According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 30 million Americans wear contact lenses. Dry eye syndrome can make wearing contact lenses uncomfortable, so everyone is looking for solutions. Could daily disposable lenses be one of them?
Dry eyes are a common problem for contact lens wearers. Contact lens wearers tend to have a higher incidence of dry eyes because the contact lens on their cornea partially blocks oxygen. Despite the fact that many contact lenses allow more oxygen to permeate the eye, wearers can still experience dry, gritty eyes at the end of the day. Furthermore contact lenses can exacerbate existing dry eye by causing additional friction on the already inflamed cornea.
If you have dry eye symptoms and have discomfort from your contact lenses or are considering which contact lens modality to use, call your eye doctor to schedule a contact lens exam and dry eye evaluation today.
There are several types of contact lenses that can help people with dry eyes, depending on the cause. Here are some options to consider:
When it comes to dry eyes, environmental buildup is a major culprit; the more dirt you have on your lenses (whether it's pollen, bacteria, or proteins or lipids from your tears), the more irritation you'll feel. People with dry eyes usually do well when they use daily disposable contacts because they get a new pair every day. The protein deposits and other gunk that accumulates on the surface of daily contacts are also thrown out when they are discarded.
Monthly, weekly, and biweekly lenses need to be stored and cleaned regularly with contact solution. While it helps remove deposits from the lens, it doesn't completely remove wear and tear and deposit buildup. The contact lenses worn on a daily basis are usually thinner than the contact lenses worn on a longer-term basis. With a soft, thin build, the contact lenses integrate easier with the cornea and feel less like they are over your eyes. The use of daily contact lenses reduces the chance of getting an eye infection or other eye reaction like giant papillary conjunctivitis because of less buildup on your lenses.
Even though daily lenses are generally recommended for people with dry eyes, not everyone can benefit from them. A pair of longer-term contacts or scleral lenses may be more comfortable for some people, so it's wise to discuss the options with our optometrist beforehand and discuss your symptoms and lifestyle with our eye doctor.
Dry eye can be treated effectively with scleral lenses. A scleral lens vaults totally over the sensitive cornea and is surrounded by a reservoir of fluid held in place by the lens, both of these design elements reduce friction and improve comfort for extended periods of time. A layer of fluid not only normalizes corneal irregularities and improves optical quality, but it also hydrates the surface of the eye.
Scleral lenses are increasingly being used by specialty contact lens fitters and dry eye specialists. The Tear Film and Ocular Surface Society (TFOS) Dry Eye Workshop II included scleral lenses as part of the treatment options for dry eye. When other earlier stage treatments have proved ineffective, DEWS and DEWSII support the use of scleral lenses. Those earlier stage dry eye treatments include artificial tears, lid therapy, topical medications, and punctal plugs. In the Dry Eye Workshop, the authors recommended using scleral lenses before proceeding to anti inflammatory systemic medications, autologous serum tears, or surgical options.
If you have dry eyes, tell your eye doctor about it when you get your contact lenses fitted, or schedule a dry eye evaluation. Beyond being able to help determine which types of contact lenses are likely to be the most comfortable for you, they are also able to recommend specific contact lens brands and treatments, which may provide additional comfort.