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Scleral Lenses: Prosthetic Surface for Eyes

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DP Eyecare Column: Scleral Lenses: prosthetic surface for eyes

Q: I have been told I have unusually shaped corneas, and suffer with chronic dryness. Glasses are not very clear for my vision, and contacts are too dry for me. What else is there?

A: There are actually many causes for this sort of thing, and commonly they can make vision less clear and less comfortable. This means that the common ways we prescribe glasses or contact lenses may not be satisfactory for you.

I just read an update from The Johns Hopkins Wilmer Eye Institute, probably the finest research and surgical eye center in the world, located in Baltimore, where they are trying to inform the public about a new treatment for patients just like you. They announced that they are now prescribing “scleral lenses” to correct eye surface disorders. Guess what….we have been prescribing these for several years right here in Morgantown!

Scleral lenses are larger than normal contacts, and made of a breathable plastic that is not soft and floppy, and not rigid like glass, but somewhere in between. The prosthetic lens is filled with sterile saline and placed on the eye surface. This fluid-filled scleral lens covers any dry areas of discomfort, and the large perfect surface corrects vision more sharply. Patients are generally amazed right away how good their eyes feel, and how sharp their vision is! The lenses are inserted in the morning and removed in the evening. With good care, scleral gas-permeable lenses should last a year or more.

Scleral lenses are not widely known, I think because they are seldom prescribed and are more expensive. While anyone could wear a scleral lens, we generally reserve them for patients with certain eye disorders or diseases. Sclerals also cost more. We have found mixed success in getting vision plans to pay toward scleral lens prescribing….some do, and some do not. While this is a medical eye problem, we find most medical insurances do not cover “medially necessary contacts”. Many patients these days can use a medical credit card like Care Credit, or their Flexible Spending Account, to pay for the treatment.

Step one, ask your eye doctor if they prescribe scleral contact lenses. If not, ask for a referral, or seek a provider that is prescribing these specialty medical lenses.

But good news…..you certainly do not need to drive to Baltimore for this level of specialized care.

Call Morgantown Eye Associates on 304-381-5353 to schedule an eye exam with our Morgantown optometrist.

Alternatively book an appointment online here CLICK FOR AN APPOINTMENT

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