If you suffer from dry eyes, it can feel impossible to get any relief from the stinging, scratching and burning sensations. Many people believe that wearing contact lenses when suffering from dry eyes may worsen the symptoms or even cause problems with vision. Thankfully, nothing could be further from the truth because the best contact lenses for dry eyes are developed with these risk factors in mind.
So, it’s no longer a question of whether contact lenses are healthy for dry eyes. Rather, what are the best contact lenses for people with dry eye syndrome?
Companies specializing in contacts for dry eyes and dry eye drops for use with contact lenses have made life easier than ever for those with dry eyes. Now you can enjoy the crystal-clear vision you’ve always dreamed of without the risk of hurting your eyes further.
If you’ve always wanted to try daily contact lenses but were afraid that it would irritate your eyes, WebEyeCare is here to help. Here, we walk you through some essential tips, tricks and suggestions of particular contact brands to help keep your eyes looking and feeling their best.
What is Dry Eye Syndrome?
Dry eye syndrome is also known as dry eye disease (DED) or keratoconjunctivitis sicca (KCS). This condition occurs when the eyes cannot produce enough quality tears for lubrication. This condition may also happen when the eyes make low-quality tear fluid that evaporates too quickly, leaving the cornea exposed.
Dry Eye Symptoms
- Burning sensation
- Scratchy/gritty feeling in the eyes
- Red eyes
- Feeling like there’s sand in your eyes
- Photophobia (sensitivity to light)
- Eye fatigue/heavy eyes
- Watery tearing
- Blurry vision
- Discomfort when wearing contacts
What Causes Eye Dryness?
Decreased tear production (medically known as keratoconjunctivitis sicca) is the primary cause of dry eye syndrome. Inadequate tear production occurs with age in men and women, especially after 50 years. Other causes include;
- Situations include riding a bike, being in an air-conditioned room and being on an airplane.
- Environmental irritants, including dry air, wind, pollen and smoke.
- Medical conditions, including vitamin A deficiency, lupus, Sjogren’s syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis and sarcoidosis.
- Side effects of medications such as decongestants, antihistamines, high blood pressure and birth control drugs.
- Problems that don’t allow your eyelids to close properly.
- Inflammatory disorders that affect meibomian glands like blepharitis and rosacea.
- Hormonal changes, especially after menopause.
- Using the wrong contact lenses.
Contact Lenses and Dry Eye Disease
If you experience dry eye syndrome symptoms, you may want to examine your environment for common causes and find ways to avoid them. See your doctor if you think your medication may be the root cause of your problems.
The jury is still out on the relationship between dry eyes and contacts. However, a popular study examining whether material characteristics, eye care solutions and patient factors cause contact lens-related eye dryness has an intriguing discovery.
This study concluded that lenses made of high water content materials were more likely to lead to dry eyes or worsen existing symptoms. The researchers explain that high water content materials cause significant protein deposition from the eye, breaking the tear film and absorbing the lens’s water.
Contrary to what you’d expect, eye care experts opine that dry lenses are the best contacts for dry eyes. Researchers from the study above also observed that silicone hydrogel lenses (with their high oxygen permeability and low water content) helped reduce dry eye symptoms.
Best Brands for Dry Eye Contacts
The search for the most comfortable contact lenses for people with chronic dry eyes has taken research and development to new heights over the last decade. Brands of contact lenses have decreased the thickness of the lenses and developed new formulas to promote comfort without obstructing clear eyesight.
Brands such as Air Optix, Acuvue, and DAILIES are continually improving the technology they use to keep customers with dry eyes comfortable all day long, all without the need for dry eye drops every hour. Here are some of the things you should know about these top brands:
In 2015, Alcon released its HydraGlyde Moisture Matrix technology as a way to address the innovative need for contacts for dry eyes. According to Alcon, “Contact lens discomfort is the most common cause of complaints among soft contact lens wearers. It can be caused by both mechanical friction of the contact lens on the eye and increased evaporation of tears due to the contact lens interrupting the tear film.” The HydraGlyde Moisture Matrix technology embeds itself around the contact lenses’ surface, reducing friction and promoting all-day hydration. Alcon’s Air Optix Plus HydraGlyde offers contacts for dry eyes in a monthly disposable supply to correct near- and farsightedness.
