Today, over 30 million Americans use contact lenses for vision correction. For most of them, contacts are a welcome alternative to bulky and limiting eyeglasses. They usually make the switch as soon as the option is available for them. However, not everyone has the same pristine and perfect experience with contact lenses. Sometimes, they come with a burden of their own.
Some people may develop a condition called contact lens-induced dry eyes. While regular dry eye is a common condition, this form of it is the most common complaint eye doctor receive from their patients. Dry eye symptoms can be overwhelming, but they can be unbearable with contacts.
Contact lens-induced dry eye is a condition that affects the ability of the eyes to stay lubricated because of contacts. Many with this condition may not have had dry eyes before wearing the lenses.
Contact lenses sit on the anterior surface of the eye. When you put on the lenses, a tear film usually forms between the lens and the cornea. The cornea takes oxygen directly from the environment.
The contact lenses lie between the cornea and the eye's source of oxygen. While contacts are designed to allow oxygen, some wearers may experience dry eyes due to this blockage.
Another reason dry eye may occur from contact lens use is the absorption of tears. Soft contact lenses require moisture to stay soft and maintain their structure and shape. When the lenses absorb the tears that your eyes produce, they leave you feeling dry.
You can try artificial tears that come in eye drops for use with contact lenses. You can get over-the-counter eye drops from your pharmacy to help refresh your eyes. You can see your eye doctor for alternative options if they fail to work.
You can take oral vitamins that increase the nutrients that go to your eye. This option not only helps with dry eye and contact lens comfort but also with overall eye health.
Silicone Hydrogel Lenses
These are new, revolutionary lenses specifically designed to ensure the eye receives enough oxygen. They let up to five times more oxygen than traditional lens materials. You can wear these over a much longer period, and they also reduce the chance of dry eye on top of being much more comfortable.
Low Water Content Lenses
You may think that the higher the water content in the lens, the more comfortable it is. However, low water content lenses absorb less of your tears but allow less oxygen. In contrast, high water content lenses allow more oxygen but absorb more tears, making dry eye worse.
These specialty lenses allow more oxygen and maintain a dam of tears under them. Also, they sit on the sclera instead of the cornea. The dam of tears that forms under them keeps the cornea hydrated and healthy.
For more on whether your contact lenses are causing dry eye symptoms, visit Ocean Park Optometry at our office in Santa Monica, California. Call (310) 452-1039 to book an appointment today.