Discover the causes of dry eyes and read about suggested contact lenses and solutions to combat the condition.
Dry eye occurs when the volume of tears that are produced naturally to lubricate your eyes becomes deficient. The condition can actually damage your eye's surface and causes discomfort and severe irritation. You can also get dry eyes if you are exposed to certain chemicals or drugs and eyes can become irritated if you are allergic to things like pollen or through wearing contact lenses.
Symptoms of dry eye are usually redness, a burning or stinging sensation and eyes that water non-stop. Your vision may also be a bit blurry.
Many contact lens wearers - studies show up to 50% - suffer from dry eyes, often because their eyes just can't cope with having a plastic barrier in them. Tear production is often disrupted by the use of lenses meaning some patients can only wear them for short periods and others have to discontinue their use. Some dry eye patients can only wear lenses comfortably for short periods of time and others are unable to tolerate contacts at all.
Certain multipurpose solutions contain preservatives which can irritate eyes and worsen dryness rather than add a lubricating film to make lenses more comfortable. A study highlighted by optical retailer AC Lens showed that many wearers experienced more comfortable contact lens wear using a preservative-free solution called Purilens Plus versus other brands like OptiFree, Renu and Complete that DO contain preservatives.
I guess it's a bit like being a coeliac; once you know you're allergic to wheat, then you avoid it so the same goes for preservatives in contact lens solution.
There are several ways to combat dry eyes and feel more comfortable in your contacts through the day:
Contact lens rewetting drops: A temporary solution for quick relief - and a pain if you have to keep rewetting lenses several times a day! Some examples are Refresh Contacts, Clerz Plus, or Clear Eyes Contact Lens Relief. If you have sensitive eyes, avoid products with preservatives.
Re-soak lenses during the day: Again a chore, but necessary if you want to wear contacts and not be plagued by dry eyes too.
Proper care of lenses: Make sure you change disposable lenses at the correct time - eg. do NOT be tempted to wear those daily lenses for 2 days! Also make sure you disinfect and clean contacts correctly to remove any protein deposits and other types of build-up on the lens surface. You could also try switching to a more moist contact lens like Acuvue Moist, a daily disposable lens, if you experience dry eyes when wearing a 2 week disposable lens.
Blink more often: Staring at a screen without blinking will worsen your dry eyes! Blinking fully and often helps to move the tears across the eye, therefore preventing dryness.
Try a different contact lens: Many brands are designed specifically to minimize dryness and offer supreme comfort even in challenging environments. One example is the super comfortable Acuvue Oasys. Or try the even more comfy though more expensive Acuvue TruEye. These state of the art lenses feel like you're not wearing contact lenses at all!
Try some of the above to help prevent the causes of dry eyes!