How Contact Lens Wearers Can Avoid Dry Eyes
Dry eyes are the bane of contact lens wearers. They are not nice. They are uncomfortable and they make our eyes look red. Over 3.3 million people in the UK wear contact lenses, according to a study by the Association of Contact Lens Manufacturers in 2009, the last year for which we have data. And every single one of these people is at risk of dry eyes.
Of course, you don't have to wear contact lenses to suffer from dry eyes, but unfortunately for us, contact lenses can cause dry eyes or make the condition worse in people who were already prone to dry eyes. But you don't have to suffer from dry eyes. There are ways to avoid it.
What are Dry Eyes?
Believe me; you'd know if you had them. It can feel like a piece of sand or grit is stuck in your eye. Your eye itches and turns red. Your vision isn't as clear and can be foggy or blurred.
What Causes Dry Eyes?
There are several possible causes of dry eyes in contact lens wearers.
Lack of tears
In a normal, healthy eye, your eye produces tears to keep the eye moist and to help the eye to focus. Every time you blink you spread these tears across the surface of your eye. When you wear a contact lens, this lens covers the iris and can some stop of these tears reaching the iris, thus causing the eyes to dry out.
Wearing lenses for too long
Disposable soft contact lenses contain a large percentage of water, to help them fit better and to help to prevent your eyes from drying out. However, if you wear these lenses for too long, that is, if you wear them for longer than you are advised to do, they will start to dry out. The lenses will then start to absorb water from your tears and again your eyes will dry out.
Infections and Ageing
Eye infections such as keratitis can also cause dry eyes. But they can also be a natural part of growing older. As we age, our eye lids don't necessarily spread the tears around the eyes as effectively as they did when we were younger. Also, in contact lens wearers, over time, the surface of the cornea can get scratched, making it harder for the tears to cover the eye effectively.
How to Avoid Dry Eyes
- Make sure your lenses fit you properly. Always only wear lenses that have been prescribed for you. And make sure you know how to put the lenses in and take them out.
- Clean your contact lenses regularly and properly using the rub soak and rinse method. Always keep your lenses in their case when they are not in your eyes and change your contact lens case regularly. This way you run less of a risk of developing eye infections that can lead to dry eyes.
- If your eyes get dry after a few hours of wearing your lenses, try soaking your contacts in the cleaning solution for five to ten minutes. This should refresh your contacts and enable you to wear them for the rest of the day without any problems.
- Never wear your disposable lenses for longer than the recommended maximum time and never sleep in your lenses, unless you have special night-time lenses such as those produced by Johnson & Johnson or Bausch & Lomb.
- Avoid prolonged exposure to heat or cigarette smoke. These naturally dry out any eyes.
- Think about getting some contact lens rewetting drops. These are handy as a temporary solution to dry eyes. Simply put a drop in your eyes whenever you feel that they are drying out. You can also buy preservative-free eye drops if you have sensitive eyes. Ask your optician to recommend a brand for you.
- If you already suffered from dry eyes before you wore contact lenses, or you find you are regularly suffering from them now, try contact lenses that have been specially designed for people with dry eyes. CooperVision and American Hydron have both made contact lenses for dry eye sufferers.
If none of the above helps, see your optician to rule out any eye infections.
Eye Drops and Other Products for Dry Eyes (www.dry-eyes.co.uk)
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