Treating Keratoconus with Scleral Lenses

December 31, 2020

Have you been experiencing eye redness, swelling, and light sensitivity? Is your vision slightly blurred and distorted? If so, you may be experiencing the early onset of keratoconus. This is a progressive eye condition that occurs when your cornea thins out, weakens, and bulges like a cone. As you know, the cornea acts as the outermost lens of your eye. The change in corneal shape causes the light rays entering your eye to become out of focus. This makes everyday tasks, such as reading and driving, difficult.


Causes and Risk Factors


Experts have studied keratoconus for many years. But the condition continues to be poorly understood. According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, its definitive cause remains unknown. Nevertheless, a person’s predisposition to develop keratoconus is believed to be present at birth. Aside from genetics, other factors may increase a person’s risk of developing keratoconus. These include age, chronic eye rubbing, and constant inflammation due to irritants or allergies.


What Are Scleral Contact Lenses?


One of the most successful devices in treating keratoconus is scleral lenses. These are lenses that are slightly larger than the usual soft contacts. Scleral lenses are especially beneficial in patients with advanced keratoconus. This is because the device doesn’t dislodge easily and provide lens stability. Scleral lenses are also an excellent treatment option for other conditions that require medically necessary optical appliances.


Unlike regular contacts that rest on the cornea, scleral lenses rest on the sclera and vault over the entire cornea. The sclera is the white of your eyes covering most of the eyeball’s outer layer. Eye doctors fit these lenses to not tough the cornea. In fact, there’s a space created between the lens and the cornea. Scleral lenses replace the irregularly shaped cornea with a flawlessly smooth optical surface. This device corrects vision problems brought about by keratoconus and other eye conditions. Scleral lenses are comfortable to wear even for patients with severe dry eye disease who are usually unable to tolerate wearing contacts.


Diagnosing and Treating Keratoconus


Your eye doctor will have to conduct a thorough medical history check and eye examination to assess your eyes’ health. They will also perform several tests to diagnose keratoconus. These include corneal topography, slit-lamp exam, and pachymetry.


Eye doctors focus their treatment on correcting vision problems depending on the stage of the keratoconus. The early stages of this disease are currently treated using prescription glasses to correct refractive errors.


Keratoconus often takes several years to advance from early to late stage. However, the condition can get worse quickly for some patients. When the cornea swells and starts to scar, it loses its smoothness. Vision grows even more blurry and distorted. As the condition worsens, patients may have to wear scleral lenses as the eyeglasses can no longer provide clear vision. Progressive cases may be treated with corneal collagen cross-linking or the use of a corneal ring. More severe ones may require a corneal transplant.


Learn more about treating keratoconus with scleral lenses, contact Eye Associates of New York in New York, NY at (212) 650-4888.

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