Your contact lenses may be causing your dry eyes

Why contact lenses cause dry eyes and what to do about it



S.A.C. Dip (Diet, Exercise & Fitness), Advanced Human Anatomy & Physiology Level 3
@ActiveLouise
Ask our Eye Health Advisor


21 January 2021

What are the symptoms of dry eyes?

The eye is truly amazing. It is the second most complex organ, next to the brain. Even some of the most advanced cameras in the world still cannot process the rapid changes of distance and the range of colours that the human eye can. However, eye problems are very common and dry eyes, in particular, are a big issue. This occurs when the tear duct cannot produce enough tears.

Symptoms of dry eyes include:

  • Feeling as though there is a foreign object in the eye

  • A gritty feeling across the eye

  • Itchy eyes

  • A burning sensation in the eyes

  • Red, bloodshot eyes

  • Dry eyes in the morning

Can contact lenses cause dry eyes?

If your eyes do not get a break from wearing contact lenses, you run the risk of developing Dry Eye Syndrome. This is when tears evaporate too quickly or not enough tears are produced in the first place thus resulting in dry eye symptoms.

Although some contact lens wearers may be prone to watery eyes, this too could be an indication that the eyes are dry. This is because some irritants, including the likes of pollen and dust, can gather on the underside of the lens. This triggers a reflex action in the tear glands causing them to release watery tears that are different from the usual tear film

That being said, it's important to note that watery eyes in contact wearers may also be a sign that the eye is reacting badly to the brand of lens. Therefore, you may want to speak to your optician about trying out another brand if this is the case.

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What else causes dry eyes?

Contact lenses are not the only cause of dry eyes. In fact, there are many factors that could lead to this issue.

Menopause

Hormonal changes may also explain why your eyes are drier whilst wearing contact lenses.

Menopausal women have a greater tendency to suffer from dry eyes as falling levels of oestrogen means that all the membranes in the body potentially become thinner and drier. This is why you may also notice that your skin is a little drier at this time.

Taking a supplement of Omega-7 Essential Fatty Acids helps some women, as does Hyaluronic acid. If dryness is accompanied by other menopausal symptoms, then the herbal remedy Menopause Support may help.

If you are going through these hormonal changes, it is important not to irritate the eyes further. Therefore, speak to your optician about what types of lenses would be more suited to your eye type. It's also sensible to check with your doctor, as dry eyes can be a symptom of immune problems.

Smoking

Smoking harms nearly every organ in your body – including the eyes.
Research has indicated that smoking can increase the risk of dry eyes and can potentially worsen dry eye conditions.2 This is because tobacco smoke is a known eye irritant. There is also a high risk of developing dry eyes from second-hand smoke.

Screen time

Most of us spend the majority of the day looking at some type of monitor, be it a computer screen, a T.V. or a mobile phone. Throughout the day, this causes dryness and irritation to the eyes, especially for contact lens wearers. This is because we blink less when focusing on digital screens which can result in dryness.

I suggest taking regular breaks from the computer and limit the amount of time you spend looking at your smartphone. Contact lens wearers are much more susceptible to dry eyes and, therefore, should rest their eyes more when dealing with electronics in order to limit the painful symptoms of dry eyes.


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How do you fix dry eyes?

Using eye drops can really help to relieve the symptoms of dry eyes, especially for contact lens wearers.

A.Vogel Eye Drops provide rapid, long-lasting moisturisation and refreshment to help soothe and maintain lubrication of the eye. The best part about these drops is that they can be used whilst wearing contact lenses!

To support your eyes further, aim to eat more antioxidant-rich fruits to help replenish and strengthen the eyes. This includes berries, oranges, watermelon, cranberries and much more!

Blueberries and blackcurrants also have lots of vitamin C which is essential for maintaining good eye health as it helps to strengthen blood vessels and improves blood flow to the eyes. Alternatively, you may wish to try a vitamin C supplement such as A.Vogel Nature C tablets. These only use fresh ingredients that are naturally rich in vitamin C.

Dry eyes also will also benefit from an increase in omega-3 fatty acids. Our bodies cannot produce these fatty oils on their own so they need to be consumed in our diet through foods like oily fish, nuts and seeds and plant oils.

Follow the link to learn more about the good foods to eat for eye health.

References

1 https://euromcontact.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/Tables-Publication-Report-2018.pdf 

2 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5075666/

 

Originally published 25 December 2015 (updated 21 January 2021)

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