Discover why Scleral Lenses can provide relief from symptoms of dry eye, such as burning, stinging, gritty, and painful eyes.
If you suffer from dry eye, and have looked into treatment options to help alleviate symptoms, you may have seen scleral contact lenses mentioned. Of course, the obvious question then arises. Do they actually help?
Many people suffer from dry eye, which is when the tears don’t properly lubricate the eyes, commonly due to instability within the tear film. The tear film is comprised of three layers: oil, aqueous fluid, and mucin, and the right balance within it, along with the right amount of tear film overall, is important for things to operate properly. Commonly, the problem causing dry eye is related to the amount or the quality of tears produced.
Dry eye can be caused by a wide range of things, and while dry eye might seem like just a mild irritation, the irritation and inflammation to the eyes can cause serious damage if not treated.
While scleral contact lenses aren’t a cure for dry eye, they can provide relief through better moisturizing the eyes.
They are large-diameter lenses which are gas permeable and leave space over the cornea, resting instead on the sclera (the white of the eye.) They provide a smooth optical surface which can also correct vision problems from corneal issues like keratoconus.
Additionally, they are filled with isotonic fluid prior to installation, which gives them increased ability to moisturize the eye, making them much more comfortable for people with dry eye to wear for extended periods of time, and make wearers less reliant on eye drops to keep the eyes moist.
Optometrists usually recommend scleral lenses after they've attempted more traditional dry eye treatments . These lenses won't cure your dry eye , but they can provide relief by consistently moisturizing your eyes. Scleral contact lenses are an effective method for treating dry eye The lenses cover your entire corneal surface, protecting your eyes from irritants such as smoke, wind, dust, and other debris. The lens design is more comfortable to wear for long periods, decreasing the need for artificial tears There are several studies dedicated to evaluating the effectiveness of scleral lenses. In one study, patients said scleral lenses increase comfort, decrease the need for eye drops, and improve visual acuity . Another study found that scleral contact lenses can relieve symptoms when dry eye is severe or difficult to manage.
Scleral contact lenses aren't a one-size-fits-all solution for your dry eye symptoms, but they can effectively provide relief and moisture. Scleral contact lenses aren't for everyone, so speak with your optometrist to determine if these lenses can help you. Your optometrist will tailor-fit the scleral lens on your eye for better comfort and vision.
A common cause of dry eye is poor tear quality leading to them evaporating too quickly. The oil portion of the tear film is what normally prevents this, so a problem with this oil, called meibum, can lead to dry eye.
Eye allergies, dry air, infrequent blinking, posterior blepharitis, MGD, and vitamin A deficiency can all cause this, along with issues with the eyelid. The latter can be caused by inflammation due to irritation from contact lenses.
Tear production generally lessens with age, but it can also be negatively impacted by things like antihistamines, antidepressants, decongestants, and side effects from other medications.
Scleral contact lenses may be an option to help reduce the discomfort from poor tear quality and tear production.
Dry eye does not mean you have to give up wearing contact lenses. However, if your current lenses are causing irritation, or if your current treatment is not giving you relief, you should come in for a checkup right away, as dry eye can be a more serious issue than many realize, so don’t wait! Additionally, upon coming in for a dry eye examination, we may be able to provide other treatment options specifically tailored for your condition which can provide long-term relief.