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I’ve got dry eye, can I still wear contact lenses?

Dry eye and contact lenses

Dry Eye does not have to mean farewell to your contacts

Contact lenses can bring you great all-round natural vision and the freedom from glasses that many contact lens wearers love, but these benefits can come at a price for those with a tendency for dry eye. There has long been a link between contact lens wearing discomfort and dry eyes, this is known as ‘contact lens induced dry eye’ or CLIDE. Furthermore, the loss of contact lens wearing comfort remains the single biggest reason for people stopping contact lens wear altogether.

Dry Eye Zone explains why these problems can occur and how you can help overcome them. Having dry eyes does not have to mean an end to enjoying contact lens wear. Here is why ….

A common problem not to be ignored

Symptoms of eye dryness are reported by around 40% of contact lens wearers, these symptoms include dry, gritty, sore and red eyes. This incidence rises to a worrying 70% towards the end of the day. This is made all the more complex when you add to the mix blepharitis or meibomian gland dysfunction, both of which are associated with loss of contact lens wearing comfort.

Why contact lens wear sometimes leads to dry feeling eyes

There have been great advances in the materials, and designs, used to make contact lenses and lenses have never been more comfortable. However, once in the eye the contact lens inevitably disrupts the protective fluid covering the surface of our eyes – our tear-film. Because the contact lens is ‘floating’ within our tears it separates the layers and alters the natural flow of this moisturising fluid, disrupting the tear-films’ ability to perform its’ role in eye comfort, health and vision quality.

For most people, with good contact lens practice, this is not an issue but if your tears are already compromised in terms of their quality or quantity, it is easy to see how things might become a problem.

Your environment has a role to play too

You might want to think about the impact your environment is having too. When faced with windy weather make sure you are wearing sun glasses to help protect your eyes. It is also worth considering reducing the temperature of your room or turning down the air conditioning. Both these actions will improve your contact lens wearing comfort.

And if you are one of the millions of people spending their working day in front of a computer screen make sure you give your eyes regular, much needed breaks.

Make sure you follow the rules

To help protect your eyes and get the most comfortable wear from your lenses make sure you follow the guidance given to you by your eye care professional. This includes not over wearing your lenses, following hygiene advice and never sleeping in your contacts. If you do accidently snooze then be sure to ease your lenses out with a few drops of your recommended eye drops first.

These rules apply to everyone and not just if you have dry eye where loss of contact lens wearing comfort can be a problem.

Top-tips from Dry Eye Zone on how to keep wearing your contact lenses

To help reduce the likelihood of CLIDE occurring there are a few simple things you can do.

Make sure your dry eyes are well hydrated using a preservative free contact lens friendly dry eye drop such as HydraMed. These eye drops will help to keep your eyes moist and comfortable. But do not wait for dry eye symptoms to start before reaching for your eye drops, instead use them regularly throughout the day and especially when you are in a drying environment.

Heat therapy can help

In addition to the use of dry eye drops heat therapy can also bring improvements in comfortable contact lens wearing time. This is especially true if meibomian gland dysfunction is suspected. Specialist hot compresses, such as Eyeleve, provide consistent, therapeutic moist heat that promotes natural hydration and alleviates symptoms. You can find out more here.

This is a game-changer

Dry Eye Zone would also recommend that before you put your contact lenses in you place a drop of HydraMed onto the inner surface of the contact lens first. This cushions the lens in the eye and helps bring additional comfort. A study among eye care professionals showed that that HydraMed improved comfortable wearing times for 83% of respondents and reduced by four times the level of reported eye dryness and grittiness.

If you are experiencing dry eye symptoms and wear contact lenses then you should ask the advice of your eye care professional. Do not leave things untreated as symptoms may progress. Why not book your next eye examination with an independent optician today.


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