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Acuvue is one of the most popular contact lenses on the market for its comfortable feel, UV eye protection, and product variety. Whether you’re looking for Acuvue’s daily contact lenses or monthly and weekly disposables, Acuvue has you covered. The company is most popular for its Acuvue Oasys with Hydraclear Plus contact lenses. These lenses help maintain advanced hydration to prevent discomfort due to air conditioning, dusty conditions, or dry eyes. The Hydraclear Plus technology is inspired by how our tear ducts work and help maintain a steady supply of moisture to provide comfort to your eyes regardless of the conditions. In addition, the daily contact lenses boast a hydrogel material that allows 88 percent of available oxygen to flow to the eye, helping keep you comfortable all day long.
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If you don’t want to bother with storing your lenses overnight but are still looking for contacts for dry eyes, Dailies may be an excellent choice for you. These contact lenses feature AquaComfort Plus, a technology that provides added moisture each time you blink to keep your eyes hydrated so you can enjoy clear and crisp vision. These lenses are a fantastic choice for kids or people new to contacts because they help create good habits without any cleaning required.
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Best Contacts for Astigmatism and Dry Eyes
Astigmatism is a common vision problem caused by a misshapen cornea. The cornea is the part of the eye that, in collaboration with the lens, refracts light rays to direct them to the retina.
Usually, the cornea is spherical, like a perfectly round soccer ball. However, with astigmatism, the cornea isn’t completely round. Instead, it has a shape that resembles a rugby ball. This irregular shape affects how the cornea bends the rays of lights to the retina leading to distorted, fuzzy and blurry vision.
The exact causes of astigmatism of the eye are not clear yet. But experts agree that genetics play a significant role. While some patients with astigmatism may have it from birth, this condition may develop later in life due to trauma, eye disease or following eye surgery.
Wearing corrective lenses is the easiest way to rectify most cases of astigmatism. In most instances, ophthalmologists recommend particular types of contacts known as torics. The Biofinity and Proclear Multifocal are among the best toric contacts for astigmatism and dry eyes.
Biofinity Toric takes pride in the Aquaform Comfort Science Technology they are engineered with. This technology increases oxygen transmission and ensures excellent water retention capabilities. The result is nicely hydrated, fresh and bright eyes throughout the month. On the other hand, you may want to invest in the Proclear Multifocal torics if you need lenses that correct presbyopia and astigmatism.
Symptoms of Astigmatism
- Blurred vision at any distance
- Partially blurry vision
- Poor night vision
- Tired eyes
- Eye fatigue and irritation
- Squinting to see clearly at any distance
It’s quite a relief to learn that astigmatism does not cause permanent damage. However, astigmatism symptoms worsen if ignored for a prolonged period, just like other eye conditions. Luckily, this condition is easily fixed with refractive surgery and eyeglasses or by wearing contacts for astigmatism and dry eyes.
Eye Exam for Astigmatism
If you’re experiencing some of the symptoms highlighted above, there is a chance that you have astigmatism.
There are special eye charts that aid in screening astigmatism at home. However, a comprehensive eye test by an ophthalmologist is necessary to precisely diagnose the severity of the condition for proper corrective measures.
Doctors use several methods to measure astigmatism:
Visual acuity (VA)- the ophthalmologist will perform this test to measure the clarity of your vision. In a visual acuity test, the doctor wants to see the smallest number you can read from a chart twenty feet away in a visual acuity test.
Refraction- also known as a vision test, this method is used to verify the right prescription for your glasses or contact lenses. During the refraction test, you will sit on a chair and look through an ophthalmic testing device called a refractor or phoropter. A refractor comprises several lenses with varying strengths. The eye specialist changes these lenses in front of your eyes and asks you which lens makes a chart twenty feet away appear clearer than the rest.
