As a contact lens user, do you often experience dryness in your eyes leading to great discomfort? Here are ways you can alleviate the itchy feeling in your eyes.

As a contact lens user, do you often experience dryness in your eyes? You aren’t alone. Dry eyes is a pervasive and ubiquitous condition experienced by millions of people across the globe and apart from medical reasons, usage of contact lenses is one of the reasons causing it. Contact lens wearers are much more likely to suffer from Dry Eyes than non-wearers1.



As per the definition “Dry eye is a disorder of the tear film due to tear deficiency or excessive tear evaporation which causes damage to the interpalpebral ocular surface and is associated with symptoms of ocular discomfort.” Contact Lens Dry Eye has been a subject of study for the last decade or so and there has been some progress in this field with regards to how to manage this problem and reduce the dropout rate of contact lens usage.

In the article Towards More Comfortable contact lenses, you can read about the main reasons behind contact lens discomfort. Pharmaceutical companies are however continuously trying to improve the experience of wearing contact lenses. The last decade has seen significant progress with the introduction of newer materials and hydrating agents. Some factors that contribute to comfort while wearing lenses include:

Increased water content: 
Hydration is an extremely important factor for the eye. Studies have been found to show that dehydration also disturbs the fit of the lens by altering the lens parameters2. Thankfully, contact lenses with low water content hydrogel have been on a decline as they are known to cause dryness. A dehydrating lens can alter its parameters causing a change in its fit and therefore discomfort to the wearer2. Using contact lenses that aid hydration of the eyes can drastically help in comforting the eye.

Silicone hydrogel lenses: 
These allow greater oxygen transmission and exhibit reduced dehydration. Silicone hydrogels are hydrophilic which is quite similar to that of conventional hydrogel lenses, and continuous wear of these lenses enables the adherence of biocompatible tear film components to the lens surface. But unlike conventional hydrogel lenses, with silicone ones, reduction of water increases oxygen permeability. Silicone hydrogels also allowless protein diposition on the lens surface which may increase wettability and decrease friction, therefore providing a more comfortable wear experience. A lot of clinical studies have been done on the effects of silicone hydrogel lenses which have positive results to that of preventing dry eye by enabling the surpass of oxygen to the eye and allowing hydration3.

Avoid usage under adverse environment:
Wearing contact lenses in surroundings with reduced humidity levels can significantly exacerbate symptoms of dryness1. So in a hot desert-like condition or artificially heated spaces like ones created during winters, reduced humidity levels may cause dryness issues after a while. Avoiding wearing of contact lenses for long periods of time under such conditions can help cut down the risk of dryness.

Using rewetting drops:
Using the right rewetting/hydrating drops is considered the best remedy to combat dryness in the eyes due to contact lenses1. Use of artificial tear drop solutions like Blink Tears Lubricating Eye Drops is one way to reduce dry eye symptoms. This allows users to continue wearing contact lenses for longer periods of time more comfortably4.

Disinfecting Solutions:
All major lens care manufacturers have been modifying their products to include contents that help provide a solution to some extent for dry eyes. Moisturising lubricant components in lens solutions help in keeping the lens moist and hydrated1.

Reducing the wearing time:
Though this is what eye care companies need to fix in order to reduce the drop-out rates, as a user, reducing the contact lens wearing time can be a temporary solution. Dry eyes become an irritant, hampering normal daily activities1.

There have reports showing that contact lens weares are 12 times more likely to show symptoms of dry eye that other people who do not use lens5.ontact lens users ought to get familiar with what their requirements are and what options are available out there that will help them effectively. For this, a thorough examination by an Ophthalmologist is the right way to start off. By getting to know the cause for dryness, which can be unique to every contact lens user, one can choose the ideal solution for the problem.

 

References: 
1Fonn. 2007, Targeting contact lens induced dryness and discomfort: what properties will make lenses more comfortable, Optometry and vision science, 84: 279-285.
22009. Subbaraman, Lakshman, N. What Influences Contact Lens-Related Dry Eye.
3 Brennan NA et al.,2002, A 1-year prospective clinical trial of Balafilcon A (PureVision) silicone-hydrogel contact lenses used on a 30-day continuous wear schedule. Ophthalmology,109: 1172–1177.
4 Robert Monte ́s-Mico ́, Alejandro Cervin ̃ o, Teresa Ferrer-Blasco, Santiago Garcı ́a-La ́zaro, Susana Ortı ́-Navarro. 2010,Optical quality after instillation of eyedrops in dry-eye syndrome, 36: 935–940.
5 Nichols JJ, Sinnott LT.2006 Tear film, contact lens, and patient-related factors associated with contact lens-related dry eye. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci, 47: 1319–1328.

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