If you wear contact lenses you no doubt have had to deal with dry eyes on occasion. This is especially true during the winter months and at the end of long workdays. Certainly, one of the questions we get most from people is how they can avoid dry eyes while wearing contacts. Below we’re going to take a look at the symptoms of dry eyes, the causes and what you can do to prevent your eyes drying out while wearing contact lenses.
Dry Eye Symptoms
Nature anticipated the phenomenon of dry eyes. That’s why we have tear ducts. The primary biological function of tears is to lubricate our eyes, not to express sadness. Without our tear ducts our eyes would shrivel up and we’d all go blind in pretty short order. When a person wears contacts all day it can interfere with the ability of the tear ducts to keep the eyes properly lubricated. The result is:
- Soreness around the eyes.
- Blurry vision.
The longer you have the contacts in the more acute these symptoms are likely to become. Especially if you are not practising some common sense techniques that can help minimize the effects of dry eyes. Those common-sense techniques include:
- Limiting the use of your contacts - Most eye doctors recommend limiting the use of contact lenses to 8-10 hours per day. However, most contact wearers ignore this advice and wear their daily contacts from the minute they get out of bed until the minute they get back into bed 15 or 16 hours later. By heeding your doctor’s advice and limiting the number of hours you wear your contacts you’ll allow your eyes to properly oxygenate and help stave off dry eyes from contact overuse. You may also consider taking your contacts out when you sit down to work on the computer since computer users tend to stare at the screen without blinking much. Which really dries out the eyes.
- Using artificial tears - One smart way to help avoid dry eyes from contacts is to carry a bottle of artificial tears with you and use them to moisten your eyes at regular intervals during the day. The best artificial tears don’t contain any harsh chemicals or preservatives that might irritate your eyes, so you can use them with impunity. Just make sure to avoid those drops that are formulated to remove redness because all they do is restrict blood vessels in the eye which can exacerbate dryness and soreness.
- Drinking Water - No single thing you can do will help you avoid dry eyes from your contacts like drinking enough water. During the winter months, people tend to think that because they’re not sweating as they do in the summer that the threat of dehydration is gone. Nothing could be further from the truth. The fact is that winter air is often bone dry air which means it literally sucks the moisture out of you. If you don’t drink enough water in wintertime every part of you that is exposed to the cold, dry air is going to suffer. Including your eyes. The best way to prevent that is to drink water. And lots of it.
Are Some Contacts Better Than Others for Preventing Dry Eyes?
Different people react differently to contacts. But as a general rule soft contact lenses are considered to be less likely to cause dry eyes than hard contacts. That’s because many soft contacts do a better job of retaining moisture than hard contacts. One thing to be aware of is the water content of your lenses.
When producing the plastic for contact lenses manufacturers use different amounts of water in the plastic mixture. More water in the mix generally means the lens is more flexible than a lens with lower water content. This flexibility allows the lens to retain more of the eye’s natural moisture which in turn helps stave off dry eyes. In addition, some lenses like Oasys contacts by Acuvue, are more breathable than others which can also help with water retention.
Advances in Contact Design
Contact lenses have undergone near continuous refinement since German ophthalmologist Adolf Fick fabricated the first successful contact lens in 1888. By 1940 unwieldy glass lenses were being replaced by plastic and in 1971 the FDA approved the sale of the first soft contact lenses in the US. Today’s silicone hydrogel lenses are extremely permeable and allow lots of oxygen to penetrate to the eye. This permeability also enables fluid to pass easily through the lens membrane, which helps to prevent dry eyes.
Dry eyes are a common complaint among contact wearers. However, dry eyes don’t have to be inevitable. Take the above tips to heart and you will be well on your way toward alleviating the causes of dry eyes, which will make wearing your contacts much more pleasurable.