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How to Properly Insert Scleral Lenses

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Close-up of a woman's hands holding a contact lens container while her right hand holds a contact lens.

Scleral lenses work when traditional contact lenses are a no-go due to eye conditions such as keratoconus, corneal irregularities, or extreme dryness. With these specialty lenses, proper insertion is paramount. 

It’s not simply a matter of popping scleral lenses the way you might with standard contact lenses; time, precision, patience, and the three-finger tripod method will make the insertion process much easier. Your optometrist can arrange a special contact-lens fitting session to guide you through the process and make sure you’re comfortable getting the lenses in and out before you take them home. 

What Are Scleral Lenses?

Imagine a contact lens that doesn’t just correct your vision but actively works to keep your eyes moist and comfortable all day. Scleral lenses are equal to or larger in diameter than standard soft contact lenses, which cover the sclera (the white part of the eye). 

This design means less discomfort and instability often reported with smaller contact lenses. Scleral lenses vault over the cornea with a fluid reservoir to keep the eyes hydrated and are especially beneficial for those with dry eyes or any degree of corneal irregularities or steepness. 

Who Can Benefit from Scleral Lenses

Almost anyone with corneal irregularities can benefit from wearing scleral contact lenses. Your eye doctor may recommend scleral contact lenses for eye issues like keratoconus, which affects cornea shape, corneal irregularities, severe refractive errors, or severe dry eye conditions where standard lenses may be inadequate or even intolerable.

Symptoms of keratoconus can include:

  • Visual distortion
  • Light sensitivity
  • Difficulties wearing contact lenses 
  • Sudden worsening of vision 
  • Frequent eyeglass prescription changes

Once your eye doctor performs a contact lens exam and confirms your candidacy to wear contact lenses, they can prescribe customized contact lenses based on your eye health, pupil size, and eye shape. They will also guide you on inserting, removing, and properly caring for your contacts. 

The Importance of Proper Insertion of Scleral Lenses

Proper insertion of scleral lenses isn’t just about putting on your lenses; it’s about making sure your eyes are well-cared for and supporting the lens in performing well. How you insert your lenses can directly impact how well you see and how comfortable your eyes feel. 

Because scleral lenses are larger than traditional contacts, you may take time to learn how to insert them. Here is how to properly insert scleral contact lenses: 

  • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water.
  • Use a preservative-free saline solution to fill the lens well.
  • Check for bubbles, as they can blur your vision.
  • Use the three-finger tripod method to insert the lens into your eyes. 

Three-Finger Tripod Method

Inserting your scleral lenses with this method includes the following steps:

  • Use your thumb, index, and middle fingers to hold the lens.
  • Look downwards at a mirror on the table. 
  • Use your non-dominant hand to hold your upper and lower eyelids open. 
  • Gently maneuver the scleral lens and align it with the center of your eye.
  • Press the lens to the eye and let go when you feel the solution against your eye, as the lens should adhere to your eye.
  • Blink several times to help find the correct lens position on your eye.

If the lens does not center or feels uncomfortable, remove, take a rest, and reinsert it. Incorrect insertion can result in discomfort or injury if the lens is not sitting on the sclera. 

Complications such as abrasions, infections, or reduced corneal oxygen transmission can all arise from improper use. If persistent discomfort exists after several attempts, consult your eye doctor for proper fitting and insertion techniques.

Maintenance & Care After Insertion

Like anything you put in your eyes, cleanliness is crucial to the health of your eyes. Proper maintenance post-insertion can help maintain healthy eyes and vision. Here are some measures for cleaning and storing scleral lenses

  • Wash your hands when handling your scleral lenses. 
  • Remove your lenses before sleeping.
  • Use only the recommended solutions provided by your eye doctor.
  • After removal, clean your lenses by massaging them gently under a flow of solution to remove any deposits.
  • Store your lenses in a lens case to keep them hydrated and ready for use the next day.
  • Clean your contact lens case with the same solution and change it every three months.

Regular Checkups & Adjustments

Regular visits to your eye doctor are vital. Not only will they help maintain the health of your eyes, but they will also make sure your lenses fit well and continue to support your vision. 

A woman in an optometry clinic shaking hands with her male optometrist.

Contact Lenses for All Eyes

Scleral lenses are handled differently from conventional contacts, and a potential game-changer for those who have struggled with vision correction and certain eye irregularities. The benefits of scleral lenses include clarity, comfort, and eye health with proper insertion and care. 

To learn more about scleral lenses and see if they are a good fit for your eyes, book an appointment with Dr. Taylor Bladh, O.D.

Written by Total Vision

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