Many people experience dry eyes at some point in their lives. For some it is caused by allergies, medications or environmental factors, but for some it is a chronic condition.
Dry eye syndrome, Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca, is described as the continued lack of adequate lubrication or moisture on the eye surface. The eye uses tears to create constant moisture and this moisture is what allows the eye to function properly. Tears are composed of water, oils, antibodies, proteins and mucus; these elements create moisture, lubrication, prevent infection and evenly distribute this compound on the eye surface.
Essentially, tears wash the eye, keep it moist and clean away dust and debris which helps prevent infections. Tears are released onto the eye surface by glands or ducts located around the eye and when this system is functioning improperly individuals can experience dry eyes. Specifically, the dryness and the lack of constant bathing and hydrating, impact the cornea and conjunctiva and causes irritation. The type and range of symptoms are varied but they can include: pain, grittiness or sandiness, itching, burning, and blurry vision.
For many, the idea of wearing contact lenses and having dry eyes are mutually exclusive. Sometimes contact lens wearers who are experiencing dry eyes symptoms are reluctant to contact their eye doctor for fear that they will be told they cannot wear contacts. It is important to stress that if you are experiencing eye dryness, you should contact your Ophthalmologist at once, since excessive dryness can damage the eye. However, there have been strong advances in contact lens options and it is most likely that your eye care professional can help you to find the type of lens, hydrating solution or cleaning system that can make continued contact lens use possible and comfortable.
Contact Lenses for Dry Eyes
There are a several contact lenses on the market that have been identified as particularly compatible for individuals that have mild, dry eye symptoms and discomfort. Your eye doctor can help you determine if these are right for you during an eye exam. However, what they may do first is rule out a number of possibilities that could be contributing to or causing your dry eyes.
For some, the cleaning and disinfecting system they are using is incompatible with their contacts. Switching brands or changing to a single-step system can impact the performance and comfort of your contact lenses. Some of the ingredients in these solutions are not compatible with all types contact lenses and it is important to share with your eye doctor if you are using a new product or a product that is different than your contact lens manufacturer or eye doctor recommended.
It is also possible that you are allergic or sensitive to one of the ingredients, particularly in multi-purpose solutions because they contain preservatives. Next, when individuals first experience dry eyes they often reach for over the counter eye drops and not all of these are compatible with contact lens wear. In fact, some of these products can exaggerate the problem. It is important to provide your eye doctor with as much information as possible about your eye care and contact lens care routine to determine if you need new contacts or simply a change in your cleaning system or eye drops.
Dry eye syndrome is a medical condition that needs to be evaluated and managed by your eye doctor to ensure that you receive proper treatment and care, but it does not require excluding the use of contact lenses. Contacting your Ophthalmologist or Optometrist at the first sign of symptoms is an important first step in addressing and treating the problem, preventing damage and avoiding needless suffering.