If you wear contacts, you might suffer from dry eyes — especially this time of year. Try our tips to find the right contacts to make your eyes more comfortable.
If you’re one of the nearly five million Americans who experience dry eyes, you know how uncomfortable and even painful the condition can be. There are many possible reasons for dry eyes — everything from pollution to hormonal changes to diseases of the eye — and wearing contact lenses is one common risk factor that leads to that dry-eye feeling.
If you think your contacts are the cause of your eye discomfort and dryness, check out our recommendations for preventing dry eyes.
Tip #1: Choose the right contact lenses for dry eyes.
Your eye doctor can help you make the right decision about which lenses are best, but here are a few things to consider.
First, will you wear daily contacts or extended wear? Daily contact lenses are often the best choice for people with dry eyes, because they are made with water-containing hydrogel. Silicone hydrogel lenses can do an even better job of reducing the evaporation that contributes to dry eye. Another reason dailies are a good choice? Protein deposits can build up on extended wear lenses, and these deposits can irritate your eyes and contribute to dryness.
Second, know the water content of your lenses and how that might contribute (or detract from) comfort. Soft contact lenses are categorized as either high-water content or low-water content lenses. While it may seem counter-intuitive, low-water content lenses are actually better for people who struggle with dry eyes. That’s because high-water contacts tend to dry out faster.
One last thing: Ask your doctor about which size of contact lens you should wear. Most contact lenses only cover the iris, but scleral contacts also cover the white portion of the eye, called the sclera. These lenses are gas permeable, meaning they allow oxygen to the eye, promoting comfort in some people.
Tip #2: Exercise proper contact lens care and hygiene.
Like it or not, you shouldn’t wear your contacts beyond the intended amount of time. To protect your eye health and prevent discomfort, including dryness, stick to the wear schedule provided by your eye doctor.
Here are some additional lens care and hygiene practices you should never compromise on:
- Don’t wear contacts while you sleep, unless your contacts are specifically intended for that purpose.
- Wash and thoroughly dry your hands (with a clean, lint-free towel) before handling your contact lenses.
- Only use a sterile solution to clean or rewet your contacts, and never reuse solution.
Tip #3: Try rewetting eye drops.
Not all eye drops are safe to use when you are wearing your contact lenses. Drops made for dry eyes might make your vision cloudy if used with contacts.
But there are eye drops specifically intended for use with contacts. Called rewetting drops, these hydrate both the surface of your eye and your contact lens, temporarily relieving the dryness and making your eyes more comfortable. Look for drops that indicate they are safe to use with contacts on the label.
It’s also a good practice to put eye drops in prior to putting your contacts in in the morning, and after you take your contacts out for the evening. Just like you need lotion to moisturize your skin, eye drops can help lubricate the surface of your eyes and keep them comfortable.
Tip #4: Consider changing your contact solution.
Look for a contact lens solution that is preservative-free, since preservatives can irritate your eyes. You may also be using a solution that isn’t compatible with your type of lens. Ask your eye doctor to recommend the right solution for your eyes and your contacts.
One final tip: See an eye doctor if you experience dry eye symptoms that just won’t go away, especially if your eyes are red, irritated or you’re having pain with the dryness.
Struggling with dry eye? We can help. Contact us today to schedule an eye exam and to learn which solutions are right for you.