WHAT IS DRY EYE?
Dry eye affects many individuals. Symptoms include irritation, burning, light sensitivity, excessive tearing, and blurry or fluctuating vision.
Women, particularly those over 50 years of age, typically experience dry eye more often then men. Certain systemic conditions including some medications can also worsen dry eye. Constant near work, computer use and air quality may also impact dry eye.
Mild cases can be treated with a regimen of daily lid hygiene and the use of artificial tears. More moderate to severe cases need a customized treatment plan. Frequent follow ups are important to ensure improvement of the condition and overall eye health.
At our office, each dry eye patient leaves with a written treatment plan and a login to their portal where all recommended artificial tears, oral supplements, and contact lens solutions are listed. Follows up schedule and treatment plans will vary depending on the dry eye patient's unique diagnoses.
WHAT KINDS OF CONTACT LENSES CAN I WEAR WITH DRY EYE?
Those with dry eye can wear contact lenses as long as treatment is started on the underlying cause of dryness. With all patients, we first take a comprehensive look at the eye and start a treatment of the dry eye. After seeing how each patient responds to treatment, recommendations for contact lenses can be made.
1.) Soft Contact Lenses
Each soft contact lens is made of a plastic material with different properties including thickness, oxygen permeability, how much the plastic attracts or repels water, how bendable or stiff the lens is, and how often you replace the lens.
It is important to work with a doctor who is knowledgeable in these factors when prescribing contact lenses for those with underlying dry eye. The type of material which may work for one person, may not work for another. Everybody is unique.
With very severe forms of dry eye, soft contact lenses may not be an option, but there are still options for you!
2.) Scleral Lenses
After traditional treatments have failed, scleral lenses can be an amazing management option for severe dry eye. Scleral lenses are a large-diameter rigid lens that is made of an oxygen-permeable plastic.
In between the lens and your eye is a reservoir of preservative-free sterile saline that stays in place all day. This provides constant lubrication to the eye.
In cases like Stevens-Johnson syndrome, Sjogren's Syndrome, or Exposure Keratopathy due to Bell's Palsy, where more than just the cornea is compromised, the lens can be made to be much larger to protect the conjunctiva (white portion of the eye) as well.
These lenses, in combination with excellent dry eye management can provide wonderful relief to patients who have been suffering from severe dry eye.
3.) Rigid Gas Permeable (RGP) & Hybrid Contact Lenses
Rigid gas permeable contact lenses (RGP) are made of a durable rigid, oxygen permeable plastic. They can come in many sizes but all are smaller than the iris (the colored portion of your eye), and they sit gently on a layer of tears that is in front of the cornea (the clear anterior surface of the eye).
Hybrid contact lenses are comprised of a rigid gas permeable lens in the center and a soft contact lens "skirt" surrounding the lens. This can aide in helping the lens center and making them more comfortable.
These lenses can be an option for those with dry eye because of the tears that are allowed to flow under the lenses.