Scleral Lenses for Dry Eyes 

Published January 4, 2021

Scleral contact lenses are an effective solution for patients with dry eyes. 

Are your eyes constantly dry and irritated? Scleral contact lenses are known for providing clear vision and dry eye relief to patients who have been told that regular contact lenses will only further irritate their eyes and make their dry eye symptoms worse.

Scleral lenses are large, custom-fit contact lenses that provide multiple benefits for people with dry eyes.

While standard contact lenses sit directly on the cornea and can irritate already sore dry eyes, scleral lenses do not come in contact with the cornea at all, and are designed to keep the eyes hydrated throughout the day— not only providing comfort, but also improving dry eye symptoms.

What is dry eye syndrome (DES)?

More than 16 million people suffer from dry eyes. 

Dry eye syndrome is a common condition that results from insufficient tear quantity, or inadequate tear quality.

Your tears are responsible for lubricating and protecting the surface of your eyes. When your tears cannot adequately hydrate your eyes, dry eye symptoms can result.

Dry eye syndrome can be caused by a variety of eye or medical conditions, irritants in your environment, fluctuating hormones, certain medications, and even long term contact lens use.

What are the symptoms of DES? 

Dry eyes can range from a mild inconvenience to a chronic problem, and cause many uncomfortable symptoms. If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, you may be suffering from dry eye syndrome:

  • Red eyes
  • Itchy eyes
  • Watery eyes
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Mucus in or around your eyes
  • Gritty sensation, or feeling of sand in your eyes
  • Difficulty wearing contact lenses
  • Blurred vision or eye fatigue

How do scleral lenses improve dry eye symptoms?

Scleral lenses are rigid gas permeable (RGP) contact lenses that are notably larger than conventional contact lenses. Scleral lenses are designed to vault over the cornea and rest on the sclera, the white part of the eye.

Since scleral lenses do not come in contact with the cornea, these contact lenses are more comfortable for dry eye patients.

Moreover, while regular soft contact lenses absorb moisture from the eye, scleral lenses actually provide moisture to the eye.

Prior to insertion, fresh saline solution is applied to the “bowl” of the scleral lens. This solution remains in the space between the scleral lens and cornea to provide constant hydration and dry eye relief throughout the day.

Scleral lenses not only protect the cornea, they also provide the much needed hydration to the surface of the eye to promote healing and alleviate uncomfortable dry eye symptoms.

If your dry eyes are severe, your eye doctor may recommend adding a gel eye drop or artificial tears solution to the “bowl” of the lens for further dry eye relief.

Prescription eye drops may also be used with scleral lens wear to further lubricate your eyes, though many patients are able to reduce the frequency of these drops as the scleral lenses typically provide sufficient dry eye relief.

Scleral lenses provide constant hydration, allowing patients with normally red, irritated dry eyes to obtain healthier looking eyes.

If you are suffering from dry eyes and have been told to avoid contact lenses, schedule an eye exam to find out if scleral contact lenses are right for you.