Do I Need Contacts If I Have Dry Eye?
Dry eye is a common condition that occurs when the eyes do not produce enough tears or the tears you do produce evaporate too quickly.
This can be caused by various factors such as age, medication, hormonal changes, or environmental conditions. Symptoms of dry eye include dryness, irritation, redness, and discomfort.
If you have dry eye and wear contacts, you may be wondering if you need to continue wearing them or if there are alternative options. Here are some things to consider when deciding whether to wear contacts with dry eye:
- The severity of your dry eye: If you have severe dry eyes, you may need to avoid wearing contacts all together or only wear them on a limited basis. In these cases, glasses may be a more comfortable and suitable option. However, if your dry eye is mild to moderate, you may be able to wear contacts as long as you follow proper care and hygiene guidelines.
- The underlying cause of your dry eye: It’s important to identify the cause of your dry eye and address it appropriately. If your dry eye is caused by a medical condition, such as Sjogren’s syndrome, or a medication you are taking, you may need to adjust your treatment plan. This may include avoiding certain types of contact lenses or switching to a different medication.
Contact Lens Options for Dry Eye
Contact lenses are not right for everyone, especially if you have allergies or dry eye. However, different types of contact lenses and lens therapies can work well to help you find comfort while dealing with dryness. Your doctor may suggest:
- Soft contact lenses: These are the most common type of contact lens and are made of a flexible material that conforms to the shape of the eye. Some soft lenses are specifically designed for people with dry eye, such as daily disposable lenses or lenses made with a higher water content.
- Hard contact lenses: Also known as rigid gas permeable (RGP) lenses, these are made of a rigid material that allows oxygen to pass through to the eye. They are less likely to cause dry eye than soft lenses because the lenses themselves do not dry and become brittle with exposure to the air, but they may take longer to get used to and may not be as comfortable for some people
- Lens therapies: There are several lens therapies that can help alleviate dry eye symptoms when using contact lenses. These may include:
- Wetting agents: These are applied to the surface of the lens to help keep them moist and comfortable.
- Lubricating eye drops: These can be used to lubricate the eye and provide temporary relief from dryness and discomfort.
- Lipid-based lubricants: These are used to replace the natural oils in the tear film, which can help prevent the tears from evaporating too quickly.
- Eye drops: There are several types of eye drops available that can help alleviate dry eye symptoms. These include artificial tears and prescription drops to mediate inflammation or decreased tear production.
Scleral Lenses for Dry Eye
One of the most effective forms of treatment for dry are scleral lenses. Scleral lenses are large, specialized contact lenses that are designed to cover the entire front surface of the eye, including the sclera (white part of the eye). They are often used to treat severe dry eye syndrome and other conditions that affect the surface of the eye. Scleral lenses can help to alleviate the symptoms of dry eye by creating a protective layer over the front surface of the eye and by providing a stable, moist environment for the eye.
Scleral lenses are custom-made to fit the unique shape of each person’s eye, and they are filled with a sterile saline solution before being placed on the eye. They are typically worn during the day and removed at night.
It’s important to work with an eye doctor to determine if scleral lenses are the right treatment option for your dry eye syndrome. They may not be suitable for everyone, and proper lens care and hygiene is essential to avoid complications.
The Benefits of Wearing Contacts
If you prefer the convenience and appearance of contacts, you may be willing to put up with some discomfort in order to wear them. In these cases, it’s important to discuss your options with your eye doctor and find a solution that works for you.
Your doctor may mention tips for managing dry eye while wearing contacts that include:
- Following proper contact lens care and hygiene guidelines: Make sure to clean and disinfect your lenses as directed by your eye doctor. Avoid using tap water to clean your lenses and never reuse contact lens solution.
- Use artificial tears: These can help lubricate the eye and provide temporary relief from dryness and discomfort. Ask your doctor if using artificial tears before placing your contact lenses in you eye to trap the moisture against your eye is a good option for you.
- Avoiding dry environments: Use a humidifier to add moisture to the air in your home or office, and avoid spending long periods of time in front of a computer or other screens.
- Take breaks from contacts: If you experience discomfort while wearing contacts, try taking them out for a short period of time and using artificial tears to lubricate the eye. Your doctor may suggest wearing glasses instead of contacts for short periods of time.
There are many ways that contact lens wearers can comfortably wear correction even with dry eyes. It’s important to consult with your eye doctor to determine the best treatment option for your specific needs and to ensure the health and comfort of your eyes by scheduling an eye exam at Weston Contact Lens Institute to improve your quality of life by giving yourself the gift of clear, comfortable vision.