Dry eyes can be a significant discomfort for contact lens wearers, often leading to irritation, redness, and a burning sensation. This common issue can detract from the convenience and benefits of wearing contacts. However, with the right strategies and practices, it’s possible to minimize dry eye symptoms and enjoy comfortable lens wear. This article provides practical tips on how to avoid dry eyes while using contact lenses.
Selecting the right type of contact lenses is crucial in preventing dry eyes. Brands like Biofinity and Acuvue contacts have developed specialized lenses that retain moisture and allow more oxygen to reach the eye. Other brands also offer similar products with features aimed at reducing dryness. For instance, some lenses are made with hydrogel or silicone hydrogel materials that are designed to maintain hydration. Additionally, daily disposable lenses can be a good choice as they reduce the likelihood of deposit buildup, which can contribute to dry eyes.
Stay Hydrated and Mind Your Environment
Keeping your body well-hydrated is essential for maintaining eye moisture. Drinking plenty of water throughout the day helps, as dehydration can exacerbate dry eye symptoms. Additionally, be mindful of your environment. Air-conditioned or heated indoor environments can dry out your eyes. Using a humidifier can add moisture to the air and help reduce eye dryness. Also, when outdoors, wearing sunglasses can protect your eyes from drying winds and reduce evaporation of tears.
Follow Proper Lens Care and Hygiene
Proper lens care is vital in preventing dry eyes. Always wash your hands before handling your lenses to avoid transferring dirt and germs to your eyes. Clean and store your lenses as recommended by the manufacturer and your eye care professional. Protein and lipid deposits on the lens surface can contribute to dryness and discomfort, so regular cleaning is essential. Additionally, replace your lens case regularly to prevent bacterial growth.
Use Eye Drops or Artificial Tears
Using eye drops or artificial tears can provide immediate relief from dry eyes. These products are designed to lubricate the eyes and mimic natural tears. It’s important to choose drops that are specifically formulated for use with contact lenses. Consult with your eye care professional to recommend a brand that’s compatible with your lenses and addresses your specific needs.
Take Breaks and Blink Regularly
Taking regular breaks from lens wear can give your eyes a chance to rest and rehydrate. If you spend long hours in front of a computer screen, follow the 20-20-20 rule: every 20 minutes, look at something 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds. Also, make a conscious effort to blink regularly. Blinking helps spread tears evenly across the surface of your eyes, keeping them moist.
Consider Lens Material and Replacement Schedule
The material of your contact lenses can impact how they affect your eyes. Silicone hydrogel lenses, for example, are designed to allow more oxygen to pass through to the cornea, which can help reduce dryness. Additionally, consider your lens replacement schedule. Frequent replacement or daily disposable lenses can decrease the likelihood of lens-related dryness.
Consult with Your Eye Care Professional
Regular check-ups with your eye care professional are crucial. They can assess whether your contact lenses are the right fit and type for your eyes and can suggest alternatives if necessary. They can also check for any underlying conditions that might be contributing to dryness and provide appropriate treatment or advice.
Manage Screen Time and Lighting
Extended screen time can lead to reduced blinking, which in turn can cause or worsen dry eyes. Be conscious of how much time you spend staring at screens and take regular breaks. Additionally, ensure that your work and home environments are well-lit to reduce eye strain.
Diet and Nutrition
Your diet can also play a role in eye health. Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, like fish, flaxseed, and walnuts, can help improve tear quality. A balanced diet with plenty of vitamins and minerals supports overall eye health and can help alleviate dry eye symptoms.
Dealing with dry eyes as a contact lens wearer can be challenging, but it’s not insurmountable. By choosing the right type of lenses, maintaining proper eye care and hygiene, using lubricating drops, and making lifestyle adjustments, you can significantly reduce dryness and discomfort. Remember, regular consultations with your eye care professional are essential to ensure that your contact lens experience is as comfortable and healthy as possible.