Keratometry- an astigmatism diagnosis tool used to evaluate the curvature (shape) of the cornea and, thus, its refractive strength. During a keratometry test, the specialist will shine a light on your eye and use a microscope to view the anterior corneal curvature.
Are Silicone Hydrogel Contacts the Solution for Dry Eyes?
What are Silicone Hydrogel Lenses?
Silicone hydrogels are among the latest developments in the eyecare industry. As the name suggests, these lenses are made from silicone hydrogel- a soft and super flexible material that allows up to five times more oxygen to reach the cornea than regular contacts.
In addition to oxygen permeability, silicone hydrogel contacts have higher wettability and greater clinical performance than traditional contact lenses. Generally, these features mean that silicone hydrogels are more comfortable and can be worn longer than regular contacts.
Benefits of Silicone Hydrogel Contacts
Opticians agree that the significant advantage of silicone hydrogel lenses is their ultra-breathable formula. Unlike other contacts, the amount of oxygen reaching the cornea when wearing silicone hydrogels is not limited to the amount of water that each lens can hold.
This increased oxygen transmissibility reduces hypoxia-related symptoms. Hypoxia is a complication of the eye that occurs if the cornea is not getting enough oxygen. You’re probably aware that the cornea is not supplied with oxygen from the blood. Therefore, it must draw oxygen from the tear fluid and directly from the atmosphere.
The major drawback of regular contact lenses is that they block a large part of the cornea. This impedes the amount of oxygen that reaches the eye and may lead to eye hypoxia symptoms like:
- Inflammation of the cornea
- Scratchy feeling
- Excessive tearing
- Blurred vision
- Burning sensation
Thanks to their permeability, silicone hydrogels are the most comfortable contacts, especially for extended wear (sometimes up to a week straight).
Using Eye Drops for Dry Eyes with Contacts
Even if you wear a brand of contact lenses that you love, there are still times when you could use support from dry eye drops. Unfortunately, using dry eye drops when you wear contacts can be a tricky business. Eye drops are not a one size fits all product, and some dry eye drops are specifically for people without contacts, while others work whether you wear contact lenses or not.
If you suffer from dry eyes, ask your doctor for the best eye drops for dry eyes in contacts. On the same note, if you wear monthly contact lenses and find that you can’t seem to avoid dry eyes, consider switching to daily contact lenses.
Longer wear lenses can develop a protein build-up on the lens’s surface if you aren’t cleaning them thoroughly enough or wearing them overnight without giving your eyes a break.
Daily contact lenses offer a solution that helps create good eye hygiene habits and give you a one-and-done style lens, so you never have to worry about carrying a contact lenses case or contacts solution around.
The best eye drops for dry eyes with contacts relieve the eyes from a multitude of optical woes that come with wearing lenses. Specifically, eye drops for dry eyes will be a worthy investment if your eyes get itchy or red whenever you wear your lenses.
Keep in mind that these eye drops are specially formulated for use with contact lenses. Using the wrong lubrication for your contacts could damage them, consequently impeding their performance or even causing additional eye problems.
Best Type of Contact Lenses for Dry Eyes
If you suffer from dry eyes and wear contacts, finding the best type of contact lenses for your particular needs is crucial. So, what are the best contact lenses for dry eyes?
Daily Disposable Contact Lens
For some people, monthly contacts are an affordable, easy to maintain solution that, depending on the brand, also features advanced hydrating technology. For others, daily contact lenses are the way to go.
Generally, many eye care professionals recommend daily disposable contact lenses for dry eyes because you wear a fresh pair every day. Wearing them for one day only means that the risk of day-to-day protein build-up and potential cornea infection is greatly reduced.
Another advantage of daily contact lenses is convenience. Because they are disposed of at the end of each day, these lenses don’t require cleaning.
All in all, if you’re not sure, ask your doctor to help you evaluate the benefits of daily versus monthly contacts for your eyes.
