Scleral contact lenses and mini-sclerals have surged in popularity over the past decade. This is especially true if you have dry eyes or a corneal disease such as keratoconus. Scleral lenses are useful if you have very sensitive eyes as they do not touch the delicate central part of your eye – the cornea.  They are bigger than regular contact lenses, which can be a little off-putting at first, but they are actually quite easy to insert and remove once you know how.

Inserting scleral contact lenses

  • Always wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water immediately before handling your lenses. Dry your hands with a lint-free towel and avoid getting tap water onto your lenses. The only liquid that should touch your lenses during insertion is preservative-free sterile solution (saline or lubricant).
  • It goes without saying that you must never use saliva on your lenses! Your mouth harbours millions of bacteria and your eye is an almost sterile environment.
  • Scleral lenses are inserted using a larger, hollow plunger, that allows easy release of the lens. It is best that it is as dry as possible before using, to allow an easy release of the lens once it is in your eye. This is easiest to achieve if you snip the tip of the plunger off with a scissors prior to using.
  • Place your lens bowl-side up on the plunger and fill it to the brim with preservative-free sterile saline. You can also use a quality, preservative-free lubricant (we recommend Theratears).
  • Do not tilt the lens or the solution will spill out and you will have an air bubble behind the lens when it contacts your eye. This is not only blurry, but also uncomfortable.
  • Having a mirror flat on the table underneath you is very helpful as a guide, even though you may not be able to see anything clearly.
  • Open your eye as wide as you can and use your thumb and forefinger of your free hand to hold the lids apart.
  • Bring the scleral lens slowly up onto your eye.  Continuing to gently push upwards until you meet resistance. You won’t feel pain (and rarely discomfort) but you will feel the cold, wet saline contact your eye.
  • Remove the plunger and blink a couple of times.
  • Check if you can see clearly. If your vision seems blurred, check for air bubbles beneath the lens. You can do this by shining the light from your phone (etc) from the side.
  • If you see (or suspect) an air bubble, remove the lens (as below) and try again. Trapped air bubbles will not disappear by themselves and can cause discomfort as well as distorted vision.

Removing scleral contact lenses

  • Wash your hands thoroughly using soap and water immediately prior to removing your scleral lenses.
  • Dry with a lint-free towel and avoid tap water getting onto your lenses.
  • Use the smaller, solid plunger to remove your lens.
  • Moisten the plunger with a small drop of preservative-free sterile solution that you shake off. You want it slightly wet.
  • Hold your eyelids apart with thumb and forefinger of your free hand.
  • Look straight ahead in the mirror and place the slightly moistened plunger off centre towards the bottom of the centre of your lens.
  • Tilt it up to break the seal. This is a hinging upward movement (imagine lifting the lid of the toilet seat).
  • Avoid placing the plunger on the centre and pulling the lens straight off without breaking the seal. This places too much suction on the cornea (front of your eye).
  • Clean and disinfect your lens immediately (as below).

Cleaning your scleral lenses

What are scleral contact lenses?

  • Preservative-free sterile solution should be the only product to come in contact with your scleral lenses.
  • We recommend that you disinfect your scleral lenses immediately after removal with a preservative-free peroxide system such as AOSept or OxiSept. These systems provide very thorough disinfection.  Lenses do not usually require and further cleaning other than an overnight soak.
  • After the recommended number of hours, the peroxide breaks down to a sterile saline solution, so your lenses are safe to wear next day.
  • Fill your scleral lens with preservative-free sterile solution such as sterile saline or a lubricant (we recommend Theratears) before inserting into your eye.