October 13, 2023
Dry eyes and contact lens usage are two terms that we encounter regularly in the realm of ocular health. We often hear of people complaining about dry eyes, a condition that is uncomfortable and can interfere with day-to-day activities. Similarly, contact lens usage is a common practice among those who need vision correction but prefer not to wear glasses. But what do these two have in common?
The correlation between contact lens usage and dry eye is a topic that has been the subject of numerous studies. Some research suggests that long-term use of contact lenses can lead to dry eye symptoms.
According to a study published in the Optometry and Vision Science journal, contact lens wearers were almost five times more likely to have dry eyes than non-wearers. Another study in the American Journal of Ophthalmology found that contact lens wearers had a significantly higher prevalence of dry eye symptoms compared to those who didn't wear lenses.
While the direct causation is not yet definitively proven, there are several reasons why contact lenses might contribute to dry eyes. These reasons mainly revolve around how contact lenses interact with the eye's natural tear film, which is responsible for keeping our eyes lubricated.
Firstly, contact lenses may disrupt the stability of the tear film. When a lens is placed on the eye, it can cause the tear film to spread unevenly, leading to areas of dryness. Additionally, the material of the contact lens may attract and absorb the tear film, leading to less available moisture for the eye.
Secondly, contact lenses may limit the amount of oxygen reaching the cornea, leading to discomfort and dryness. Oxygen is vital for maintaining the health of the cornea, and any reduction can cause the eye to feel dry and irritated.
Lastly, contact lenses may lead to inflammation of the eye's surface, which can exacerbate dry eye symptoms. The friction caused by the lens moving on the eye can lead to irritation and inflammation, which can, in turn, impact tear production.
There are several steps you can take to reduce dryness and maintain your eye health.
First, consider switching to contact lenses specifically designed for dry eyes. These lenses are made from materials that retain more moisture and allow more oxygen to reach the cornea. Additionally, you could also consider using daily disposable lenses, which are replaced daily, reducing the chance of lens-related irritation.
Next, make sure you're practicing good lens hygiene. This means cleaning and disinfecting your lenses regularly, as well as replacing them according to your eye care professional's instructions. Poor lens hygiene can lead to eye irritation and dryness.
And finally, consider using eye drops or artificial tears to supplement your eyes' natural moisture. These products can provide temporary relief from dry eye symptoms. However, it's important to consult with your eye care professional before starting any new eye care regimen.
While dry eyes can often be managed with simple measures, there are times when you should consult an eye doctor. If you're experiencing persistent dry eye symptoms, such as redness, burning, or a feeling of something in your eye, it's time to seek professional help.
An optometrist can perform a thorough examination to determine the cause of your dry eyes and recommend the best treatment plan. They can also provide guidance on safe and healthy contact lens usage.
While there may be a potential correlation between contact lens usage and dry eyes, it doesn't mean that you need to stop wearing contacts. Instead, it's about finding a balance that works for you and taking steps to ensure your eyes stay healthy and comfortable.
With the right precautions, such as using the appropriate lenses, practicing good lens hygiene, and seeking professional advice when needed, you can continue to enjoy the benefits of contact lenses without compromising your eye health.
For more information on the correlation between contact lens usage and dry eyes, visit Eye Associates of New York at our office in New York, NY. You can expect to receive the best possible options for your specific eye health and vision needs. Call (212) 650-4888 to schedule an appointment today.