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Best contact lenses for dry eyes.

Best contact lenses for dry eyes

Are contact lenses a good idea for dry eyes?

With the current epidemic of dry eyes, it is no surprise that over 50% of contact lens wearers fail within the first year. This is mainly due to contact lens-related discomfort. Popular disposable lenses are made from soft, water-loving (hydrophilic) materials. But these literally soak up your available tears and can aggravate dry eyes.

So, does that mean that dry eye sufferers must avoid contact lenses entirely?  Not necessarily. Read on for some practical strategies for comfortable contact lens wear if you have dry eyes.

Treat dry eyes first

This might sound obvious but dry eye treatment is often ignored.  Do not just reach for eye drops. All they do is mask the underlying problem and often fail.

Dry eyes in today’s digital world has become an epidemic. Even with all the innovative contact lenses and materials that have been invented in the last 15 years we seem to be fighting a losing battle.  The proper treatment of dry eyes just does not come on the practitioner radar.

Finding a solution to this common problem can be complicated.  It is best managed by an expert optometrist that regularly fits complex contact lenses and is also a dry eye expert.

What are the best contact lens materials?

The latest soft contact lenses (including disposables) are constructed from a silicon core and a soft, outer hydrophilic layer. The inner core doesn’t soak up moisture from your eye, resulting in less loss of tear volume.

Multiple brands provide these innovative materials. Each has slightly different fitting characteristics, so it is often worthwhile trying a different brand even if you have failed in lenses previously.

Talk to your optometrist about what designs and materials will best suit your eyes.

Best contact lens cleaner for dry eyes

The preservatives in contact lens solutions are often the culprit when it comes to irritated eyes.  Unfortunately, dry eyes are much more prone to damage from the harmful chemicals used to preserve your cleaning systems.

Useful strategies include

  • choosing a daily disposable lens that requires no cleaning OR
  • if you have been prescribed a lens design that requires nightly cleaning, then a hydrogen peroxide system (e.g. AOSEPT) is an excellent choice.

If you have dry eyes, avoid anything that is labelled ‘One Step’.  Even if it is claimed to have a preservative that breaks down, it can still be toxic.

These cleaning systems are very harsh on the delicate tissues of the eyes and even more so if you suffer from dry eyes.

Artificial tears for contact lenses

Want to extend your comfortable wearing time? Use a drop of preservative free artificial tears.

We recommend a drop around midday and again in the mid to late afternoon. If you need to use drops more frequently than that, you are probably in the wrong lens.  Or, more commonly, you have not found the right treatment for your underlying dry eye condition.

Scleral contact lenses

At our Dry Eye practice, scleral contact lenses are the ultimate treatment for stubborn, persistent dry eyes.

These large, hard contact lenses vault the cornea (sensitive front surface of the eye).  This means they only bear on the less sensitive white of the eye. They literally seal off the cornea in a protective, moist, lubricating bubble. This physically prevents your tears from evaporating.

They are tricky to fit, and require the skill of an experienced advanced contact lens expert.

Our practice has been dedicated our to advanced contact lenses, including scleral contact lenses, for many years.  For some people it is the only successful treatment for their dry eyes.

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More about contact lenses

Hard contact lenses

Hard contact lenses (also called RGPs) often provide clearer vision than soft lenses.

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