If you have dry eye disease, you’re well aware of the irritating symptoms that can come with it. If you wear contact lenses, these symptoms can be even worse.
If you have dry eye disease, it doesn’t mean you can’t wear contacts! At Cowichan Eyecare we’re here to help you find the right contacts so you can see clearly and comfortably, no matter what your needs are.
Keep reading to learn more about dry eye disease, the treatments available, and how to choose the best types of contacts best for dry eyes.
What is Dry Eye Disease?
Your tears have three layers: an oily layer, a watery layer, and a mucous layer. For your tears to function properly, they need to have an adequate amount of each of these layers.
If your tears lack any one of these layers it can lead to two types of dry eye disease:
- Evaporative dry eye occurs when there isn’t enough of the oily layer in your tears, causing your tears to evaporate too quickly
- Aqueous tear deficient dry eye occurs when your tears lack the aqueous layer needed to keep the eye moist
What are the Symptoms of Dry Eye Disease?
There are many different symptoms associated with dry eye disease. Some of the common symptoms you may experience include:
- Stinging, scratching, or a burning sensation
- Sensitivity to light
- Feeling like something is stuck in your eye
- Watery eyes
- Stringy mucus near the eye
- Blurred vision
- Difficulty wearing contacts
Can I Wear Contacts If I Have Dry Eyes?
If you have dry eye disease, it doesn’t mean you can’t wear contact lenses anymore, it just means you might have to use a specific type or brand.
If you have dry eye symptoms, it’s best to book an appointment with your optometrist. Your optometrist has the experience and specific knowledge to help determine the root cause of your symptoms and get you the treatment you need.
Your optometrist can also recommend contact lenses to suit your needs if you’re experiencing dry eyes.
Types of Contact Lenses for Dry Eyes
If you have dry eyes and you’re experiencing discomfort when wearing contact lenses, you might have to consider switching the type of brand that you normally wear. Types of contact lenses suitable for dry eyes include:
Daily Disposable Contact Lenses
Daily disposable contact lenses are generally the best choice for patients with dry eyes. These single-use lenses are removed and discarded at the end of each day. The next day, a new, fresh pair of lenses is applied to the eyes.
Because daily disposable lenses are thrown out after a single use, protein deposits don’t have the time to build-up and the lenses won’t dry out as a result of improper cleaning routines.
Soft contact lenses are made of soft, flexible plastics, and hydrogels that allow oxygen to pass through to the cornea. Most soft contacts are meant to be replaced daily and disposed of after each use, but some brands can be worn for up to 30 days.
Because soft contacts contain hydrogel and allow more oxygen to reach the cornea, soft contact lenses may alleviate dry eye symptoms.
Silicone-Based Hydrogel Lenses
For even more effective soft contact lenses, look for brands that use silicone-based hydrogel. Silicone-based hydrogel lenses can help draw moisture towards the eye, slow tear evaporation, and reduce dry eye symptoms.
Rigid Gas-Permeable Lenses
Rigid gas-permeable lenses are a bit denser compared to soft contacts, but still allow some oxygen to travel through to the cornea. A specialized type of rigid gas-permeable lenses called scleral lenses can improve dry eye symptoms.
Scleral lenses have a wider diameter and sit over the cornea instead of on it. This creates a sort of tear-filled space, which can help keep the eye hydrated.
Tips for Wearing Contact Lenses with Dry Eye
Follow these useful tips for preventing or relieving dry eye symptoms while wearing contact lenses:
- Follow a proper contact lens hygiene routine
- Change lenses or solutions as recommended by your optometrist
- Do not wear contact lenses for longer than prescribed by your optometrist
- Use artificial tears to add moisture to your eyes before putting in contact lenses
- Use eye drops regularly throughout the day to prevent your eyes from becoming too dry
- Use eye drops without preservatives if you have sensitive eyes
If you still experience dry eye symptoms after trying different lenses, solutions, and brands, it’s best to just stop wearing your contacts altogether. Then, book an appointment with your eye doctor to see what to do next.
At Cowichan Eyecare, we specialize in treating dry eyes and we’re here to help you experience comfortable vision once again! Book an appointment today or call us if you have any questions or concerns.