If you have progressive keratoconus and recently received the iLink® FDA-approved cross-linking procedure to slow or halt further progression of your condition, your optometrist might be getting ready to fit you for scleral lenses! Or, maybe you’ve been wearing them for years and want to brush up on your scleral lens knowledge or learn some new tips. Regardless, if you or a loved one wear scleral lenses, you may have questions about what they are and how to use them, including how to correctly put them in, take them out, clean them, and care for them.  

We’re here to give you all the info you need! Keep reading to learn more about scleral lenses and how they can be an effective way to correct vision if you have keratoconus. We’re also sharing an overview video from the Scleral Lens Education Society and a few how-to videos from the Contact Lens Institute of Nevada.

What are Scleral Lenses?

A scleral lens is a type of Rigid Gas Permeable (RGP) lens that many people with keratoconus use for vision correction. If you have ever worn soft contact lenses, you may notice that scleral lenses are a bit different. A scleral lens is made of durable plastic that can transmit oxygen, it’s larger in diameter than other RGP lenses, and it is designed to cover the entire cornea, plus a portion of the white of the eye.

Interested in additional information? The Scleral Lens Education Society has you covered! In the video below, two eye doctors discuss some commonly asked questions about scleral lenses and what to expect during a fitting.

What’s the Significance of Scleral Lenses if You Are Living with Progressive Keratoconus?

Scleral lenses were created to improve vision for individuals who have an irregularity on the front surface of the eye. The lenses create a smooth optical surface to help correct vision problems caused by keratoconus or other problems caused by an irregularly shaped cornea. Custom-made for each eye, scleral lenses not only improve vision, but also should be comfortable to wear. 

Don’t just take our word for it! According to Dr. Stephanie Woo, O.D., F.A.A.O., F.S.L.S., of the Contact Lens Institute of Nevada, “Scleral lenses are a fantastic option for managing vision in patients with keratoconus. Because the shape of the eye steepens and becomes irregular over time, the image displayed on the retina (the back of the eye) is distorted, resulting in blurry, distorted vision. Sometimes patients experience other visual disturbances such as double vision, ghosted vision, problems with glare, and problems with night driving. The good news is that specialty contact lenses such as scleral lenses can help reshape the incoming image, so that the vision is much clearer and less distorted. Scleral lenses are made from gas-permeable lens material. The lens is then filled with non-preserved saline, and then applied to the eye. The scleral lens helps to reshape the image that your eye takes in, resulting in a large improvement in your visual quality[1] while the lenses are on.

For many diagnosed with progressive keratoconus, the iLink® FDA-approved cross-linking procedure has helped to slow or halt the progression of their keratoconus. After the procedure, vision can be improved with the use of contact lenses, specifically scleral lenses![2] Dr. Woo emphasizes that “there is no research showing that scleral lenses or any type of contact lens slows down the progression of keratoconus. Therefore, patients who are successfully fit with scleral lenses may still need cross-linking. If keratoconus progression is left untreated, formerly well-fitting scleral lenses may no longer help you to see.”

Check Out These How-to Videos!

Caught up on the importance of scleral lenses if you’re living with keratoconus? Now, it’s time to brush up on your knowledge around best practices when using and caring for your lenses. The Contact Lens Institute of Nevada has created some incredibly useful how-to videos on scleral lenses. Whether you want to know what to expect from a lens fitting or how to insert a scleral lens with your fingers, watch the videos now!

What to Expect During a Scleral Contact Lens Fitting 

How to Insert a Scleral Contact Lens

How to Remove a Scleral Contact Lens

Scleral Lens Insertion with Fingers

How to Insert Your Scleral Lens with a Dental Ring or O Ring

How to Take Care of Your Contact Lenses with Hydrogen Peroxide

For more how-to videos, visit the Contact Lens Institute of Nevada’s website.

Connect with a Doctor Today!

Think it might be time for your first pair of scleral lenses? We’re here to support you on your keratoconus journey! If you’re looking for a physician who specializes in scleral lenses, use the Scleral Lens Education Society’s locator to find one near you. When it comes to treating your progressive keratoconus, if you want to learn more about iLink® and connect with a physician performing the procedure, use our Living with KC physician locator.

 To learn more about keratoconus and available treatment options, visit our website and follow Living with KC on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram!

Dr. Woo is a paid consultant of Glaukos.