Contact Lenses and Protective Eyewear for Chronic Dry Eye

Dry eye disease may be caused by different conditions, medicines, or structural changes within the eye. Because dry eye is not the same from person to person, treatment also varies.1

Along with medicines and other treatments, protective eyewear and lenses may help decrease the symptoms of chronic dry eye.

Moisture chamber glasses

Special moisture-retention glasses, such as moisture chamber glasses, may help treat symptoms of chronic dry eye. These glasses prevent the evaporation of tears by producing humidity and improving hydration to the eyes.2,3

Moisture chamber glasses may be especially beneficial for those with Sjögren's syndrome. This is an autoimmune disorder where the body attacks its glands that make tears and saliva.4

Moisture chamber glasses can look bulky, and their appearance may turn off some people from wearing them. However, there are many varieties with different appearances. Some frames have a rubber gasket or cup that softly sits on the face and surrounds the eyes. Others have chambers on the side of the frame that can be filled with water to improve moisture.2,3

There are now many new types of moisture chamber glasses available. They may be a simple fix for some people with dry eyes. Ask your doctor about these types of glasses and what they recommend for you.2,3

Therapeutic contact lenses

Rigid gas-permeable (RGP) scleral lenses require a proper fit from your eye doctor. These lenses allow for an even distribution of tears under the lens. This helps protect and lubricate the surface of your eye. RGP scleral lenses also decrease irritation with blinking due to damage on the ocular surface (outermost layer of the eye).5,6

RGP scleral lenses have other benefits, including:6

  • Sharper vision for those with an irregular cornea, corneal trauma, or irregularities caused by eye surgery (such as LASIK or cataract surgery)
  • Increased wearing comfort compared to soft contact lenses
  • Increased oxygen reaching the surface of the eye compared to soft contact lenses

Soft contact lenses may still be an option if you have dry eye disease. If you have minor dry eye symptoms that are well managed with medicines or therapies, you may still wear soft lenses. Talk to your doctor about which choice is best for you.6

Choosing the right sunglasses

When picking out your sunglasses in the past, fashion may have been the only deciding factor. However, when choosing your sunglasses after being diagnosed with chronic dry eye, consider how the glasses will keep your eyes healthy.

Damage from the sun adds up over the years. Protecting your eyes from damaging rays now will help to prevent further damage to the surface of the eye. There are some things to consider before buying your next pair of sunglasses.

UVA and UVB protection

Choose a pair of sunglasses with the highest UVA and UVB protection available. There are many price points to choose from. You do not have to buy the most expensive option, as long as your selection has the best protection.7

Choose polarized lenses for driving

Polarized lenses are best at reducing glare. Reducing glare is especially helpful if you have had laser eye surgery, such as LASIK, which can cause both glare and dry eyes.7

Ask your eye care professional or doctor for recommendations on sunglasses if you would like a new pair. Certain lenses may be best for you and help with things like contrast while driving or minimizing color distortion.7

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Written by: Katie Murphy │ Last reviewed: June 2021