WHAT IS SJOGREN'S SYNDROME?
Sjogren's Syndrome is a condition where your immune system attacks the mucous membranes and moisture-secreting glands of the body. This most often affects the tears (by attacking the lacrimal gland), and the saliva (by attacking the salivary gland).
This results in very dry mouth and dry eyes for these patients. People with Sjogren's Syndrome suffer from extremely dry eye that can be difficult to treat and applying artificial tears (lubricating eye drops) all day can be a burden.
Daily eye symptoms of Sjogren's Syndrome may include irritation, burning, itching, light sensitivity, debris on lids and lashes when waking up in the morning, and vision that is blurry or fluctuates.
HOW CAN YOU TREAT SJOGREN'S SYNDROME DRY EYE?
The first key is to have a thorough comprehensive eye exam with an in-depth analysis of the surface of the eye (where dryness occurs). At our exam, we will put different dye markers into the eye and determine what stage of dry eye you have, and develop a treatment plan tailored to you.
Once implementing the dry eye treatment plan, we will discuss options on how to maximize your vision. Patients with Sjogren's Syndrome frequently complain of fluctuating vision that changes with blinks. This is due to the dry surface of the eye. It is hard to obtain a precise glasses or contact lens prescription when vision changes with each blink.
When a patient has severe dry eye complaints, there is an option for a more permanent treatment of the dryness called scleral lenses.
WHAT ARE SCLERAL LENSES ?
Scleral lenses are a unique type of lens made of an oxygen-permeable rigid plastic that is filled with a sterile saline solution before being placed on the eye.
"Contact lens" is not-applicable to this type of lens because there is no contact with the lens and the cornea (clear front of the eye). This type of lens lands on the white portion of the eye, the sclera.
The space between the cornea and the lens is filled with saline, providing moisture to the cornea all day long, and has the ability to mask corneal irregularities, abnormal conditions, and highly diseased eyes.
This lens essentially creates a new, more perfect, front surface of the eye. This allows for much sharper vision for those with keratoconus, corneal transplants, radial keratotomy, corneal scarring, post-LASIK ectasia, and even severe dry eye.
HOW LONG DO SCLERAL LENSES LAST?
Scleral lenses can last for as long as: your corneal shape doesn't change, your prescription doesn't change, and the material remains unscratched. These lenses are very high quality and an excellent investment in clear, comfortable vision.
Unless there is a change, we usually recommend getting a new pair every two years as well as having backup pair, especially if you have an ocular condition and rely on these lenses to see.
HOW DO SCLERAL LENSES HELP DRYNESS?
Scleral lenses can alleviate dry eye because the moisture between the eye and the scleral lens stays on your eye all day. The lenses are filled with saline solution prior to inserting them in the morning.
The lenses do not lose this moisture when they sit on the eye, rather they hold in the moisture. This can help to decrease the amount of artificial tears that need to be used daily and result in much more comfortable and clear vision for the patient!