What are scleral lenses?

picture of a woman

What are scleral lenses?

picture of a woman with glasses

What are scleral lenses?

picture of a man with glasses

What are scleral lenses?

picture of a man with glasses

Unless you have worn contact lenses before, you may not realize that there are lots of different styles and materials to choose from. Since every patient and eye is unique, there’s no ‘one-lens-fits-all’ solution, and instead, it’s important to select the variety that best suits your eyes and your visual needs. One type of contact lens that you may not be familiar with is the scleral lenses.


What are Scleral Lenses?


Scleral contact lenses are a type of specialty contact lens. This is because their design differs from that of regular contact lenses. In fact, there are several distinct differences.




Firstly, they are much larger than regular contact lenses. There are a number of sizes available, but even the smallest scleral lens is bigger in diameter than a conventional contact lens. Scleral lenses get their name from the fact that they rest on the sclera, which is the white part of the eye.


  • Semi-scleral lenses: are the smallest variety, and the edge of the lens rests on the junction between the cornea and the sclera.

  • Mini scleral lenses: are the mid-sized variety, and they come to rest on the anterior sclera.

  • Full scleral lenses: are the largest variety, and their edge rests on the outer sclera.


Corneal Clearance


The other thing that makes scleral lenses different from other types of contact lenses is that they don’t make contact with the entire surface of the eye, but instead vault over the cornea, leaving a clear gap between the back of the lens and the front of the cornea. This gap is important for several reasons. Firstly, it can accommodate any corneal abnormalities. Secondly, the gap acts as a reservoir for tear film.


Who are Scleral Lenses Recommended for?


Technically, there’s nothing to stop anyone wearing scleral contact lenses, and indeed, they do have some definite benefits. For example, their larger size can make them more stable on the eye, while the gas-permeable material that they are made from helps oxygen reach the surface of the eyes, keeping them healthy and hydrated.


Nevertheless, there are some patients that are particularly good candidates for scleral lenses. These include patients with:


Dry Eye Syndrome


This common condition occurs when a person doesn’t produce enough tear film, their tear film doesn’t have the perfect balance of oil, water, and proteins, or the tear film drains too quickly. There are lots of causes of dry eye syndrome, from blockages in the ducts that make tear film to being in smoky, dusty, or dry environments. People with dry eyes often find wearing contact lenses very difficult, but the design of scleral lenses makes them ideal for patients with this condition.


Corneal Irregularities


The cornea is the clear dome that covers the front part of the eye. Lots of people have a cornea that isn’t perfectly domed. This causes light to be refracted incorrectly when it enters the eyes, causing conditions like myopia and astigmatism. Issues arising from irregularly shaped corneas can’t be completely corrected using glasses or conventional contact lenses, so scleral lenses, which provide sharper and more accurate vision, are recommended. Scleral lenses also provide space to accommodate any irregularities, such as the bulge that characterizes a condition called keratoconus.


If you would like more information about scleral lenses, or if you would like to schedule an appointment to see if you are a good candidate for this type of specialty contact lens, please get in touch with our expert team of eye care specialists.  


Learn more about Scleral lenses & if they are right for you, contact LOOK! Optometry in Manhattan Beach, CA at (310) 796-5665 to book a consultation.

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