Scleral Contact Lenses: A Perfect Fit for Irregular Corneas and Dry Eyes!

Scleral Contact Lenses - A Perfect Fit for Irregular Corneas & Dry Eyes!

Scleral contact lenses are specialty contacts primarily used to improve the vision of people with corneal irregularities. In fact, the most common reasons to wear scleral lenses are if you have keratoconus, had a corneal transplant, or are suffering from severe dry eye disease.

In the video below, Dr. Jaclyn Garlich talks about what you need to know before being fit with scleral contact lenses.

If you don’t like the video or want more information, continue reading.

What are scleral lenses?

Scleral contacts are large, bowl-shaped hard contact lenses that range in size, typically from about 15 mm to 18 mm in diameter.

Unlike standard hard lenses, sclerals rest on the white part of your eye and vault over your cornea. By resting on the white part of your eye, instead of your highly sensitive cornea, they’re actually quite comfortable.

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This is what a scleral contact lens looks like

Being fit with scleral lenses

When fit with a scleral contact lens, your eye doctor will take a few measurements of your cornea before selecting a lens to put on your eye.

Because fitting these lenses is more difficult than standard lenses, it may take a few trips to your eye doctor to get things just right! This is also why being fit with scleral contacts lenses is typically more expensive than other contacts.

RELATED: Daily vs Monthly Contact Lenses: Weighing the Pros and Cons

These are two different sized scleral lens plungers

Putting in and taking out scleral lenses

Before being placed on your eye, these lenses need to be filled with preservative-free saline solution. This is wonderful for patients with dryness because their eye is bathed in saline all day long! Also, by vaulting over the cornea, these lenses create a smooth refracting surface for clearer, sharper vision.

Taking out scleral contacts is different than taking out regular lenses. In fact, most patients prefer to use a scleral plunger to remove these lenses (pictured above).

RELATED: Contact Lenses for Keratoconus: What Are Your Options?

How long do scleral lenses last?

Like standard hard contacts, scleral lenses can last for up to a couple of years! This all depends on how you take care of them, how you’re seeing, and how they fit your eye.

Overall, scleral contact lenses can be life-changing for patients with severe corneal disease and even for patients that have struggled with other types of contacts in the past. To see if you’re a candidate for scleral contacts, talk to your eye care provider for more information.


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Hi, my name is Jaclyn Garlich and I’m an optometrist practicing in Milwaukee, WI. I grew up in St. Louis, MO and I went to optometry school at the New England College of Optometry in Boston, MA. After optometry school, I did a residency in primary care and ocular diseases at the St. Louis VAMC. One thing I love about optometry is making my patients see better but, in particular, those patients with severe corneal dystrophies. I fit a lot of specialty contact lenses and I find it very rewarding to see a patient go from 20/200 vision to 20/20 vision. When I’m not practicing optometry I write an optometry newsletter called 20/20 Glance. It’s a once a week email delivered every Monday morning with a rundown of what’s new in optometry for the past week. It’s an easy way for the busy clinician to stay up-to-date.