Scleral lenses used as a treatment option for Keratoconus.
Keratoconus is a progressive eye disease that causes the cornea to take on an a cone shape. Normally, the cornea is shaped like a dome, but if you have keratoconus, your cornea will become thin and bo outward. Since the cornea refracts most of the light that comes into the eye, this cone shape can cause significantly distorted vision.
Fortunately, keratoconus occurs in less than 1% of the U.S. population, but it does tend to run in families. In most cases, it appears in the teenage years or in your early 20’s. It can affect one or both eyes and can get worse quickly. For this reason, annual eye examinations are important, especially for people who have the condition or have a family history of it.
Scleral lenses are used as a treament option for this condition. These lenses completely resurface the front of the eye and cover-up the bumpy cone-shaped cornea. The edges of the contact lens rest on the white part of the eye sclera. There are very few nerve endings in this area as compared to the cornea which is full of nerve endings and pain receptors. A standard hard contact lens which rests at the edges of the cornea is very uncomfortable compared to a scleral lens. Scleral lenses can also be used for other corneal irregularities, not just keratoconus. There are probably 20 different corneal dystrophies that can result in a irregular cornea. The scleral lens has a layer of saline underneath it which keeps the cornea moist all day long.
Sometimes patients still require a pair of glasses over top of the scleral lenses to pick up any prescription that the scleral lenses didn’t correct. Also, Eyemed and Vision Service Plan usually cover keratoconus contact lens services. So this is something to definitely keep in mind if you are contemplating trying these contact lenses.
If you have Keratoconus or know someone who does and are interested in looking into scleral lenses as a treatment option, please contact our clinic.