Dry eye is one of the most common complaints among our patients who wear contacts. However, a typical misunderstanding is that contact lenses always cause dry eyes. To set the record straight, most of the time contacts are not the cause – but they can make the symptoms of dry eye irritation much worse.
Don’t despair! Dry eye with contacts does not mean you need to return to wearing eyeglasses all of the time. Our Thornhill eye doctor shares the following advice on how to prevent dry eye with contacts, as well as ways to alleviate the painful symptoms.
Intro to Dry Eye
Let’s begin with a basic explanation of the classic causes and symptoms of dry eye. Your eyes have tear-producing glands that keep the ocular surface lubricated, so it doesn’t dry out. Yet sometimes the quantity or quality of tears is not sufficient for maintaining enough moisture on your eyes. How does dry eye feel? The most usual symptoms include redness, itchiness, a feeling of sand in your eyes, watery eyes, and soreness.
Dry eye could result from a number of reasons, such as Meibomian Gland Dysfunction (MGD), side effects from medication, systemic health conditions, and living in an arid or windy climate. If you suffer from a condition that affects tear quality, contact lenses will contribute to your dry eye problem.
1. Get an Eye Exam
If you suffer from painful dry eye, your first step should be to visit your eye doctor. Our Thornhill optometrist will perform a comprehensive eye exam to uncover the root of your dry eye syndrome and to recommend the most appropriate, helpful solution. We will also check your contact lenses and how they move on your eyes to ensure that an improper fit isn’t causing you discomfort.
2. Look into a New Contacts Solution
Not all disinfectants are the same. Some cleaning solutions can make dry eye worse, while others contain moisturizing ingredients to help reduce symptoms of dry eye. Ask your eye doctor to recommend the most suitable product for cleaning and storing your contacts.
3. Use Eye Drops
Also known as artificial tears, over-the-counter eye drops are usually the frontline treatment for dry eye. In many cases, these lubricating products are all that you need to alleviate eye irritation. With so many types of eye drops on the market, how do you choose? First of all, check with your optometrist to verify which types of eye drops are compatible with your contact lenses. Second, look for healthier preservative-free eye drops, especially if you use them more often than once every two hours.
4. Wear the Right Type of Contacts
Contact lenses are not created equal. In general, lightweight soft contacts are more likely to prevent dry eye, because they allow a higher level of water retention than hard lenses. It is a good idea to investigate the water content of your lenses; look for the maximum! Thin and breathable are important criteria for choosing your contacts. Many of the newer, advanced technologies give contacts a moister and comfortable feel, such as specialized silicone hydrogel lenses.
5. Daily Disposable Contacts
The more frequent the replacement schedule for your contacts, the less time for irritating deposits to build up on the lens surface. Debris and deposits can worsen your dry eye symptoms, as well as lead to clogged tear ducts.
Dry eye used to make it impossible to wear contacts. That is no longer the case. Nowadays, we can offer plenty of tips on how to enhance comfort for our Thornhill patients who wear contacts with dry eye syndrome. Schedule a consultation to learn more!