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Assessing The Role of Contact Lenses on Dry Eye Syndrome

Dry EyeContact lenses are a popular vision correction option for many people but can contribute to dry eye symptoms. Dry eye syndrome occurs when the eyes do not produce enough tears or when tears evaporate too quickly. Studies found that within three years of starting to use contact lenses, 10%–50% of users tend to discontinue use. Contact lens discomfort (CLD) is the most often claimed cause, and dry eye is the symptom mentioned most among dropouts. In this article, we'll explore the role of contact lenses on dry eye syndrome.

Symptoms of Dry Eye Syndrome

Before delving into the role of contact lenses on dry eye syndrome, let's briefly review the symptoms associated with this condition.

  1. Dryness or grittiness in the eyes.
  2. Burning or stinging sensations in the eyes.
  3. Itching or redness in the eyes.
  4. Excessive tearing.
  5. Blurred vision.
  6. Sensitivity to light.
  7. Eye fatigue or discomfort.
  8. Difficulty wearing contact lenses.

The Role of Contact Lenses on Dry Eye Syndrome

Contact lenses can contribute to dry eye syndrome in several ways. First, contact lenses can absorb moisture from the eyes. This is particularly true for soft contact lenses made from hydrophilic materials. Depending on the design, they can include anywhere between 30%–75% water. The more water a soft contact lens contains, the more susceptible it is to dehydration.

Second, contact lenses can alter the tear film on the surface of the eye. The added fluid from the packaging solution or the care routine dilutes the tears when putting the lens on the eye. Once in place, the contact lens separates the tear film into the pre-lens and post-lens tear film. Compared to a normal tear film, the tear film on the front surface of a soft lens now has a thinner lipid layer, a faster evaporation rate, and less tear production. Due to this, people who wear contact lenses may experience dry eye symptoms.

Finally, contact lenses can cause irritation and inflammation of the eyelids. The lid wiper is the area of the upper eyelid's marginal conjunctiva that cleans the eye's surface or contact lenses while blinking. In 85% of people who wear contact lenses, there is a disturbance to the lid wiper's surface epithelium, known as lid wiper epitheliopathy. According to findings, it is connected to CLD.

Managing Dry Eye Symptoms While Wearing Contact Lenses

If you wear contact lenses and are experiencing dry eye symptoms, there are several steps you can take to manage your symptoms.

Keep It Clean

Ensure that you are cleaning and sterilizing your contact lenses correctly. This can help reduce the risk of irritation and inflammation of the eyelids.

Switch It Up

Consider switching to contact lenses specifically designed for people with dry eye syndrome. These lenses are made from materials that retain more moisture and can help reduce dryness and discomfort.

Add Some Tears

Use lubricating eye drops or artificial tears to help keep your eyes moist while wearing contact lenses. Additionally, be mindful of your environment – air conditioning and heating can contribute to dryness, so consider using a humidifier to increase the moisture in the air.

Take a Break

Take regular breaks from wearing your contact lenses, or consider wearing glasses when possible. Avoid wearing your contact lenses for longer than recommended, and avoid sleeping in your lenses.

While contact lenses can contribute to dry eye syndrome, there are steps you can take to manage or even prevent symptoms.

Contact Lens Discomfort and Dry Eye Syndrome in Murphy and Wylie

If you are wearing contact lenses and experience CLD or any dry eye symptoms, contact Wylie Eye Center & Eye Center of Murphy to request an appointment.

Our practice serves patients from Wylie, Murphy, Lucas, and Allen, Texas and surrounding communities.

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