Wearing traditional contact lenses can be a convenient method of correcting vision — unless you are suffering from dry eye. Dry eye symptoms, such as red, itchy eyes, or a feeling of having something in your eye, tend to worsen when wearing traditional contact lenses.
There is, however, one type of lens that isn’t only comfortable to wear, but also improves vision and reduces symptoms — it’s called a scleral lens. This lens differs from a conventional contact lens in several ways, most notably in size. Scleral lenses are large custom-fit contact lenses that offer multiple benefits for people with dry eyes and a variety of other eye conditions.
If you are experiencing dry eye symptoms, speak with Melania Napolitano, O.D. to see whether wearing scleral lenses is the best course of action for your condition.
Dry Eye Symptoms
First things first, what does dry eye mean? If you've been experiencing any of these symptoms for some time, you may be suffering from dry eye syndrome:
- Red eyes
- Itchy eyes
- Sensitivity to light
- Mucus in or around your eyes
- A feeling of dust or sand in your eyes
- Difficulty wearing contact lenses
- Watery eyes
- Blurred vision or eye fatigue
Why Do the Symptoms Occur?
Your eyes are usually covered with a thin film of tears to keep them lubricated and protected. If the lubrication is inadequate, that is, if the quality or quantity of the tears is out of balance, one of the above symptoms may occur.
Dry eye can have many causes, such as certain medical conditions, medications, environmental influences, hormones, and extensive exposure to blue light from digital devices. Long-time contact lens usage may also impact tear quality. Dry eye mostly affects women, particularly upon reaching menopause.
What Are Scleral Lenses?
This gas permeable contact lens is considerably larger than any other contact lens, and due to its size, a scleral lens rests on the sclera—the white part of the eye— without touching the cornea.
As mentioned earlier, when you have dry eye, the cornea is more sensitive than usual, rendering it uncomfortable when a traditional contact lens comes into contact with it. Scleral lenses, on the other hand, cause no friction to the cornea as they do not directly touch it, but rather vault right over it.
Scleral lenses were initially developed for patients who could not wear traditional contact lenses, such as those with high astigmatism, keratoconus, and other corneal irregularities. Over the years, study after study has shown that scleral lenses can improve and even treat dry eye syndrome.
How Does a Scleral Lens Treat Dry Eye?
Standard soft contact lenses absorb moisture from the eye, whereas scleral lenses provide moisture. Furthermore, when inserting a scleral lens into your eye, you first apply a saline solution, which fills the gap between the cornea and the lens. This provides moisture for the irritated eye and promotes healing.
By ensuring consistent hydration of the eye and shielding the cornea from external irritants, scleral lenses provide the eye with the conditions needed to heal. As you can see, scleral lenses can play a therapeutic role in the healing process of dry eye syndrome.
What You Need to Know About Wearing Scleral Lenses With Dry Eye
Most people find that scleral lenses are very comfortable to wear. They do not move around on the eye, and dust particles are less likely to get caught underneath. Caring for, inserting and removing a larger lens, however, involves some practice and calls for a little more caution.
One of the few side effects of dry eye is a higher production of mucus, which can accumulate underneath the lens. As a result, you may have to clean your lenses more frequently to ensure clear vision.
Eye Drops and Scleral Lenses
Artificial tears are a common treatment for dry eye, and you can use them in combination with scleral lenses. However, make sure to consult Melania Napolitano, O.D. regarding which drops to use for your specific case.
To further reduce symptoms and improve the quality of your tears, consider using lid scrubs regularly. Also, warm compresses can provide relief and contribute to improving the tear film.
Where Can You Get Scleral Lenses?
Scleral lenses are custom-made for each patient. At 20/20 Eye Care, we have made scleral lens fitting one of our primary objectives, which is why our practice is equipped with the latest technology and contact lens modalities. This has enabled us to achieve positive results for our dry eye patients.
Contact Melania Napolitano, O.D. at 20/20 Eye Care for a personal consultation and find out whether scleral lenses are a suitable option for your dry eye syndrome.
We serve dry eye patients from Middle Village, Mineola, Queens, Elmhurst, and throughout New York.