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Some people need contact lenses from to see clearly while some wear them for purely aesthetic reasons. But regardless if you have a 20-20 version or not, there are bound to have discomfort when you wear contact lenses. And one of which is dry eye.

What is dry eye?

This is a condition when your body doesn’t produce enough tears to help lubricate the eye to keep it healthy. Tears are much more important to our health than we think, as the tears help lubricate the cornea, nourish the eyes, and help remove unwanted dirt to make our vision much clearer.

 It has been found that older people tend to develop dry eyes more than other ages, and it is more common in women than in men. Medical conditions can cause dry eyes, but they can also be of our own making, such as spending long periods on the computer without blinking can cause dry eyes.

What are the symptoms of dry eyes?

Some of the symptoms you may experience with dry eyes are a burning sensation in the eye as well as redness. You may also experience a grit-like feeling in the eye, possibly from any dirt buildup. Any sign of stringy mucus surrounding the eyes is an indication of dry eyes and possibly an infection. This sensitivity and pain can disturb your vision dramatically and even cause blurred vision, creating difficulty with night driving. 

These symptoms would prevent you from wearing contact lenses as you would not want any more discomfort in your eye; however, some contact lenses help with this as they help maintain hydration of the eye.

Can contact lenses cause dry eyes?

It is not rare for contact lens users to experience dryness and irritation, especially if the contacts have been in for a long time. It is extremely common as most wearers tend to stop using contact lenses due to their dry eyes. This occurs because the level of oxygen is limited due to the lens, and so a high volume of tears cannot be made. However, as stated earlier, there have been some contact lenses made of silicone hydrogel, which help hydrate the eyes as they allow a high volume of oxygen intake.

What is eye discharge?

This occurs when there is an infection in the eye which can be caused by wearing contact lenses. When handled properly, contact lenses are very safe and healthy for the eyes. However, if a person is unhygienic when handling contact lenses, it can lead to germs and bacteria spreading in the eye. 

Also, sleeping with your contact lenses on, wearing them on for a longer time, or even reusing them can cause this infection as the eye is deprived of sufficient oxygen. It is not the contact lens itself causing the discharge; this is simply produced by the eye, and so if you do experience any symptoms of an infection, you should go to a doctor straight away. 

Signs of an eye infection may include irritation, redness, and puss, which are pretty easy to spot and should not be left as you should seek medical attention as soon as possible to prevent the infection from worsening.

Can you still use eye drops if you have contacts in?

If you are suffering from dry eyes, you must get prescribed eye drops as they will allow you to keep wearing your contact lenses whilst helping to get rid of your irritation. You mustn’t just purchase any eye drops. Make sure to contact a professional contact lens practitioner, as everyone’s eyes are different and need different treatment. 

One type of eye drop for people with contact lenses is cyclosporine which increases tear production, helping to improve dry eyes effectively. However, these eye drops do take around 3 to 6 months before you begin to see improvements, and the solution has to be put in whilst the contact lenses are out of the eye. 

Alrex eye drops are a stronger solution of steroid medication that improves dry eyes, but they are not usually prescribed by professionals as they tend to have steroid-like side effects. Rewetting drops are another common eye drop solution that helps prevent dryness and create as much comfort for contact lens wearers as possible. These types of drops need to be put in very frequently compared to other eye drops, at least once every one to two hours throughout the day, and it is crucial you stay on top of this as forgetting to put them in can lead to dry eye developing again.

Contact lenses recommended for dry eyes

The most popular type of contact lens for dry eyes is the toric lens which is made with silicone hydrogel, allowing the eyes to take in oxygen as well as breath and keep the eyes lubricated throughout the day, so they don’t get dry and uncomfortable. Most brands offer toric lenses.

Other contact lenses for dry eyes include opsys, vitrea, and multi-focal. These all help the eyes retain the moisture and oxygen they need to avoid them drying up.

How to look after your contact lenses

Contact lens aftercare is extremely important, especially if you suffer from dry eyes. Firstly, the most crucial step to caring for your contact lenses is making sure you always have good hygiene by washing your hands before and after touching the lens to ensure no germs or bacteria are spread into the eye, keeping it sanitary and healthy. To maintain this hygiene, you should also ensure to use contact lens solution every day to keep them clean and never reuse contact lenses as this can pass germs. 

Another important rule that all contact lens wearers should know by now is to not sleep with your contact lenses in, as not only can this damage your eye but also dry it up. It is also recommended that you go contact free for a few hours every day to give your eyes a break and let them take in oxygen, so they don’t get too dry.