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A Guide to Scleral Lenses

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Many people can’t wear standard contact lenses. This is especially true of patients with severe dry eye syndrome, keratoconus, irregular astigmatism, among other conditions.

That’s why eye doctors often prescribe scleral lenses to such patients. These specialized gas permeable contact lenses have a wide diameter and are about the same size as soft lenses.  They extend over the entire corneal surface, making them effective and comfortable for people with irregular corneas.  It give the benefit of clear comfortable vision.

With just a little practice, scleral lenses become easy to insert and remove.

Safety and Hygiene for Scleral Lenses

It is important to handle scleral lenses correctly.  Handle them by the curved sides of the lens rather than by the lens edges.  Handling them by the lens edge can warp the lens.   We will teach you how to clean and disinfect your lenses.  Before handling, inserting, or removing scleral lenses, it is important to:

  • Always wash your hands thoroughly with non-oily soap or antibacterial-based pump soap and dry them with a clean lint-free towel or paper towel.
  • Sit at a desk or table and place a lint-free cloth down to insert and remove lenses. Avoid bathrooms, as they often contain more germs than other rooms in the home.  Think about what else gets dropped into your sink.
  • Inspect your lenses.  Make sure there are no chips or cracks and protein deposits on the lens surface. If you notice any defects or are unsure whether your lenses are damaged, don’t wear them until your eye doctor has inspected them.

How to Insert Scleral Lenses

  1. We recommend using a hydrogen peroxide solution to disinfect the lenses.  After 6 hours, the peroxide has turned to water and you can use that to rinse your lenses if you feel you need to do that.
  2. You can balance the scleral lens on your index finger, or on your index and middle finger, or if you need to, you can even use your index finger, your middle, and your thumb.  That is known as the tripod method.  We also can use a suction cup, but its is best to use your fingers.  It is easier to wash your fingers and you will never forget them at home!
  3. Fill the inner bowl of the lens with solution;, such as Natural Ophthalmic Thin, or a preservative-free saline solution to make sure ther are no air bubbles between the eye and the lens.
  4. Facing down, look into a mirror sitting on the desk or table.
  5. Insert the lens directly onto the center of your cornea.
  6. Wash the lens case under warm water and let it to air dry.

How to Remove Scleral Lenses

There are 2 ways to remove scleral contact lenses: with your fingers, or with the aid of the suction cup.

  1. Try Scleral Lenses Thumbnail.jpg

    Insert a drop of preservative-free saline solution or artificial tears to loosen the lens.

  2. Look down onto a flat surface (a mirror or towel can be placed there).
  3. Use your middle finger to open your eyelid wider than the lens diameter.
  4. Put one finger on the lower lid and one finger on the upper lid,
  5. Don't put your finger on the lens itself.
  6. The lids should be on the outside of the lens.  The top lid at the top edge of the lens and the bottom lid at the bottom edge of the lens.  If the lid is not at the edge of the lens, the lens will not come out.
  7. Gently push on both sides and the lens will come out.

Method 2 - Suction Tool

  1. While looking at a mirror in front of you, hold your bottom lid open.
  2. Using the suction tool, remove the lens by tilting the lens up and out of the eye.

How To Care for Your Scleral Lenses

We are here to help you.  If you need help, call us and we will walk you through it.  In our office, we always have patients do this 3 times so you can learn how to do this and you have the confidence that you will be able to do this at home.

Never use tap water in any area of lens care, whether to rinse or fill your lens case. Tap water contains a multitude of dangerous microorganisms, including acanthamoeba, that can cause a severe, painful, and sight-threatening infection. Dry your hands, preferably with a lint-free towel, before handling your lenses.

Remove Before Going to Sleep

Most people can comfortably wear scleral contact lenses for up to 12-14 hours at a time. Remove your lenses about an hour before going to sleep.  If your lenses fog up in the middle of the day, it’s best to remove them and try various methods to clear up the fogginess before reinserting.  You can also use lens rewetting drops.

Use a Peroxide Cleaner

We recommend that you use your index finger to clean both sides of the lens  Do that for about 20 seconds on either side.  Then disinfect your lenses using a hydrogen peroxide system that is specific for contact lenses.  Leave them in the peroxide for 6 hours.  The catalyst in the case changes the hydrogen peroxide into water and oxygen gas. If you put the lenses in before they have been in solution for 6 hours, they will sting or burn because the peroxide has not yet turned into water.  Wash he case with warm water and let it air dry.

Routinely Clean and Replace Your Lens Case

it is a good idea to replace your lens case every 3 months to prevent infection due to bacterial contamination.

Clean the storage case every day.

Replace your lenses every year.  Usually about that time, there is buildup on the lens, even with the best cleaning.  At about that time, then lenses start to become warped.  Sometimes, when we go longer than a year, problems ensue.

At Family Eye Care, we can recommend the best wearing schedule for your contact lenses to ensure the highest level of comfort and visual acuity.  Call us to schedule an eye exam and a scleral lens fitting today.

Family Eye Care serves patients from Old Bridge, East Brunswick, Woodbridge, and Edison, all throughout New Jersey.



Q: Why do I need to use preservative-free solutions to fill the lens?

  • A: Long-term exposure to preservatives can cause corneal toxicity or sensitivity that results in irritation and redness.

Q: How long do my application and removal plungers last?

  • A: Plungers should be replaced every 3 months, or sooner if necessary.

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