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Dry Eyes and Contact Lenses: Prevention and Treatment Options

Image of eye glasses
You have dry eyes. Does that mean you can't wear contact lenses? Of course not. Long gone are the days when the only options that contact wearers had were to use rigid, uncomfortable lenses. With plenty of choices out there, it's possible to find lenses that don't make your eyes feel even worse than they already do. Beyond that, you can continue to wear contacts even if your eyes feel dry often.
What do you need to know about wearing contacts with dry eyes? Start smart and prevent dry eyes before they become a problem for you and your contact lenses. If you can't seem to get ahold of your dryness, take a look at what you can do to stop the problem before it begins, and keep your contacts feeling comfortable.

Dry Eye Basics

What causes dry eye? It's a condition that happens when you don't have enough tears to fully lubricate your eyes. This doesn't necessarily mean you can't cry or that you never shed a tear. Instead, you just don't have enough lubrication to nourish your eyes regularly.
Some people with dry eye do have tears, but they aren't good enough quality to adequately keep your eyes moist. Poor quality tears evaporate from the surface of the eye before they have a chance to fully lubricate it or spread across your eye completely.
Tears are important because they keep your eyes comfortable, help get rid of debris and make the eye's surface smooth. When there aren't enough tears, or you don't have quality tears, your eyes struggle to do some or all of these things.

Contacts and Dry Eyes

With so many types of contacts available, you have to choose which set of contacts will be best for you. When it comes down to the two major categories, soft or rigid/hard contacts, going with the soft option is best. These contacts allow your eyes to retain water — at least, they let your eyes hold in water better than hard contacts do.
Some brands of contact lenses have higher moisture content than others. These are specially formulated to stay moist longer than other lenses might.

Keeping Your Eyes Comfortable

The objective for dry eye contact lens wearers is to keep their eyes comfortable. Chances are that you may have already been doing something to prevent dry eyes before you started wearing contacts. That said, some people don't experience the truly uncomfortable feeling of dry eyes until they begin wearing contacts. Keep in mind, contact lenses may not always cause the dry eye, but they can exaggerate it or add to the irritation.
For some lens wearers, stopping the cause of dry eye is enough to make their contacts feel more comfortable. There are a variety of dry eye causes, some of which you can 'fix'. Medications such as decongestants and antihistamines dry you out. While this is an advantage if you're trying to keep sniffles or a cold at bay, it isn't the best option if your eyes feel dry. If you have a temporary case of dry eye due to medication use, and the doctor okays mixing the pills, you can easily clear up your dry eye and go on to wear your contacts comfortably. Environmental conditions are other issues that you may be able to change or fix. If your dry eyes are caused by something in your space, changing your environment will eliminate the dry eye.

Prevention Tips and Remedies

Try your best to avoid extra irritants. Sometimes build-up on your lenses can add to the dry feeling. Daily disposable lenses help to keep your contacts fresh and free from debris or allergens.
Another way to prevent dry eye is to maintain a healthy, and hydrated, diet. Foods that are high in omega-3 fatty acids (such as fish) may improve your tear quality and reduce dryness.
Along with preventing dry eye, your eye care professional can help you to treat it with artificial tears. These can ease the irritation and replace what your eyes naturally need.
Are you considering contacts? St. Pierre Eye Care.