Switching from Glasses to Scleral Lenses if You Have Keratoconus

Wearing glasses to correct nearsightedness (myopia) and an astigmatism is common in children with keratoconus. However, adolescents and adults with vision problems typically prefer wearing contact lenses to glasses. Since wearing soft contact lenses is normally not possible for people diagnosed with an astigmatism (and an astigmatism is often present in people diagnosed with keratoconus), switching to contact lens use can be problematic.

The following describes one way to help your transition to wearing scleral contact lenses if you have solely been wearing glasses to correct your vision. Meanwhile, one of the aims of the Precision Keratoconus Center is to enable you to determine whether wearing a particular type of contact lens is possible – or makes real-life sense – for you as a person afflicted with keratoconus.

Three Main Reasons to Choose Scleral Lenses over Other Contact Lenses

The National Keratoconus Foundation (NKF) notes that many keratoconus-afflicted adults experience eye pain. This eye pain may be worsened by wearing contact lenses that come into contact with the cornea, and most types of contact lenses do touch the cornea. In contrast, scleral lenses cover the entire sclera (or “white”) of the eye – so do not come in contact with the cornea.

Although Rigid Gas Permeable (RGP) contact lenses are the most common contact lenses worn by people with keratoconus, these lenses do touch the cornea due to their placement in the eye. Therefore, RGP lenses may not be usable in keratoconus-afflicted people who experience corneal pain (since the lenses may actually exacerbate the corneal pain).

According to an article in 2018 on the website of the University of Alabama’s School of Optometry, three reasons for choosing scleral lenses over RGP contact lenses are:

  • Better comfort of scleral contact lenses (as compared to RGP lenses);
  • Contact lens shape custom-designed for the patient’s eyes;
  • Ability to reduce experiencing dry eyes (as commonly occurs in people with keratoconus)

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Negative Experiences with Contact Lenses and After-Effects

A decrease in optometrist prescribing of RGP contact lenses has been occurring, while an increase has been occurring in the prescribing of scleral contact lenses by optometrists (per a Helio.com article). Both soft contact lenses and RGP lenses – due to their smaller size – can be more easily dislodged (and pushed to the side of the eye) than scleral lenses.

Likewise, soft contact lenses and RGP contact lenses are more likely to become lost once dislodged (and therefore require replacement), due to their typically small size. This can be frustrating for people who regularly wear either soft or RGP contact lenses.

If you had a prior negative experience with wearing contact lenses (i.e., experiencing increased corneal pain or dryness in your eyes), your anxiety level may be heightened during the first few days of wearing your new scleral lenses. Indeed, that past negative experience may prolong the usual time period that you need to adjust to wearing scleral lenses – and you may miss your old glasses during that time period.

By allowing yourself a longer duration than normal to adjust to wearing your new scleral lenses on a daily basis, your anxiety may be lessened to a point that inserting them into your eyes becomes a customary morning activity. Since improving your vision is generally the foremost goal of wearing scleral contact lenses, ensuring that you can correctly (and easily) insert them into your eyes is essential. Scheduling a consultation with the Precision Keratoconus Center  can aid you in determining whether switching from glasses to scleral contact lenses makes sense for you.

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