Dry eyes & contact lenses: Are they connected?
Without a doubt, contact lenses have a positive impact on millions of peoples’ lives. However, they can become frustrating to wear if you suffer from dry, itchy eyes. There are so many solutions to contact lens discomfort – and no, switching to glasses isn’t the only way out!
If you suffer from dry eyes, leading optician Brendan O’Brien from Vision Direct shares the latest advice on how to keep symptoms at bay.
What are the causes of dry eyes?
Throughout the day, your eyes are constantly exposed to dust, dirt and pollution particles. These affect the tear film – the watery substance that has a lubricating but also protective function – which can cause the annoying sensation of dryness. A healthy eye would produce that substance naturally, through the lacrimal gland.
The causes of dry eyes can be quite varied, and it’s best to speak to your optician as soon as you experience any of these problems:
- External factors, such as environments with poor humidity or windy, places exposed to smoke
- or particularly dusty, excessive use of air conditioning or heating.
- Medical disorders.
- Contact lenses unsuitable for the conditions of your eyes or an allergy to the materials used.
- Taking drugs such as antihistamines, antidepressants, oral contraceptives,
- Behavioral factors.
- Digital eye strain.
- Hormonal alterations, such as the menopause/andropause or pregnancy.
Contact lenses to combat dry eyes
Choosing the right contact lenses from a trusted supplier is key to having good eye health. Making informed decisions by speaking to your optician about your symptoms and different materials should be the first step. As well as correcting your vision, contact lenses must also be suitable for the curvature of your eye and must not have any factory defects, such as edges that are too sharp or irregular. Environmental factors can negatively affect the contact lenses hydration which is when the lenses draw on the tear film to restore lubrication.
Luckily, there are now different types of lenses to overcome this problem.
Lenses with low water content
The most common mistake people make which leads to eye dehydration is thinking they should go for a lens with a high hydration rate. If you do this, the lens will tend to hydrate the eye, giving it all the liquid that it contains in a short amount of time. Consequently, the dryness of the contact lens will be added to the dry eye, which means it could lose its initial geometric characteristics and cause damage to the cornea.
The advisable solution is to opt for soft lenses with low water content, designed precisely to retain water, maintaining the right balance between the lens liquid and that of the eye.
Daily disposable lenses
Studies show that this type of lens is one of the best solutions for those who want to get rid of
that annoying feeling of dryness in their eyes. Daily lenses require minimum levels of maintenance, and are easy to use.
Thanks to their silicone polymer coating, these new generation lenses have a limited tear evaporation while at the same time keeping the eye hydrated. This way, the cornea receives five times more oxygen which keeps your eyes constantly lubricated, as if you had no lenses in at all. Some of these lenses can be worn during the night, or for a long period of time, without feeling any discomfort.
It’s also worth noting that as well as wearing the right contact lenses for your eyes, eye drops can also be a good way to keep your eyes hydrated.