Dry eye syndrome affects millions of individuals, but the condition is often more pronounced for those who wear contact lenses. Contacts can often exacerbate dry eye symptoms, causing the eyes to become red, irritated, gritty, or itchy. Fortunately, there are several remedies for those suffering from contact lens-related dry eye issues.
Drs. Eric Del Piero and Leland Rosenblum discuss contact lenses and dry eyes and explore treatment options that can improve your comfort. We can discuss these matters in more detail at our offices proudly to serving the Monterey, Salinas, and King City, CA area.
Dry Eye Causes
The National Eye Institute reports that nearly 5 million Americans suffer from dry eye symptoms. Dry eye can be caused by several different factors, including:
- Hormonal changes, such as menopause
- Certain drugs, such as blood pressure medications, birth control, antihistamines, and antidepressants
- Damage to the tear glands
- Damaged skin around the eyes
- Autoimmune conditions, such as Sjogren’s syndrome
In addition, dry eye syndrome can be caused or exacerbated by wearing contact lenses for prolonged periods of time. According to one study published in Optometry & Vision Science, approximately 50 percent of all contact lens wearers develop dry eye.
Contact Lenses for Dry Eyes
Fortunately, having dry eyes does not mean that you must stop wearing contacts. There are several contact lens options available for patients suffering from the condition. Before determining which option is right for you, your doctor will perform a comprehensive eye exam.
Below are some factors that will be considered when choosing the right option for you.
Contact Lens Material
There are several different types of contact lenses, from hard and soft to disposable and extended wear. Protein deposits can accumulate on extended wear lenses, and this can make the eyes feel ever drier. As a result, those with dry eyes often do better with soft, disposable lenses.
As an added layer of protection, you may wish to try silicone-based hydrogel lenses, which slow the water evaporation process and reduce the risk of dry eye.
Contact Lens Size
Though it varies for every patient, some individuals report fewer dry eye symptoms with larger contact lenses. The majority of contact lenses are approximately nine millimeters in diameter and cover the iris.
Scleral contact lenses are approximately 15 to 22 millimeters across, and they cover the whites of the eyes as well. These lenses are gas-permeable, which means they allow oxygen to reach the eye’s surface. As a result, some patients experience fewer dry eye symptoms when wearing scleral lenses.
Contact Lens Water Content
Soft contact lenses have different water content levels, depending on the type you choose.
While it seems that high-water content lenses would be more beneficial for dry eye sufferers, the opposite is actually true. Lenses with high water content bring more moisture to the eye when they are first worn, but the eyes tend to dry out more quickly. Your eye doctor can help you find a contact lens option that works for you.
Schedule an Appointment Today
If you wear contact lenses and have dry eyes, there are options that can help. Schedule an appointment at Monterey County Eye Associates to speak with one of our experienced doctors. Contact us online or call our office at (831) 375-2020.