How To Fix Dry Eyes from Contacts

Comfort is very important when wearing contact lenses. Do you feel like your eyes are dry when you are wearing contacts? 

There is a difference between having dry eye symptoms when wearing contacts vs having dry eye syndrome. 

Dry eye symptoms are associated with contact lens discomfort (CLD). It is believed to be one of the main reasons some people give up wearing contact lenses.

Fixing Dry Eyes from Contacts

Dry eyes can arise from different causes. As a result, treatment methods can vary. If you’re suffering from dry eyes, your doctor may recommend contacts for you.

Constant wearing of contacts can dry out your eyes. This results in contact lens induced dry eyes (CLIDE). The drying out occurs because the contact lens material limits the flow of oxygen to the eye. Without a steady flow of oxygen your eyes struggle to develop tears.

The prevalence of dry eyes syndrome increases with age. An estimated 3.2 million women aged 50 and over are affected. About 1.68 million men aged 50 and over are also affected.

Having dry eyes means the tear film meant to moisturize your eyes isn’t working as well as it should. But don’t give up hope yet, this doesn’t rule out your ability to wear contacts.

The first thing you should consider when choosing contacts is the lens material. You should choose a lens material that will best satisfy your needs.

Different types of contact lens

About 45 million people in America wear contact lenses. It helps people see better without affecting their appearance or interfering with their activities.

Fixing dry eyes with contacts starts with a visit to your eye doctor. The eye doctor evaluates the cause of your dryness symptoms and prescribes the best treatment for you.

Contacts with higher water content can actually worsen dry eyes. You can find contacts that range from 20%-70% water. One would think that the more water the better, however, this is not the case. Contacts that have a higher “wetness” actually draw water away from it’s surroundings in order to maintain the high water content. In this case, water is being pulled from your already dry eyes resulting in them feeling worse. Dry eye sufferers should consult with their doctor to discuss the best type of contact lens and request samples to try.

There are different types of contact lenses. They are based on the type of lens material they are made of. Your eye doctor can recommend any of the following contacts to you:

Soft lenses 

They are made from gel-like, water-containing plastics called hydrogels. They are very thin and flexible. They are comfortable and easy to wear. 

They may be recommended for people with chronic dry eyes. They have the ability to hold water. They stay in place and are easy to adjust unlike hard contacts.

They also allow oxygen to pass through to let the eyes breathe. This increases comfort. It also helps to maintain eye health.

Silicone hydrogel lenses

They are an advanced type of soft contact lenses. They are more porous than regular hydrogel lenses. They allow more oxygen to reach the cornea. They are now the most popular lenses prescribed in the United States.

They are sometimes called “bandage” lenses. Silicone hydrogel contacts require less moisture than other contacts. 

They don’t allow water to evaporate as easily as other lenses. They reduce dry eye better than regular hydrogel contacts.

They provide comfort for dry eyes sufferers.

Hybrid contact lenses 

They are designed to provide wearing comfort that rivals soft or silicone hydrogel lenses. They also have the crystal-clear optics of gas permeable lenses. 

A small percentage of people in the U.S. wear hybrid contact lenses. These lenses are more difficult to fit and are more expensive to replace than soft and silicone hydrogel lenses.

PMMA lenses 

They are called hard contact lenses. They are made from a transparent rigid plastic material called polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA). They have excellent optics, but they do not transmit oxygen to the eye. They are also difficult to adapt to.

They are now old-fashioned, and have been replaced by GP lenses. They are rarely prescribed by eye doctors.

Gas permeable lenses 

They are rigid contact lenses. They are porous and allow oxygen to pass through them. They are also known as GP or RGP lenses. They allow oxygen to enter the eye. 

It takes some time for your eyes to adjust to GP lenses when you start wearing them. They provide sharper vision than soft and silicone hydrogel contacts — especially if you have astigmatism. 

Scleral lenses

If you are struggling with dry eyes, scleral lenses can give you exceptional comfort and visual clarity.

Scleral lenses are special contacts. They are large-diameter lenses that spread over the sclera without touching the cornea. The white part of the eye is known as the sclera. They protect and soothe the cornea.

Standard contact lenses absorb moisture from the eye, whereas scleral lenses provide moisture to the eye.

They are gas permeable. That means they let oxygen reach the eye. They are used to treat corneal irregularities. They can also be used to fix dry eyes with contacts.

