Scleral Lens User Guide: Wearing your lenses
- What's my appropriate wear time?
- Prescription eye drops
- Re-wetting drops
- Mucous on the lens
- Lens fogging
- Removing, rinsing and re-filling
- Knowing red flags
Your wear time may be determined by your doctor's instructions or, if they have not specified any limits to your wear time, simply comfort and vision. There is no 'normal' for wear time, as you'll see from our survey results. If you have concerns, definitely check in with your doctor.
Discomfort and/or vision issues can crop up during the day if you got a bubble under a lens during lens application. It is absolutely worth putting in the effort to check carefully for bubbles immediately after application. You can't always "feel" a bubble, and they aren't always obvious on a casual glance in the mirror. There is nothing quite like discovering that you might have a bubble at an inconvenient time - like driving in traffic, or the middle of a meeting.
Prescription eye drops
The same rule of thumb applies to scleral lens users as all other contact lens users: If you need to apply an eye medication, remove your lenses, apply the drops, and wait 10-15 minutes before re-applying the lenses (or as advised by your doctor).
Many people need to apply some kind of drop over their lens if their eyes feel dry or the top surface of the lens is getting a little uncomfortable during the day.
So, what drops do you use on top of your lenses? Here are some options. Check with your doctor and get their advice.
Contact lens wetting drops, i.e. drops that are specifically labeled for this purpose. However, there are two issues with these drops: (1) many of them aren't that good - in particular, they may be too thick to be practical on scleral lenses, and (2) they ALL contain preservatives, and many of us prefer to avoid all preservatives where possible.
Preservative-free lubricant drops: These drops are never labeled for use with contacts (see below for the reason why). But the practical reality is that they are commonly used this way, and commonly recommended by optometrists for this use. Check with your doctor for a specific recommendation. Usually the limiting factors are how thick the drop is, and whether it contains any kind of oil, either of which can interfere with vision or lens comfort. You can also review eye drop ingredients on our ingredient reference list (oils are highlighted in blue).
Preservative-free saline: Many people ask if they can just use their saline to get the lenses wet. It's not labeled for the purpose, but it's obviously being used in the eye all day long so clearly it's not going to be harmful. The practical limitation of saline is that it has no lubricating qualities, so other than briefly wetting the drops, it can't give you very much mileage.
Why do my artificial tears say that I can't use them with contacts? There's a little-known fact about eyedrops that has to do with the way the FDA regulates these products. No eye drop can be labeled both as an artificial tear and as a contact lens wetting drop, because the two types of drops are governed by different parts of the FDA with different rules. As a result, some companies may actually be packaging the same exact drop two different ways to accommodate the FDA's rules - one for contacts, one for dry eye. However,
Mucous on the lens
Removing, rinsing and re-filling
Removing, rinsing (possibly also cleaning) and re-filling lenses is a common practice for scleral lens users for a variety of reasons.
A few pointers to keep in mind:
- If mucous build-up is your reason for rinsing and re-filling, bear in mind that many doctors consider that the removal and re-application process may actually stimulate more mucous production.
- Follow all the same practices for lens handling as you do when you first put them in, from non-moisturizing hand soap to drying your hands to ensuring you have a safe space to handle the lenses and a way to check for bubbles.
- You may be able to avoid rinsing and re-filling if you have build-up on top of, but not under, the lens by rinsing it with saline while still in the eye or "squeegeeing" it with a wet cotton bud.
- If you are refilling your lenses frequently because the saline seems to be draining out, contact your lens provider, as that is not normal.
Here are some suggestions of situations that are worth noting and calling your doctor's office about:
- Redness or discharge?
- Excessive amounts of mucous only when wearing lenses?
- Lens is painful?
- Sensation of lens being too tight and "squeezing" your eye?
FOR INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY. THIS GUIDE IS COMPRISED OF PEER-TO-PEER SUGGESTIONS, NOT MEDICAL ADVICE. CONSULT YOUR EYE DOCTOR WITH ALL YOUR EYE CARE AND LENS QUESTIONS.