Imagine draping a tablecloth over a table with piles of clutter, and then sitting down at the table for a meal. You can imagine what an uncomfortable eating experience that would be.
The same concept can apply to contact lenses and eyes. When the eye’s surface is smooth and even, soft contact lenses can provide clear and comfortable vision.
But what happens when the eye’s surface, the cornea, is uneven or misshapen, like the tablecloth over the cluttered table? A regular contact lens just isn’t able to compensate for these irregularities, so your vision will be blurred and the lens will be uncomfortable.
The solution? Scleral contact lenses.
Scleral lenses are the answer for many people with a wide range of corneal abnormalities and diseases, including corneal dystrophies. At Fox Chase Family Eye Care in Philadelphia, we make it our mission to help patients reach their visual goals despite their eye conditions, and can help you too.
What is Corneal Dystrophy?
Corneal dystrophy refers to a group of rare genetic eye diseases that alter the shape and smoothness of the cornea.
Most corneal dystrophies cause noticeable changes in vision, vision loss and ocular pain, while others are asymptomatic. Most corneal dystrophies worsen over time.
Some examples of corneal dystrophies include:
- Fuch’s dystrophy
- Lattice dystrophy
- Map-dot-fingerprint dystrophy
- Macular corneal dystrophy
- Reis-Bucklers corneal dystrophy
The only way to diagnose corneal dystrophy is during a comprehensive eye exam, where your eye doctor will use a slit-lamp, digital camera and other technologies to analyze the cornea in depth and make an accurate diagnosis.
Can Patients Who Have Corneal Dystrophy Wear Contact Lenses?
Patients with irregular corneas often have difficulty wearing standard contact lenses. Rigid gas-permeable or scleral contact lenses are generally a better fit.
Because corneal dystrophies can present in many forms, your optometrist will recommend the most suitable contact lenses for your condition and lifestyle.
What are Scleral Contact Lenses?
Scleral lenses are specific hard lenses that are extra-wide in diameter. This allows them to comfortably vault over the cornea to create a new, smooth surface above any irregularities.
The lens sits securely on the eye and doesn’t move around much, so your vision stays stable and clear throughout the day.
The gap between the cornea and scleral lens is filled with fluid that hydrates the eye while allowing a free flow of oxygen to pass through. Sclerals also protect the cornea from irritation brought on by eyelid rubbing.
Most patients agree that scleral lenses provide a higher level of comfort and visual clarity, compared to standard contact lenses.
It should be noted that patients with certain types of corneal dystrophy, like Fuch’s dystrophy, may not be candidates for scleral contact lenses if corneal swelling is present.
Scleral Contact Lens Fittings in Philadelphia
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with any corneal condition or disease, Fox Chase Family Eye Care can help.
Our optometric team is passionate about offering patients the gift of clear, comfortable and healthy vision.
To schedule your consultation, call Fox Chase Family Eye Care in Philadelphia today!
Our practice serves patients from Philadelphia, Jenkintown, Cheltenham, and Fox Chase, Pennsylvania and surrounding communities.
Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Uri Schechter
Q: What conditions are scleral lenses used for?
A: Scleral contact lenses are prescribed to patients with a wide range of eye conditions, including moderate to severe dry eye syndrome, corneal diseases, severe astigmatism, giant papillary conjunctivitis and other corneal conditions. The healing properties of scleral lenses also make them an excellent option for patients recovering from LASIK and other eye surgeries.
Q: Why are scleral lenses more expensive than standard contact lenses?
A: Because scleral contact lenses are highly customized for each eye, the prescribing and fitting of these lenses require extensive specialized analysis, specific technology and years of experience to find the optimum lens for your needs. They’re made of high-quality, durable, gas-permeable material, and they can last up to 1-3 years, which further adds to their value. Most patients who wear scleral lenses agree that they’re truly worth the investment.