They provide the eye with conditions to heal by ensuring consistent hydration of the eyes, and shielding the cornea from external irritants.

Orthokeratology (Ortho- K) lenses

Ortho-K lenses can also help dry eye sufferers. You only need to wear them while sleeping. The closed eye during sleep reduces evaporation of tears and can give dry eyes patients improved vision.

Many dry eyes sufferers are more comfortable during their waking hours with Ortho- K than with soft or GP contacts.

Reasons why your eyes feel dry when wearing contacts:

  • Contacts don’t fit properly
  • Protein build up on lens irritates eyes
    • Monthly lenses build up more than daily lenses
  • Overwear of contacts
  • Insufficient oxygen flow
  • Airborne allergens
  • Wearing the wrong prescription
  • Your eyes have changed shape
  • Air conditioning and humid condition

Contact lens rules dry eyes sufferers should follow

Improper contact lens wear and care can cause dry eye issues and can also worsen it.

If you want to fix your dry eyes with contacts, follow these rules to make your experience a  smooth one:

Wash your hands with water and mild soap.

Dry them with a lint-free towel before you touch your lenses. Lint debris from regular towels can often be transferred onto your lens causing eye irritation. If you touch your contacts with clean hands, you won’t transfer pathogens to the lenses and into your eyes.  

Never sleep in your contacts (with exception to Ortho- K contacts).

When you do so, you are at a higher risk of developing an infection on your cornea.

Sleeping in your contacts doesn’t allow your eyes to receive as much oxygen as they would. This results in a potential breeding ground for bacteria. It can also disturb your natural tear film and make your dry eyes worse.

Change the solution in your lens case daily.

After placing the contacts in the eyes, the case should be emptied. It should be rinsed with contact lens solution. It should be set upside down to dry on a clean tissue paper. 

Reusing contact lens solution decreases the effectiveness of the disinfection properties of the solution. This can lead to issues like inflammation and infection. 

Use fresh lenses as directed by your doctor. Do not wear your lenses until they’re worn out. 

Even if you’re careful about cleaning them after  every wear, debris may build up over time. This makes it harder for tears to spread evenly across your eyeballs.

Use rewetting drops even when your eyes don’t feel dry.

Artificial tears give dry eyes sufferers a temporary relief. You can use them even when your eyes feel fine because they help to prevent dryness. 

Let your eyes breathe by going contacts-free for a few hours a day.

This allows your eyes to get good exposure to oxygen and receive nourishment from your natural tear film.

Make regular visits to your eye doctor to ensure your prescription is up-to date.

A comprehensive eye exam by an optometrist or ophthalmologist will make sure your vision is clear but also test for potentially serious eye diseases including glaucoma and even eye cancer.

Lens care solution

Presently, the best lens care product for disinfecting contact lenses is a hydrogen peroxide-based solution. 

If peroxide remains on the contacts after disinfection, they can irritate the eye and worsen symptoms.

People with dry eyes should change their lens care solutions to avoid irritations.

Rewetting drops

Sometimes, contacts get dry from dry environmental conditions. Using rewetting drops can be a big help for soothing relief. 

Rewetting drops are also known as comfort drops or artificial tears. They help to relieve dryness and irritation associated with daily and extended wear of contacts.

Extended wearing of contacts can dry your eyes out. This can make you feel very uncomfortable. 

You should speak with your eye doctor before using rewetting drops with your contacts. Not all lenses are compatible with eye drops. You could ruin your lenses with the wrong eye drop.

Dangers of wearing contacts for too long

Contacts create a barrier around your cornea. It prevents fluids like tears from reaching your eyes, thereby drying them out. This encourages bacteria to grow on your cornea, which can lead to infection.

When you wear your contacts for too long, it can create an irreversible damage to your eyes. It can also give rise to the following:

  • Conjunctivitis
  • Keratitis
  • Corneal Neovascularization

It’s advisable for you to take a break from wearing contacts from time to time. You can switch to prescription glasses when you get home. This will give your eyes an opportunity to breathe.

When you remove your contacts, you should do a warm eye compress. Contacts wearers can benefit greatly from warm eye compress. It helps to improve circulation, soothe inflammation, soften and drain away any blockage.

You don’t have to live in discomfort any longer. Your eyes are worth taking care of, no matter how old you are. Taking care of dry eyes not only relieves discomfort, it can help you avoid infections or even scarred cornea.


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