The evolution, as well as the history of the scleral contact lenses, is thoroughly interesting. They have come a long way from the first contraptions made quite a long time ago, and they are now witness to a new rebirth. Even so, because of their long history, scleral contact lenses have always been the subject of quite a heated debate. Here is what we want to clear up. When do you need scleral contact lenses, if ever?
What Are Scleral Contact Lenses?
Simply put, at the beginning of the contact lens’ history, there only existed the scleral ones. That’s right. You read it well. They were invented back in 1887 in a simultaneous manner by some physicians from France and Germany. They were following a few drawings made by Leonardo Da Vinci and used an idea borrowed from astronomy.
In the beginning, they used to make scleral contact lenses from Plexiglas. In modern times, however, manufacturers use glass more so than anything else. They also use a series of very complicated measurements because the contact lens in itself has to be unique and fit the patient’s eye like a glove.
However, just like any other type of contact lens out there, sclerals have both positive as well as adverse effects on the human eye and the tissue which surrounds it. Even though patients and doctors generally believe that scleral contact lenses are a very useful solution to many ophthalmologic problems, they may have some issues as well. Therefore, let’s take a look at the most common myths that surround this type of lenses and see if we can debunk them.
Myths about Scleral Contact Lenses
#1. They are difficult to fit in
That’s a myth all the way. Scleral contact lenses are, indeed, bigger than soft ones, but that is the exact reason why patients love them so much. They provide ample coverage, and their size ensures that they do not fall off during the day. Not to mention how much easier it is to find a dropped contact if it is bigger than usual.
A larger lens does not necessarily mean that it is more difficult to put in. The trick here is not to think of the curves of the lens, like with all the others. Instead, when trying to fit them in, you should reflect on the clearance factor or about depth.
#2. They are very expensive
The price depends on what you compare them with. For example, if you were to compare scleral contact lenses to corneal GP ones, then they indeed, are expensive. However, if you match them against, let’s say, a year’s supply of soft or hybrid ones, the difference is negligible.
Moreover, when you think about the fact that they are far better than and more comfortable than GP ones and help your vision a lot more than the soft ones, then the added cost will be of no more concern to you.
#3. You use them as a last resort
Here is where we get to answer our most important question. When do you use or how do you know you need scleral contact lenses? Many people tend to believe that using scleral contact lenses is truly a last resort. However, modern times have debunked this myth. More and more practitioners see that they are, in fact, very easy to use and fit and that they provide a level of comfort never seen before.
You can use scleral lenses to correct any kind of refractive errors in your eyes. You can use them as well in case you suffer from presbyopia. This is the disease in which your near vision begins to get blurry. If you happen to see people holding books, newspapers or restaurant menus at arm’s length to be able to read them, they, most likely, suffer from presbyopia. Scleral contact lenses are a solution to this affliction.
Another category of people who need to use sclera contact lenses is athletes. Since they are so physically active, they need a pair of lenses that cover the eye well and which are never in danger of falling off. You may also use these lenses if you suffer from nystagmus. This syndrome is characterized by very rapid and involuntary movements of your eyes. They also work for people currently struggling with dry eyes and who are in dire need of lens correction.
Therefore, if you suffer from any of these conditions or are currently experiencing some of their symptoms, you might want to refer to your ophthalmologist as soon as possible for some scleral contact lenses.
#4. Scleral contact lenses are niche products, which aims at a small group of patients
This particular myth comes in relation to the previous one. At the current moment, these lenses are, indeed, niche ones. However, it should be the job of practitioners across the country to make them a lot more desirable. They also need to make people understand a lot better these types of lenses. The curious and interesting, at the same time, thing is that we do have the power to make these lenses mainstream once more.
#5. We are not aware of what long-term effects the lenses have in our eyes
Evidently, this myth cannot have a black or white answer. It all comes down to what you understand by ‘long-term.’ So far, people have been using scleral contact lenses on a daily basis for ten years. There are no reports out there to indicate that, in this past decade, the lenses have harmed anyone’s eyesight or tissues.
The main concerns regard the loss of endothelial cells or the ones that make up your cornea and increased pressure in the eyeball. There are also some concerns about damaging the goblet cells because the lenses are pressing on them all the time. However, once again, we must refer to science and medicine and point out that there are no studies to indicate this kind of damage to the eye.
The medical community is planning to conduct further studies because the matter at hand needs to find a solution. However, until there are some reports of cases with such damage, there is nothing to fear.
What Are the Benefits of Scleral Contact Lenses?
Here are some of the great benefits that come along with wearing scleral contact lenses.
- Increased level of comfort
As noted above, once you start wearing this type of lenses, you will experience comfort like never before. The reason is that these lenses, unlike all others, are able to fit perfectly onto an irregular and personalized surface. They can vault the cornea, which is an irregular surface, and land on the sclera, which is more regular than the other one. They can be used in people who have corneal scars or irregular astigmatism to improve their vision.
There is very little movement, if at all, involved, once you put on the lenses. This makes for an incredible wearing experience, such as no other type of contact can offer.
- They are very stable
Seeing as they are quite larger than all the rest and that manufacturers custom make them to fit your eye perfectly, there is no reason why they wouldn’t be stable as well. The lens itself will not decenter as you move and the day progresses. They will not dislodge from your eye and fall, either. This idea translates into the fact that you can lead the dynamic life you’ve always wanted without the fear of losing your contacts.
- Scleral contact lenses reduce starbursts and glare
Since they have such large optic zones, the lenses will stay centered over your pupil. Consequently, they will allow you to see without any glare or flare. The other, more traditional lenses, since they are smaller than the rest, are also a bit more mobile than scleral lenses. Therefore, sometimes, as you blink, they tend to shift their peripheral curves into the axis vision area. This effect is what creates the starbursts and reflections of light.
- They also reduce the level of dryness
We mentioned in an above paragraph that people who suffer from dry eyes should turn to scleral contact lenses instead of the standard ones. Here is why. Scleral lenses come with a layer of tear, which laces between themselves and the cornea. It remains consistent as the day is long and keeps your cornea with enough lubrication at all times.
Therefore, the level of moisture and comfort is so high that it allows you to wear the lenses without any problems an entire day. There are users out there who report not even needing to use fake tears while applying, taking out or wearing the lenses.
When you look at all the uses one can find for scleral contact lenses and see all the benefits that they have you cannot help but wonder the following. Why do these lenses still find themselves at the bottom of the choice list for many patients and users alike?