Alcon Dailies Total 1 are among the best daily contacts for dry eyes out there. These disposable lenses are carefully engineered with SmarTear Technology to stabilize your eyes’ tear film while correcting vision for both near- and farsightedness.
Dailies AquaComfort Plus are another fantastic choice in most recommendations of the best daily contact lenses for dry eyes. If you associate regular lenses with a scratchy feeling or often spend long hours glued to your computer screen, these lenses may be what you need. The formula comprises Triple Action Moisture- a technology that ensures optimum dry eyes hydration without the need for cleaning or storage.
Soft Lenses (Hydrogels)
A Soft lens is another excellent recommendation for people suffering from dry eyes. Soft lenses are made of hydrogel- a flexible, water-loving plastic that feels stiff at first but becomes soft and supple when hydrated.
The flexibility of these lenses allows higher oxygen permeability levels, which promote eye health and reduce the risks of hypoxia-related signs and symptoms. Additionally, soft lenses are relatively easier to wear, and they stay in place better than hard ones.
SofLens by Bausch and Lomb are daily disposables designed to eliminate the halos, glare and blur that come with traditional contacts. These lenses can correct vision issues caused by farsightedness and nearsightedness.
Silicone Hydrogel Lenses
A Silicone Hydrogel lens is an improved and advanced version of hydrogels. The overarching difference between the two is the addition of silicone in the hydrogel material. The result is a more porous lens that allows up to five times more oxygen to get to the cornea from the environment. This enhanced oxygen permeability means that silicone hydrogel lenses are able to keep your eyes happy and comfortable for longer. The high oxygen transmissibility also makes these lenses a suitable choice for extended wear because the risk of eye hypoxia is reduced even further.
Scleral Contact Lenses and Severe Dry Eye
A Scleral lens is a type of lens that forms a dome over the entire surface of the cornea to cover the white of the eye (sclera). Unlike conventional gas permeable (GP) contacts that rest on top of the cornea, sclerals vault over it leaving a gap that acts as a tear reservoir. This reservoir holds moisture, which keeps the eyes hydrated to tackle severe cases of dry eyes.
Scleral GP contact lenses offer all the advantages that you get from regular GP corneal contacts, including vision correction and minimal complications. This means that anyone can be a good candidate for these lenses.
In addition, scleral contact lenses are often a popular choice for patients with irregular corneal surfaces or keratoconus. Because sclerals are custom-made, they will work as expected even when conventional contacts won’t. And despite their large size, scleral contact lenses are as comfortable as the ubiquitous GP corneal contacts.
Contact Lenses for Dry Eyes Tips and Tricks
If you wear daily contact lenses and still suffer from dry eyes, there are a handful of ways to help increase the moisture in your eyes and prevent the irritating symptoms of dry eyes.
Even if you’ve found a brand of dry eye contacts that keep your eyes happy and hydrated, it’s always a good idea to keep dry eye drops on hand in case your eyes begin to feel uncomfortable.
The winter is a particularly rough time for people who suffer from dry eyes. The hot, dry heat inside your home, office and other places you frequent can increase the amount of irritation your eyes experience. Ask your eye doctor about the best dry eye drops that pair with your monthly or daily contact lenses, and keep a bottle with you whenever you’re out and about.
The most important thing to consider when wearing contacts for dry eyes is practicing good eye hygiene. If you wear daily contact lenses, don’t wear them more than you’re supposed to. Dispose of your daily contact lenses each night and replace them with a new pair the next day.
Additionally, be sure that you’re not sleeping in your contact lenses. This can increase the amount of bacteria and dryness that your eyes experience, making your dry eyes even worse.
In addition to practicing good eye health, always make your eye doctor aware of any concerns you have in between your appointments. If your contact lenses aren’t working for you, if you want to switch from monthly to daily contact lenses or need a recommendation for dry eye drops, your eye doctor is there to help you find the best solutions for your needs.
Choosing the Best Contact Solution for Dry Eyes
Except for single-use lenses that you dispose of after a day’s use, other types of contacts require proper care and storage. Cleaning the lenses thoroughly keeps them in top-notch working condition.
