Dry eye disease is a condition in which a person doesn’t doesn’t have enough tears to lubricate and nourish the ocular surface of the eye. Tears are necessary for maintaining the health of the ocular surface and for providing us with clear vision. Dry eye disease is a common and often chronic problem, particularly in older adults. Many factors can contribute to dry eye disease. These include many of the medications that many of us take on a daily basis including: antihistamines, contraceptives, hypertension medications, anti depressants and sleeping medications. Refractive surgeries such as LASIK are also major contributors to dry eye disease. In addition to the above causes of dry eye disease, compromised meibomian glands should be added to the list of causes. The meibomian glands line the inside lining of the eyelids. These glands produce the oily portion of the tear film that lie over the watery portion of the tear film. If the meibomian glands are compromised, the oily layer of the tear film will not be intact which will allow the tears of evaporate causing possible damage to the ocular surface tissues.
The symptoms of dry eye disease include red eyes, eyes that burn and itch, unstable or fluctuating vision, a scratching sensation whenever you blink, excessive tearing, inability to focus on close work for any length of time and unusual mucous or stringy ocular secretions. Sharp or dull eye pain can also be added to the list of dry eye disease symptoms.
Dry eye disease can affect us in different ways and to different degrees. For patients with low degrees of dry eye disease with minimal symptoms, there are a variety of preservative free lubricating drops and ointments available to reduce or even eliminate many of the dry eye disease symptoms that many patients are experiencing. In addition, the use of Omega-3 fatty acid supplements have helped many patients with dry eye disease experience relief from many of their dry eye disease symptoms. For patients suffering significant discomfort and ocular pain due to dry eye disease, properly designed and fit scleral lenses can eliminate most if not all of the symptoms this patient population is experiencing. This is because a scleral lens will vault over the cornea and rest on the white portion ( the sclera) of the eye. There is a space between the back surface of the lens and the front surface of the cornea that is filled with sterile, preservative free saline solution. In other words, the chronically dry ocular surface is always in a moist environment. Comfort and vision is almost always excellent. Scleral lenses are an especially attractive option for patients suffering chronic ocular pain due to refractive surgeries such as Radial Keratotomy and LASIK surgery.