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What are scleral lenses?

Scleral lenses are large diameter rigid gas permeable lenses ranging from 14 mm to 25 mm in diameter (soft contact lenses are on average 8-12.5 mm). They are designed so that all of the weight of the lens is on the sclera (the white part of the eye) while avoiding contact with the cornea. The lens creates a tear reservoir over the cornea, providing excelent comfort and vision. Scleral lenses have within the last decade become a popular alternative to soft contact lenses.

Who could benefit from scleral lenses?       scleral lens

Traditionally, scleral lenses were considered in patients with various ocular surface pathologies, as they provide corneal protection and vision improvement. However, scleral lenses are great alternatives to patients who find soft contact lenses intolerable and to patients who suffer from dry eyes.

Irregular corneas: conditions such as keratoconus, and pellucid marginal corneal degeneration cause irregularity of the cornea. Surgery (keratoplasty, refractive surgery) can also lead to corneal irregularity. If the cornea is not smooth, it is difficult to acheive good vision with spectacles or most soft contact lenses. Scleral lenses provide optimal vision improvement by "correcting" the irregular cornea. The lens vaults the irregular/pathological cornea entirely, in essence creating a "new corneal surface".

Conditions that affect tear film: Some patients have disorders that affect the quality or quantity of tears that help keep the eye's surface smooth and healthy. These conditions include but not limited to:

  • Severe dry eye syndrome
  • Graft vs. Host Disease
  • Sjögren’s syndrome
  • Stevens Johnson syndrome
  • Neurotrophic keratopathy
  • Patients who cannot close their lids completely

The fluid reservoir beneath the scleral lens may improve comfort, and may allow the corneal surface to heal - acting to protect the corneal surface.

Intolerance to other forms of correction: some patients with refractive errors (nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism etc) may be unable to wear other forms of correction - namely soft contact lenses for numerous reasons. These candidates may find better comfort and/or improved vision with scleral lenses.

Are scleral lenses new?

They are not new - just "resurfacing". Scleral lenses were actually the first contact lenses described in medical literature in the late 1800s. Challenges with manufacturing, and a lack of oxygen permeability, scleral lenses did not become popular at the time. In the next century, corneal rigid gas permeable lenses (RGP/hard contact lenses) and soft contact lenses became increasingly popular.

RGP and soft contact lenses could not solve some of the problems caused by corneal irregularity and other eye diseases. Scleral lenses gained popularity in the 1980s when high oxygen material became available and could be reliably manufactured with more sophisticated designs.

For more details and information on scleral lenses, please contact the office at (780) 462-7500!


Mission Statement:

Our mission is to provide comprehensive, personalized, vision care utilizing state of the art instruments and technology.

Vision Statement:

Our Vision is our patients, whose needs are met by a dedicated, enthusiastic team committed to providing the best professional service possible.

Our Goal:

Our goal is to educate our patients, about their eye health and visual needs for a lifetime.