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Do Scleral Lenses Work for Dry Eye?

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A woman putting in a scleral lenses to help lessen her symptoms of dry eye.

Dry eyes are a common eye health complaint affecting many people all around the world. While many treatments are available for dry eye, scleral lenses have recently grown in popularity as a potential solution.

Scleral lenses can work for dry eye symptoms by creating a stable reservoir of moisture between the lens and the cornea. 

Patients who have experienced persistent dry eye symptoms, even with other treatments, may find scleral lenses to be a game-changer. The improvement in comfort and the potential for enhanced vision make these lenses a promising solution for individuals seeking long-term relief from the challenges of dry eyes.

Am I At Risk of Dry Eyes?

A variety of factors can cause dry eyes. Some may be unavoidable, while others have to do with lifestyle choices or environmental conditions. Almost anything that can affect the health of your tears and tear glands can increase your risk of dry eyes, including:

  • Aging
  • Hormonal changes in women
  • Certain medications, such as antihistamines, decongestants, and blood pressure medication
  • Exposure to environmental irritants such as wind, smoke, or dry air
  • Autoimmune disorders, such as Sjogren’s syndrome or rheumatoid arthritis
  • Eyelid problems, such as when the eyelids don’t close properly
  • Too much screen time

Unfortunately for contact lens wearers, traditional soft contact lenses can worsen dry eye symptoms. Soft contacts require plenty of hydration to work and can occasionally steal that hydration from your eyes, leaving dryness and irritation behind.

Symptoms of Dry Eye Disease

If you’ve ever experienced a burning, gritty sensation in your eyes, particularly when you’re in front of a computer or reading a book, you were likely dealing with dry eyes. Dry eyes occur when your tear production or quality isn’t enough to keep your eyes properly lubricated.

Dry eyes can present in many ways, making it hard to recognize on your own. Common symptoms include:

  • Blurred vision
  • Red eyes
  • A gritty, burning, or scratchy sensation
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Eye strain
  • Difficulty wearing traditional contact lenses
  • Watery eyes without relief
A hand holding a scleral lens.

What Are Scleral Lenses?

Scleral lenses are specialty contact lenses that can help address vision problems ranging from common refractive errors to more complex eye conditions. These large, rigid, gas-permeable contact lenses (RGP) vault over the cornea and rest on the sclera, the white part of the eye.

And when we say large, we mean large. The average RGP lens is around 9 mm. A scleral lens can be as large as 24 mm! Since they shouldn’t touch the cornea, scleral lenses can be used to address various eye health conditions, including:

  • Keratoconus
  • Astigmatism
  • High levels of myopia or presbyopia
  • Corneal scarring
  • Post-surgery recovery

More to the point, scleral lenses can be excellent at treating dry eyes.

Scleral Lenses for Dry Eyes

Thanks to scleral lenses’ unique design, they can create a reservoir of fluid between the lens and the cornea. This helps to protect the cornea from dryness while also providing clear and comfortable vision. Additionally, the lens’s gas-permeable material allows oxygen to pass through to the cornea, promoting a healthier environment for the eyes.

For people with severe dry eyes, scleral lenses may provide significant relief. The lenses help to moisturize the cornea, reducing inflammation and improving visual acuity. The lens can also create a seal at the edge of the eye, potentially preventing dust and debris from sneaking underneath. Moreover, scleral lenses can also benefit those with irregular corneas, improving the fit and function of standard contact lenses that typically cannot correct these corneal irregularities.

However, scleral lenses may not be suitable for everyone with dry eye symptoms. For instance, some people with small eyes may find inserting, removing, or wearing these larger lenses challenging. 

However, a skilled optometrist can evaluate your eye condition and help you determine whether scleral lenses are right for you.

Discover the Benefits of Scleral Lenses

Scleral lenses’ ability to create a cushion of moisture can help relieve dry eye symptoms. However, whether these lenses work for you can depend on your unique situation. The only way to know for sure is to ask.

The Eye Avenue can offer scleral lenses as part of a larger dry eye treatment plan, helping you get back to doing what you love with comfortable vision. Book a consultation today and discover the power of clear vision with scleral lenses.

Written by Dr. John Tran

Dr. John Tran is a board-certified Optometric Physician. He is a member of the American Optometric Association, Florida Optometric Association, and Central Florida Society of Optometric Physicians. Dr. Tran was born and raised in California, where he attended Cal State University, Hayward, and majored in Health Science. His acceptance to Nova Southeastern University brought him 3000 miles from home to Florida, where he proceeded to earn his Doctor of Optometry degree in 2012. Optometry school was where he also met his wife, Dr. Regina Tran, and together, they made central Florida their home after graduation. Dr. Tran is passionate about vision and eye health, which fuels his commitment to delivering a one-of-a-kind eye care experience to his community.
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