If your eyes are chronically itchy, dry, red or irritated, there’s a good chance you have dry eye syndrome.
Eye drops and artificial tears may provide temporary relief, but they often don’t help individuals with chronic or severe dry eye syndrome. That’s why so many people seek out other treatment options.
One such option is scleral lenses. Although custom-made scleral contact lenses are widely used to correct corneal abnormalities and refractive errors, they can also help patients with intractable dry eye symptoms. Here’s why:
1. Scleral lenses don’t irritate the cornea
Standard contact lenses are typically not an option for people who need vision correction and also have persistent dry eye syndrome. Standard soft lenses sit on the cornea, which can be exceedingly irritating. In contrast, scleral lenses vault over the cornea and sit on the sclera (the white of the eye). The lenses do not come into contact with the corneal surface, reducing discomfort.
2. The scleral lens design ensures constant hydration of the eye
Thanks to sclerals’ unique design, saline solution fills the space between the surface of the cornea and the scleral lens. This provides the eyes with constant hydration. To help lubricate and promote healing of the ocular surface, artificial tears and antibiotics can be administered to the lens' bowl prior to insertion.
3. Scleral lenses protect the cornea
Dry eye syndrome makes the corneas more susceptible to injury. Due to the mechanical friction of the eyelids on the cornea, even something as basic as rubbing the eye or even blinking can exacerbate any current corneal damage. Sclerals can act as a barrier between a patient's eyes and their eyelids, as well as the outside environment.
4. Sclerals allow the eye to regain a healthier appearance
Dry eye patients frequently present with eyes that are red or bloodshot. Scleral lenses perform a therapeutic role by providing a shield from the outside world and ensuring a constant supply of hydration. The redness will begin to dissipate once the eyes receive enough moisture.
5. Patients can continue using artificial tears and eye drops while wearing scleral lenses
Patients can continue to moisten their eyes with preservative-free eye drops or artificial tears while wearing scleral lenses. With that said, many patients discover that after they start wearing scleral lenses, they can reduce the frequency of artificial tear use. Some need eye drops only at night, after they have removed their lenses.
6. Scleral lenses can dramatically improve quality of life
Patients with dry eye syndrome can feel worn down by the almost constant discomfort and eye fatigue, not to mention looking tired all the time due to eye redness.
For patients who have suffered from severe dry eye syndrome for months or years, finding relief while enjoying clear and comfortable vision definitely boosts their quality of life.
If you suffer from dry eye syndrome and have been looking for a more effective treatment option, ask our optometric team about scleral lenses. Call Eyes of New Mexico Family Optometry and Contact Lenses today to schedule your consultation and learn more about these special lenses.
Eyes of New Mexico Family Optometry and Contact Lenses serves patients from Albuquerque, Rio Rancho, South Valley, and Sandia Heights, New Mexico and surrounding communities.
Q: What are scleral lenses?
- A: Scleral contact lenses are gas-permeable lenses that sit on the sclera (the white area of the eye) and form a dome over the cornea. This dome forms a new optical surface over the injured, uneven or dry cornea, allowing for sharper and more comfortable vision.
Q: How long do scleral lenses last?
- A: These rigid gas permeable contacts are made of high-quality, long-lasting materials and typically last 1-3 years. While scleral lenses are more expensive than standard contact lenses, they're a worthwhile investment, particularly for those with hard-to-fit eyes, keratoconus, astigmatism or dry eye syndrome.