Scleral Lenses for Sjogren’s Syndrome

Scleral Lenses for Sjogren's Syndrome

Sjögren’s syndrome, an autoimmune disorder characterized by dry eyes and dry mouth, can significantly impact an individual’s quality of life. While various treatment options exist, one increasingly recognized solution for managing the ocular symptoms of Sjögren’s syndrome is the use of scleral lenses. Scleral lenses are specialized, large-diameter contact lenses that rest on the sclera and create a reservoir of saline solution over the cornea. By providing continuous moisture, protecting the ocular surface, and improving visual acuity, scleral lenses offer a promising approach to alleviate the discomfort and visual disturbances caused by dry eyes in individuals with Sjögren’s syndrome.


What Impact That Sjogren’s Syndrome Can Have On Your Eyes?

Sjögren’s syndrome can have a significant impact on the eyes, leading to various eye-related symptoms and potential complications. The condition primarily affects the lacrimal glands, which are responsible for producing tears. Here are some of the effects it can have on the eyes:


  • Dryness and irritation: The most common eye symptom in Sjögren’s syndrome is dryness. It can cause a persistent dry or gritty sensation in the eyes, a burning or stinging feeling, and redness. The lack of moisture can lead to discomfort and irritation.
  • Decreased tear production: Sjögren’s syndrome can result in reduced tear production, known as keratoconjunctivitis sicca. This can lead to inadequate lubrication of the eyes, making them more prone to irritation and inflammation.
  • Sensitivity to light: Dry eyes caused by Sjögren’s syndrome may result in increased sensitivity to light, known as photophobia. Bright lights can cause discomfort and make it difficult to keep the eyes open comfortably.
  • Blurred vision: Insufficient tear film can lead to blurred vision. The lack of a smooth tear layer on the surface of the eye can cause light to scatter, resulting in vision disturbances.
  • Corneal damage: In severe cases of Sjögren’s syndrome, the constant dryness and inadequate lubrication of the eyes can lead to damage to the cornea, the clear front surface of the eye. This can result in corneal ulcers, abrasions, or infections, which may require medical intervention.
  • Conjunctivitis: Dryness and inflammation in the eyes can make them more susceptible to conjunctivitis, an inflammation of the conjunctiva, the thin membrane that covers the white part of the eye and lines the inner surface of the eyelids. Conjunctivitis can cause redness, discharge, itching, and a gritty feeling.


An optometrist can provide guidance on managing dry eye symptoms, recommend lubricating eye drops or ointments, and suggest strategies to protect the eyes, such as using humidifiers, avoiding dry environments, and wearing sunglasses outdoors.


How Is Sjogren’s Syndrome Diagnosed?

Due to the gradual and diverse nature of its symptoms, diagnosing Sjögren’s syndrome can be a prolonged process, often spanning several years. Among the medical professionals who frequently become the first to suspect the condition are eye doctors, as dry eyes constitute a prominent hallmark of the disease.


What are the Benefits of Using Scleral Lenses to Help Treat Sjögren’s Syndrome?

Using scleral lenses can provide several benefits for individuals with Sjögren’s syndrome who are experiencing dry eye symptoms. Here are some of the benefits of using scleral lenses as a treatment option:


  • Increased moisture and lubrication: Scleral lenses create a reservoir of saline solution that bathes the eye’s surface throughout the day. This constant source of moisture helps to alleviate dryness and provides long-lasting lubrication, reducing discomfort and irritation.
  • Improved ocular surface protection: The fluid-filled chamber created by scleral lenses acts as a barrier between the eye’s surface and the environment. This barrier helps protect the ocular surface from exposure to air, wind, and other external factors that can exacerbate dryness and irritation.
  • Enhanced visual acuity: Sjögren’s syndrome can lead to blurry vision due to irregularities on the corneal surface caused by dryness. Scleral lenses provide a smooth and consistent optical surface, reducing corneal irregularities and improving visual acuity. This can result in sharper and clearer vision for individuals with Sjögren’s syndrome.
  • Extended wear time: Scleral lenses are designed to be worn for longer periods compared to traditional contact lenses. Due to their large size and the fluid reservoir, they can provide comfortable wear throughout the day, allowing individuals with Sjögren’s syndrome to experience prolonged relief from dry eye symptoms.
  • Customized fit and comfort: Scleral lenses are custom-fitted to each individual’s eye, ensuring a precise and comfortable fit. They are designed to vault over the cornea without touching it, reducing the risk of irritation or discomfort. The customization process takes into account the unique characteristics of the eye, resulting in a personalized and optimal fit for maximum comfort.
  • Protection against corneal damage: Severe dryness in Sjögren’s syndrome can lead to corneal damage, such as ulcers or abrasions. Scleral lenses provide a protective barrier and help maintain a stable tear film, reducing the risk of corneal complications and promoting healing of existing corneal damage.


It’s important to note that the benefits of scleral lenses can vary depending on individual factors, such as the severity of dry eye symptoms, overall eye health, and specific needs.

If you’re suffering from Sjogren’s Syndrome and experiencing the ocular consequences that this condition causes, we encourage you to get in touch with our team. We will provide you with the personalized treatment plan that you need so that you can have the clear vision that you deserve.


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