Scleral Contact Lenses: Treating Keratoconus and Other Issues

By Gordon Wong, OD on February 27, 2017

A woman holding glasses and a contact lensPatients who suffer from keratoconus experience vision problems as well as issues with the shape of their eyes. This can make wearing contacts complicated. Thankfully our La Jolla eye care center offers the lastest options in contact lenses. Our eye care experts will go over all of your contact lens option and help determine a solution that enhances vision without great discomfort.

We'd like to consider how scleral lenses may be an ideal option for treating keratoconus. Let's start first by going over the basics of keratoconus.

What Is Keratoconus?

Keratoconus is a condition in which the eye bulges outward rather than remaining round and spherical. In some ways, the eye resembles a football in shape rather than a baseball. This is typically the result of a thin cornea or the thinning of the corneas.

When keratoconus occurs, it can result in progressive nearsightedness and irregular astigmatism. It's estimated than 1 in every 2,000 people experience this condition.

Signs and Symptoms of Keratoconus

The most common signs and symptoms of keratoconus are as follows:

  • Blurry vision
  • Distorted vision
  • Issues with light sensitivity
  • Problems with night vision
  • Frequent changes in vision prescription
  • Sudden worsening of vision

If you notice any sudden worsening of vision, it's a good idea to consider seeing your eye doctor or a vision specialist.

About Scleral Contact Lenses

Scleral contact lenses are gas permeable contact lenses that are wider in diameter than traditional contacts. These large-diameter contact lenses cover up the entire surface of the cornea, effectively replacing a misshapen cornea with a perfectly formed corneal surface instead.

Scleral contact lenses may be used to treat patients who have other kinds of corneal shape irregulatieis. The space between the scleral contact lens and the cornea creates a fluid reservoir, which can help people who suffer from dry eye syndrome as well.

Good Candidates for Scleral Contact Lenses

Good candidates for scleral contact lenses tend to be people who suffer from serious cases of keratoconus. In early stages of the condition, a traditional gas permeable lens tends to be recommended. When that lens cannot be centered properly, that's when a scleral contact will be considered.

During the consultation process, we can determine if scleral contacts are best suited for you and your eyes. We will consider how advanced your keratoconus is and whether or not it warrants a large-diameter contact lens or other treatment options.

How Effective Are Scleral Contacts for Treating Keratoconus?

Scleral contact lenses are quite effective at treating keratoconus in mild to moderate stages. Patients experience improved vision and findd the lenses themselves to be relatively comfortable, all things considered. If the patient's cornea shape continues to change, treatment may be modified to take this into account.

Alternatives to Scleral Contacts

If scleral contact lenses are not ideal for a patient with keratoconus, there are other contact lenses to consider. These include:

  • Soft contact lenses
  • Piggyback lenses (a hard contact over a soft contact)
  • Hybrid contact lenses

In severe cases of keratoconus or in cases in which a patient's corneas are scarred, surgery may be recommended. This might include the use of cornea inserts or a full corneal transplant.

Learn More About Special Contact Lenses

For more information about contact lenses made specifically for people with issues affecting eye shape and corneal contour, be sure to contact our team of experienced eye doctors today. Our team looks forward to your visit and discussing these matters in greater detail.

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