Corneal scars can occur due to a variety of different reasons including injuries, infections, or complications from surgery. Above is a picture of a patient who has a corneal scar because of a severe infection from the Herpes Simplex virus. One day she saw perfectly out of this eye and the next day, she developed a sight threatening infection, leaving her with a scar and 20/400 vision. She was legally blind in one eye in a matter of days. This can happen to anyone at any point in life. The patient did nothing wrong; she just got a healthy dose of bad luck.
You may be thinking, “That scar doesn’t look that bad!” I agree but the scar is located near the visual axis which is in the patient’s line of sight. When the pupil enlarges slightly, a significant part of her vision is impaired. This patient would tell you that it looks like she is viewing through a dirty or foggy window all of the time. Remarkably, there is a non-surgical option that can drastically improve this patient’s vision and that is a SCLERAL LENS!
In order to see clearly, the cornea which is the clear tissue over the iris, must be free of any opacities and have a smooth contour. When a patient has a corneal scar, the tissue is no longer clear and has an irregular surface. Scleral lenses, which vault over the cornea and sit on the white part of the eye, effectively create a clear and smooth surface again. The space between the contact lens and the cornea contains fluid, filling in all the irregularities. And, VOILA, the patient can see clearly again! For this particular patient,her vision improved from 20/400 to 20/25. This was life changing to her! She not only regained her vision but her ability to drive comfortably both during the day and night and she was able to enjoy her favorite hobby, quilting, again.
Many patients are living with a situation similar to this patient. They have succumbed to the notion that nothing can be done and they will never see clearly again. I am so excited to share with you that may not be true! Scleral lenses have changed the lives of hundreds of my patients and you or someone you know could be the next person to experience the benefits of this amazing contact lens!
-Ashley Tucker, OD, FAAO, FSLS, Diplomate ABO