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Benefits vs. Disadvantages of Scleral Contact Lenses

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A young woman putting on a scleral contact lens on her right eye

Scleral contact lenses can provide vision correction for individuals who face challenges wearing regular contact lenses. Benefits of scleral contact lenses include their ability to address the needs of people with irregular corneas and dry eye. However, disadvantages of scleral lenses include increased cost and fitting for the initial adaptation period. 

Since scleral lenses have benefits and disadvantages, a contact lens exam can help your eye doctor determine if they’re the right contacts for you and your vision needs.

What Are Scleral Contact Lenses?

Scleral contact lenses are a type of gas-permeable lens that are larger in diameter than standard contacts. They vault over the cornea (the clear front part of the eye) and rest on the sclera (the white part of the eye), creating a tear-filled chamber or vault over the cornea. 

Because scleral contacts don’t touch the cornea, they are renowned for their exceptional comfort and unique ability to provide crisp, clear vision for certain conditions, such as those with keratoconus, corneal irregularities, or ocular surface disease.

Benefits of Scleral Contact Lenses


Improved Comfort & Fit

One of the standout advantages of scleral lenses is improved comfort. Unlike traditional contact lenses that sit directly on the cornea and can cause discomfort or pain, scleral lenses offer a more comfortable wearing experience. 

The large size of scleral lenses means they’re less likely to move around or dislodge during blinking, which can be a common source of irritation with smaller lenses. Their gas permeability also allows for extra breathability. 

Enhanced Visual Acuity

Scleral contact lenses can provide sharp, stable vision for improved visual acuity. Due to their design, which maintains a consistent amount of moisture between the lens and the eye, they help to correct vision irregularities and minimize optical aberrations, resulting in a clearer image. 

Scleral lenses are often the go-to choice for individuals with certain eye conditions, such as astigmatism. They also provide better visual acuity for other corneal irregularities you can’t correct fully with glasses or smaller contact lenses.

Ideal for Irregular Corneas

Those with corneal irregularities or who have undergone surgery may find it difficult to wear traditional contact lenses. Scleral lenses can help provide a smooth, uniformly shaped optical surface and offer a practical and comfortable means to achieve clear, comfortable vision.

Reduced Risk of Corneal Scarring

Compared to smaller lenses, there’s a decreased risk of corneal scarring with scleral contacts. Because they don’t directly touch the cornea, they prevent rubbing and scratching, particularly in cases with sensitivity or corneal irregularity.

Disadvantages of Scleral Contact Lenses

While scleral contact lenses provide many benefits, they might not be ideal for some contact lens wearers. Your eye doctor can help you weigh the disadvantages based on your vision and eye health needs. 

Higher Cost Compared to Traditional Lenses

The cost of scleral contact lenses can be higher than traditional contacts. Reasons can include the specialized material of scleral lenses and the increased complexity of the fitting process. You can think of purchasing scleral lenses as an upfront cost that can pay off in the long term.

Maintenance & Cleaning Requirements

A close-up of a scleral contact lens being cleaned using a contact lens cleaning solution.

Scleral lenses are not a daily disposable lens that just gets thrown away. They have an extended lifespan and need cleaning and disinfecting, just like any other multi-use contact lens. However, their larger size and more intricate design require more care and attention for proper hygiene. It’s essential to diligently follow the cleaning instructions to prevent eye infections and maintain eye health.

Initial Adaptation Period

Adjusting to wearing scleral lenses can take time and patience. Even though they offer advantages in terms of comfort, the larger size and the process of inserting and removing them may be a learning curve for new users. Your eyes might also take some time to get used to the sensation of the lens in the early days of wear or adjustments to the lens until you become acclimated to it and it fits right.

Weighing the Benefits & Disadvantages of Scleral Lenses

Discuss the advantages and potential drawbacks of scleral contact lenses with your eye doctor. If you value their enhanced comfort and visual clarity and are diligent about lens care, their benefits may outweigh the disadvantages. However, if budget constraints or the need for easier maintenance are of primary concern, traditional contact lenses or other vision correction methods might be a better option for you.

Your eye doctor can evaluate your eye health, and vision correction needs to determine whether scleral lenses are a viable solution. They can also provide training on lens insertion, removal, and maintenance for your safety and satisfaction with scleral lenses.

Specialized Contact Lenses

Opting for scleral contact lenses is not a decision you can take quickly or by yourself. It’s crucial to weigh the benefits and disadvantages with your eye doctor based on your individual lifestyle and vision needs.

If you have dry eye or corneal irregularities that make wearing traditional contacts impossible, book an appointment with Flamborough Family Eyecare for a contact lens exam and recommendations on which contact lenses suit you.  

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Written by Flamborough Family Eyecare

Our goal at Flamborough Family Eyecare is to exceed your expectations. We strive to provide each patient with an individualized eye care experience using our team’s expertise in combination with diagnostic technology, making sure every detail is taken into account. You’ll leave our office with your questions answered and your concerns addressed.

Contact us today to book an appointment in Waterdown.

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