Avera Medical Minute AMcK: Scleral Lenses for itchy dry eyes

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If you have seasonal allergies, you know the symptoms: sneezes and those dry itchy eyes. But what would you do if those symptoms never went away? It's a harsh reality for many but improved technology is helping those with dry eyes finally find some relief.

"You are just so miserable and you're just so ready for an option that you will try anything and that's why I was just so thrilled that the scleral lenses worked!" said Terry Sohl.

For the past few years, Terry has battled with his extremely dry eyes. It's not because of allergies, rather It's the unfortunate side effect of Sjogren's Syndrome.

"Dry eyes, dry mouth, joint pain and fatigue, and I was getting by with all the symptoms until about two years ago last summer when my eyes became so dry that it was starting to affect my vision." said Sohl.

Terry tried everything. Eye drops, therapies, even wearing moisture-creating goggles but still couldn't get relief. Then optometrist Dr. Gregory Hill recommended scleral lenses. The sclera is the white part of your eye and with these special contacts, nearly the entire front of the eye is covered and moisture is locked in.

"The part that goes over the cornea actually falls over it so it doesn't touch the cornea and you fill the lens with fluid so there is actually a tear reservoir under the contact lens that gives the cornea basically a bath all day long." said Dr. Hill, an optometrist with the Avera Medical Group Ophthalmology.

The scleral lens is a hard contact and is specifically designed for each patients eye. When Terry first met with Dr. Hill he had his eyes scanned for their topography. That data is then used by computers to make a perfect fit.

"So you get the health advantages of a fluid reservoir, you get the comfort advantages of having a larger diameter, and you also get the stability of the lens because it doesn't rotate because it matches your sclera so well that it's kind of like putting two Pringle chips together where they fit and lock in." said Dr. Hill.

Today, Terry is back to make sure everything is holding up and both the lens and eye are cooperating with one another.

"What this yellow stuff does is it pools under the lens and it can show us if there's any leakage of the lens we want it to actually seal but if we are getting fluid that goes behind the lens then we know we have to change the curvature." said Dr. Hill as he checks Terry's eye and scleral lens.

A few months ago, Terry's dry eyes made it nearly impossible to do his job; let alone enjoy the simple things in life like being outside with friends and family. Now, his future is clearer than ever thanks to Dr. Hill and these amazing contacts.

"When we started to use the lens I was discouraged at first because it took a while to get one to fit but once we got them to fit it has been a life-changer! I mean it is to the point where when the lenses are in, I feel almost normal and when they are out I have a hard time seeing." said Sohl.

Cinderella had her glass slippers, scleral lenses for Terry are essentially the same thing: a perfect fit and a perfect solution.

Scleral lenses have been around for a long time but computers and 3D printing have made them even more efficient. For more information just call 877-AT-AVERA.