How-To-Treat-Dry-Eyes-With-Contacts-Hero Hero

How to Treat Dry Eyes with Contacts

Book Appointment

Dealing with dry eyes is rarely a pleasant experience. It’s a common eye condition easily recognizable by the burning, gritty, and irritating sensations it causes. Often due to a problem with your body’s tear production, dry eye can be problematic—though it’s treatable with the help of an experienced optometrist.

While your optometrist may initially recommend eye drops and warm compresses to find relief from your dry eyes, there’s another possibility: scleral contact lenses. These are specialty contact lenses that trap a certain amount of your tears, keeping your eye hydrated and protected while also correcting your vision. They may be able to help you find long term relief from your dry eyes.

What Is Dry Eye?

Our eyes are continually protected by a thin film of tears that spreads across their surface every time you blink. These tears are responsible for keeping the eye hydrated and moisturized while still allowing light to pass through. They also help to flush away dust, debris, bacteria, and other contaminants from the sensitive part of the eye.

However, this tear film is a careful balance of mucin, oils, and water. When this balance is disrupted, your tears struggle to properly protect your eyes. There may not be enough fluid being produced, or the tears might be evaporating too quickly. Either way, the result ends up the same—the eye is unprotected and vulnerable to contaminants.

This leads to burning and dry sensations like your eye is completely exposed. This is dry eye, often called dry eye syndrome or dry eye disease.

What Are the Symptoms of Dry Eye?

When your tears leave the eye unprotected, the first symptom is often grittiness and irritation. It could feel like there’s a piece of sand trapped under the eyelid, or like there’s constant dry air blowing at your eyes. You’ll need to blink more often or squint to try and limit your eye’s exposure to the outside air.

If left unaddressed, dry eye can cause:

  • Overall irritation
  • Burning and stinging sensations
  • Light sensitivity
  • Visible redness
  • Mild discharge

These symptoms may seem minor at first but can grow to cause extreme discomfort over time. Bright environments can cause further irritation, and wearing contact lenses is extremely uncomfortable.  But it isn’t just about feelings of discomfort.

When your eyes are constantly exposed and unable to flush away contaminants, they’re much more vulnerable to damage. Dust, debris, and bacteria aren’t flushed away as quickly, which can lead to long-term damage to your eyes. That’s why treatment is so essential; it can help prevent vision loss in the future.

How to Treat Dry Eyes

If you’ve noticed any of the symptoms of dry eye, your first step should be to visit your optometrist. They’ll be able to perform a comprehensive eye exam to determine what may be causing your dry eyes. Whether it’s due to your environment, an underlying medical condition, or even hormonal changes, they can assess the root cause to determine an appropriate type of dry eye therapy.

Usually, your optometrist can recommend at-home treatment so you can find relief during a dry eye flare-up. These treatments can include:

  • Eye drops or artificial tears to supplement your natural tear production
  • Nutritional supplements to promote healthy tear production
  • Warm compresses designed to stimulate the area around your eyes to promote healing and bring you relief

However, there may be another answer often overlooked: scleral contact lenses.

Contact Lenses for Dry Eye

Regular contact lenses sit directly on the surface of your eye. They’re designed to correct your vision without causing any irritation or inconvenience. But if you have dry eyes, they can often make symptoms worse; when the eyes are sensitive, having a physical object touching them even slightly can be irritating.

This is where scleral lenses become ideal. Unlike regular contacts, which touch the surface of the cornea, scleral lenses rest on the whites of your eyes. They arch over the sensitive cornea without making contact before resting on the opposite side of your eyes. This creates a tiny space between the lens and the cornea—a space where your tears can rest and protect the eye, keeping it hydrated and moisturized without risk of evaporation.

Their unique design allows them to give you clear vision while avoiding further inflammation of the area. This lets you see clearly and comfortably—without making dry eyes worse.

Scleral lenses aren’t the only option, however. Alternatives include:

  • Silicone hydrogel lenses, which allow more oxygen to reach the eye while keeping the eye protected.
  • Daily disposable lenses, designed to avoid the effects of overwearing more rigid options.
  • Low-water content lenses, which allow more oxygen to reach the eye and draw liquid forth to the tear film.

However, these may not work for all cases. This is why a visit to the optometrist is so essential; they can examine your eyes to determine what kind of lenses are ideal for you, or if another approach may be more suitable for to treat your underlying condition.

A man in an optometry clinic shaking hands with his female optometrist

What to Do if You Have Dry Eyes

If you’re living with dry eyes, don’t suffer in silence. Come see our team at Perspectives Vision Clinic to discuss dry eye therapy instead. Our team can help you with your dry eyes and bring you relief, so book an appointment with us today!


  • Categories
  • Written by Dr. Marcie Nichols

    More Articles by Dr. Marcie Nichols

    Visit Our Office

    Our Address

    • 3102 50th Street West
    • Minneapolis, MN 55410

    Contact Information

    Hours of Operation

    9 AM - 6 PM
    8 AM - 7 PM
    9 AM - 6 PM
    8 AM - 7 PM
    9 AM - 6 PM
    chevron-right chevron-left chevron-down chevron-up instagram facebook facebook2 pinterest twitter google-plus google linkedin2 yelp youtube phone location calendar share link star-full star-half chevron-right chevron-left chevron-down chevron-up envelope fax