Additionally, a good cleaning regimen is crucial for removing oil, debris and microorganisms that build upon the contacts and could potentially cause eye infections.
Taking care of your contacts requires the use of a contact solution. This solution is specially formulated to clean, moisturize, rinse and disinfect the lens.
There are three major types of contact lens solutions:
Multipurpose solutions- these are all-in-one solutions used for cleaning, disinfecting and even storing the lenses. Some multipurpose solution formulas contain a wetting agent, such as hyaluronate, that keeps the lenses moisturized to help with eye dryness and symptoms.
Hydrogen peroxide solution- opticians, will recommend hydrogen peroxide solution as a suitable alternative if you have sensitive eyes and are easily irritated by multipurpose contact formulas. This cleaning solution relies on hydrogen peroxide to break up deposits and clean the lenses. You can also use a hydrogen peroxide contact solution to disinfect and store your soft contacts.
However, note that hydrogen peroxide-based cleaners should never be used to rinse contact lenses. It’s essential to let your contacts soak in the hydrogen peroxide solution for four to eight hours before putting them in. This is enough time to allow the solution to fully neutralize and reduce the risk of stinging and burning sensations that freshly filled hydrogen peroxide causes.
Rigid gas permeable contact lens solutions- rigid gas permeable (RGP) contact lenses are an alternative to conventional soft lenses. RGP contacts are made from a firm, silicone-containing material that allows air (oxygen) to permeate and reach the eye. Because RGP contact lenses are designed differently, they require a different cleaning system for deposit-busting, cleaning, wetting and disinfecting.
There’s a reason why your eye doctor recommends a particular type of contact lens solution over another one. Each type of contact lens requires a unique formulation for cleaning, hydrating, disinfecting and storing.
If you’re not sure, it’s important to consult your doctor for advice on the best contact solution for dry eyes. This is because incorrect care of contacts may lead to damage to the contacts and an increased risk of eye injuries.
Frequently Asked Questions
Multifocal contact lenses have multiple fields of vision within one lens to help you see up-close, at-distance, and at arm’s length. While wearing these contacts, you won’t need to worry about switching to a different prescription lenses when you change your activity, like reading or driving.
It may take a few days or sometimes weeks to adjust when you first start wearing multifocal contact lenses, until your eyes get used to the lenses. Until then, your vision may be blurry or hazy. Just remember that it’s temporary and it’s the best solution for people with presbyopia.
If your work involves working on a computer, multifocal contact lenses may be the best option for you. Adjust your monitor screen position to give you the best view (instead of tilting your head at an uncomfortable angle). The multifocal lens has different fields of vision and you need to learn how to focus on the right one to see an object clearly.
Yes- FDA-approved colored contact lenses are safe to use. However, just like your regular lenses, these medical devices are only as safe as you care for them.
While contact lenses are generally safe to use, they carry the risk of a corneal infection called keratitis. In a 2016-2018 report, the researchers concluded that keratitis is mainly caused by extended lens wear, sleeping in contact lenses and poor contact lens hygiene.
Unfortunately, there’s no permanent cure for this eye condition, at least for now. However, dry eye patients can manage dry eye symptoms with frequent eyelid washing and using artificial tears (OTC eye drops) frequently. Wearing sunglasses when it’s windy, taking regular breaks from the screen and avoiding environmental factors, such as dry air and smoke, may help.
This is an individualized approach to managing various eye problems. It involves a sequence of orthoptic eye exercises tailored to improve how a person with low vision receives and interprets visual information. Vision therapy is used to treat visual problems, such as lazy eye, focusing insufficiency, and eye turns. It may take up to six months for its benefits to be realized.
Successful eye protection with contact lenses begins with a good understanding of what to avoid when wearing these ocular devices. A contact lens wearer should avoid;
- Wearing lenses for longer than one should
- Topping off contact lens solution
- Sleeping in contact lenses unless advised otherwise by an ophthalmologist
- Showering in contact lenses
- Washing or rinsing contact lenses in tap water