avoid smoking: Smoking increases the risk of eye infections, so it’s best to avoid smoking while wearing scleral lenses.
- Regular check ups: Follow up with your optometrist for regular check ups to ensure the lenses are fitting properly and to minimize the risk of complications.
By following these care guidelines, you can help maintain the cleanliness and safety of your scleral lenses, ensuring optimal vision correction and eye health.
While it is generally possible to swim with scleral lenses, it is important to take precautions to protect your eyes and lenses from water-borne contaminants. Here are some things to keep in mind if you plan to swim with scleral lenses:
- Wear swimming goggles or a swimming mask that is appropriately sealed over your scleral lenses.
- Avoid exposing your lenses to tap water, pool water, or ocean water, as these can contain bacteria and other contaminants that can cause eye infections.
- Rinse your lenses with saline solution after swimming to remove any debris or contaminants that may have accumulated on or behind the lenses.
- If you experience any discomfort or irritation after swimming with scleral lenses, remove the lenses and consult with your eye care practitioner.
Overall, while it is possible to swim with scleral lenses, it is important to take precautions to protect your eyes and lenses from water-borne contaminants. Wearing swimming goggles or a swimming mask and avoiding exposure to contaminated water can help minimize the risk of complications.
Are scleral lenses covered by insurance?
The coverage of scleral lenses by insurance providers can vary depending on the specific insurance plan and provider. Here are some key points to consider:
- Vision insurance: Scleral lenses are not automatically covered by vision insurance, as they are considered specialty contact lenses. However, some vision insurance plans may provide partial coverage for the cost of scleral lenses, especially if they are deemed medically necessary.
- Medical insurance: In cases where scleral lenses are prescribed for medical reasons, such as for the treatment of keratoconus or other corneal irregularities, the fitting and cost of scleral lenses may be covered by medical insurance.
- Reimbursement rates and restrictions: The coverage and reimbursement rates for scleral lenses can vary greatly from one insurance provider to another. It is important to check with your specific insurance provider to understand the coverage details and any restrictions that may apply.
To determine the coverage of scleral lenses by your insurance provider, it is recommended to contact your insurance company directly or consult with your eye care practitioner. They can provide specific information about your insurance plan and help navigate the reimbursement process if applicable.