A cosmetic scleral lens (or haptic lens) is a very thin prosthesis that goes over the front of a damaged eye. It is like a hard contact lens. Often when a person has a penetrating eye injury, the iris becomes discoloured or turns white. When this happens there are a couple of options that people have to recover their natural look.
Many people find that a coloured contact lens, available from optometrists, may solve the problem. If this is not suitable a scleral lens can often be crafted to cover the damaged eye. The greatest advantage of the scleral lens is that with the natural eye behind, it picks up the movement beautifully. The final option would be to have the eye removed then replaced with an artificial eye.
The scleral lens is not suitable for everyone because the damaged eye can be ultra sensitive. For this reason some people just can’t wear them. Before crafting a scleral lens, we make a clear shell that fits the individual eye socket. This way the person can try the shell first to see that their eye socket will accommodate the pressure. We can also make sure we can get the eyelids to sit naturally over it. The lens is usually 1.5mm thick and this works well where the pressure in the damaged eye has reduced and the eye is smaller in size. As the eye reduces in size the lens can be reshaped to maintain the volume within the eye socket. In this way a natural look can be preserved.
The maintenance regime for the scleral lens differs from the full artificial eye. We recommend a haptic lens be taken out each evening where as full artificial eyes can be worn up to a month at a time.
The materials and techniques are the same as making an eye prosthesis. However, it is not suitable for everyone. I recommend people find a reputable ocularist and discuss their options.
Have you been fitted with a haptic lens? Tell us about your experience.