Scleral contact lenses have long been the way to provide clear and comfortable vision to people with keratoconus, severe dry eye syndrome, irregularly shaped corners and patients recovering from corneal transplants and refractive surgeries.
But did you know that scleral lenses are also a great option for active people who need their lenses to sit securely and not pop out? Many people find that traditional contact lenses don’t provide the stable and clear vision required for their active lifestyle. This is especially true for athletes with high astigmatism who want to achieve a greater level of clarity comparable to LASIK surgery.
Whether you like to run marathons, go skiing or play sports that require sharp vision, scleral lenses can provide the vision correction and peace of mind you’ve been seeking.
What Makes Scleral Lenses Different?
Scleral lenses are hard, gas-permeable contact lenses that settle on the eye in a more stable position than regular soft or hard contacts. That’s because scleral lenses have a larger diameter than standard lenses, so they’re less prone to falling out or moving on the eye.
In addition, these lenses vault over the cornea to rest on the sclera, the whites of the eyes, on a cushion of fluid, providing additional comfort. Your eyes stay hydrated when exposed to harsh winds during winter sports or in hot and dry conditions.
These features make sclerals a good option for active people and athletes.
What Else Are Scleral Lenses Used For?
Scleral lenses are the go-to lenses if you have an irregularly shaped cornea or keratoconus, which causes the lens to thin, bulge and develop a cone-like shape. As keratoconus progresses, patients often can’t achieve clear vision from eyeglasses or regular contact lenses.
The fact that scleral lenses are custom-designed to fit a patient’s eyes can make them the best option for people who can’t wear traditional hard or soft lenses.
Who Is a Good Candidate for Scleral Lenses?
The following people may find a particular benefit from scleral lenses:
- Active people and athletes who need clear vision and want contacts that will stay firmly in place
- People with irregular corneas, such as keratoconus
- Those with dry eye syndrome
- Post-corneal transplant patients
- Those who have poor vision due to complications after eye surgery.
Can You Play Sports with Scleral Lenses?
Thanks to their greater width, scleral lenses stay in place on the eye more than standard lenses while simultaneously providing clear crisp vision. Many wearers also find them more comfortable than other contact lenses. This makes sclerals ideal for most sports, including baseball, basketball, cycling and skiing.
There are, however, some direct contact sports, such as karate, boxing and wrestling, where sclerals aren’t recommended due to the risk of eye injury if the lens is damaged.
Do Scleral Lenses Treat Keratoconus?
Scleral lenses aren’t a cure. However, sclerals are highly effective at correcting vision if you have irregular-shaped corneas because the lenses vault over the cornea and rest on the sclera, compensating for the misshapen cornea.
If you love sports, live an active lifestyle, have an irregularly shaped cornea or dry eyes, consult with Rajeev K. Raghu, OD, FAAO, Diplomate, ABO at The Eye Center At Jackson to see whether scleral lenses are the right solution for you.
Our practice serves patients from Jackson, Lakewood, Freehold, and Tom's River, New Jersey and surrounding communities.
- A: Athletes are typically exposed to challenging environmental conditions, such as dust, chalk, sand and wind. These can all interfere with the comfort of wearing soft contact lenses. Because scleral lenses provide a seal over the eye’s surface, the eyes are better protected from the elements, allowing athletes more stable, clear, crisp vision.
- A: No. Custom-designed scleral lenses help patients with corneal irregularities, like astigmatism and keratoconus, achieve dramatic improvements in visual acuity and comfort. These lenses vault over the cornea and rest on the sclera, thus creating a new optical surface. Moreover, the reservoir of pure saline solution between the back surface of the lens and the front of the cornea ensures that the eye is always in a liquid environment, ensuring optimal vision and comfort for those with keratoconus.