For many people, contact lenses are a convenient alternative to glasses. However, wearing contact lenses can sometimes lead to dry eye, a frustrating and uncomfortable experience. In this article, we will explore what causes dry eye when wearing contact lenses and discuss available treatment options to alleviate discomfort.
Several factors can contribute to contact lens-induced dry eye, such as prolonged wear, exposure to windy outdoor conditions, and seasonal changes. If patients experience dry eye after using bi-weekly or monthly lenses, it may be necessary to change the solution or consider daily lenses. It is crucial to identify the cause of the dry eye so that the appropriate solution can be recommended.
One potential solution for contact lens-induced dry eye is using artificial tears or lubricating eye drops to help soothe and moisturize the eyes when they feel dry. Dr. Babakhan recommends using preservative-free drops, such as Refresh Optive Preservative Free or Systane, that come in single vials. Another possible solution is to switch to a hydrogen peroxide-based solution, such as Clear Care. This solution can clean the lenses more effectively, requiring less rubbing than standard saline solutions.
Switching to daily disposable contact lenses can also help alleviate dryness while wearing contact lenses. Dr. Babakhan recommends two specific types of daily lenses for patients with dry eyes: Dailies TOTAL1 and MyDay. These lenses are designed to be highly moist and feature water gradients that can help to reduce dryness.
Occasionally, patients with contact lens-induced dry eye may also have meibomian gland dysfunction. This condition occurs when the oil glands become blocked, leading to rapid evaporation of the tears. In these cases, warm compresses can help to open up the glands, restoring the production of healthy oil layers.
One of the secret weapons in contact lenses for dry eye sufferers are specialty lenses called scleral lenses. Scleral lenses are a highly effective and innovative solution for individuals suffering from dry eye syndrome. These large-diameter, gas-permeable contact lenses are designed to vault over the cornea and rest on the sclera, the white part of the eye. This creates a reservoir of fluid between the lens and the cornea, which helps to keep the ocular surface moist and alleviate dry eye symptoms. The Tear Film and Ocular Surface Society's Dry Eye Workshop II (TFOS DEWS II) recommends scleral lenses as an advanced treatment option for patients with moderate to severe dry eye who have not found relief through traditional therapies. Scleral lenses can provide enhanced comfort, improved visual acuity, and reduced ocular surface inflammation for those with dry eye syndrome, making them an invaluable resource for managing this chronic condition.
Take our dry eye assessment to see if your symptoms indicate that you are suffering from treatable dry eye disease.
If you are experiencing dry eyes as a result of wearing contact lenses, it is crucial to see our eye doctor promptly for a comprehensive evaluation and appropriate treatment options.
In general, if you experience any persistent discomfort or irritation in your eyes while wearing contact lenses, it is best to see our eye doctor right away. This is especially important if you notice any of the following symptoms:
We may recommend that you switch to a different type of contact lens or change the way you wear them. They may also suggest using eye drops or other medications to alleviate your symptoms.
In addition, we may advise you on proper contact lens hygiene and care to help prevent further dryness or irritation. This may include recommendations for cleaning and storing your lenses, as well as tips for avoiding common contact lens problems.