Many contact lens wearers complain about experiencing dry eyes. Dry eye syndrome is common among individuals who wear contacts and those who do not. Symptoms of the condition include red, itchy, and irritated eyes, which usually worsen due to contact lens use.
Consulting an eye doctor will determine the cause of the dryness and provide ways to enhance comfort when wearing contacts. Here is more information on whether contact lenses make dry eye worse.
Many people choose contact lenses over eyeglasses due to the convenience they provide. They help correct vision without changing the individual’s appearance. In most cases, wearers can barely feel the contacts when worn.
If you have chronic dry eyes, wearing contacts can be difficult. Dry eye syndrome is a condition that occurs when the eyes fail to produce adequate tears or produce poor-quality tears. Lack of necessary lubrication leaves the eyes dry and uncomfortable.
Dry eye affects millions of people and is most common among elderly individuals. Causes of the condition include:
Damage to tear glands
Disease or damage to the skin around the eyes
Autoimmune disorders and diseases such as Sjogren’s syndrome
Hormonal changes such as menopause
Certain medications such as antidepressants, birth control pills, and blood pressure drugs
Allergies and effects of aging eyes
Prolonged contact lens use
The cornea is the only body part that gets oxygen directly from the air. People who wear contact lenses have a high risk of developing dry eyes. It is because the lens partially blocks oxygen from permeating the eye. It leaves the wearers experiencing dryness and grittiness after hours of wearing lenses.
New contact lens designs and materials allow more oxygen to reach the eye. Contact lens-induced dryness can also be due to excessive tear absorption that irritates the eye surface.
Studies show that almost 50 percent of people who wear contact lenses develop dry eyes. Wearing the lenses can lead to a burning sensation, pain, and a gritty feeling. Some people experience blurry vision and discomfort when wearing contacts.
You do not have to give up contact lens wear if you have dry eye. Treating the cause or switching to a different type of lens can help. Your eye doctor will determine the cause before recommending the best treatment.
There are ways to relieve dry eye caused by contact lens use. They include:
Use lubricating eye drops to reduce discomfort
Choosing contact lenses made from silicone hydrogel
Improving eye comfort by providing nutrients through the intake of vitamins
Wearing low-water content contacts
Using daily disposable contacts
Consider the lens size, getting scleral lenses can help prevent dryness
Taking proper care of contact lenses
Using the right lens solution to clean the contacts
If contact lenses are causing you to experience dry eye, talk to your eye doctor about your options. The doctor may recommend switching to a new lens type, using preservative-free eye drops, or changing your lens solution. If you continue to experience problems, you may need to stop wearing the lenses for a while.
For more on contact lenses and dry eye, call City Eyes Optometry Center at (818) 960-1300 to reach our Sherman Oaks, California office.