Dry Eyes and Contact Lenses: Finding a Comfortable Match

March 22, 2024

Categories:

How many of you have wondered if you’ll ever find contact lenses that don’t make your eyes feel as dry as WA’s Great Sandy Desert?

You might be surprised to discover that a whole world of contact lenses exists, specifically designed for those of us battling dry eyes.

My name is Damon Ezekiel, and as the owner of Ezekiel Eyes, I represent the third generation optometrists in my family to serve our Perth community. With a legacy that stretches back decades, I’ve dedicated my life to ensuring that issues like dry eyes don’t keep anyone from experiencing the freedom that comes from perfect vision without the need for glasses.

Dry eyes and contact lenses often seem like they’re at odds with each other, but let me tell you, that doesn’t have to be the case. With the correct type of lenses, your dry eye woes can become a thing of the past, allowing you to enjoy every moment with clarity and comfort. There’s absolutely no reason to continue your struggle with contact lenses that feel uncomfortable or even painful. Life is too short not to see it clearly and comfortably.

Take for example, a patient of mine, an airline flight attendant, who came to me after nearly giving up on contacts due to her dry eyes. She had tried what seemed like every type of lens on the market but still ended the day with irritation and discomfort. By carefully selecting a pair of contact lenses specifically designed for people with dry eyes, this patient now spends her days with such comfort that she barely remembers she’s wearing lenses at all.

If my story resonates with you, I encourage you not to lose hope. Whether it’s myself, or my fellow optometrist Rhiannon Richer whom you speak with, we’re here to guide you through the myriad of options available. From specialized lenses that maintain moisture to innovative designs that allow your eyes to breathe more easily, there’s a solution waiting for you.

If you’re curious about the possibilities and eager to explore the range of contact lens options that could transform your experience, then I invite you to make an appointment with us at Ezekiel Eyes.

So, keep reading if you’d like to learn more about the contact lens options available for dry eye sufferers.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • Silicone hydrogel lenses are a top choice for dry eye sufferers due to their high oxygen permeability and moisture retention, offering enhanced comfort and reduced risk of irritation.
  • Daily disposable lenses eliminate the need for cleaning and minimize deposit buildup, providing a fresh, comfortable lens experience every day, especially beneficial for those with dry eyes.
  • Scleral lenses provide relief for severe dry eye conditions by creating a tear-filled reservoir between the contact lens and cornea, maintaining ocular hydration and improving overall eye comfort.

 

Understanding Dry Eye Syndrome and Contact Lens Use

Why do some of us find ourselves reaching for eye drops more often than our smartphones? Dry Eye Syndrome (DES) is a common conundrum where your eyes either don’t make enough tears or the tears are of poor quality. It’s like to having a well that’s running dry; no matter how much you try to draw water, there’s just not enough to go around. This condition can lead to irritation, redness, and a gritty sensation in the eyes.

Despite the leaps and bounds in contact lens technology, aiming to make them as comfortable as an old pair of sneakers, there’s a significant dropout rate among wearers. Recent studies paint a stark picture: up to half of contact lens users throw in the towel within three years, citing discomfort as their primary grievance.

And at the heart of this issue? You guessed it—dry eyes. It’s a vicious cycle; you seek the freedom from glasses that contact lenses provide, only to be betrayed by the discomfort they can exacerbate in dry eyes.

Understanding the relationship between dry eye disease and contact lenses is crucial. You don’t need to steer clear of contact lenses altogether but instead find the right kind that works with your condition, not against it.

 

 

Dry eyes and comfortable contacts

 

Types of Contact Lenses Suitable for Dry Eyes

Finding the right contact lenses for dry eyes might seem challenging, but new advancements in lens technology offer several promising options. Let’s discuss some of the choices.

Silicone hydrogel lenses are renowned for their superior oxygen permeability, which is crucial for maintaining eye health. These lenses are designed to let a large amount of oxygen pass through to the cornea, reducing the risk of dryness and irritation commonly experienced with traditional soft lenses. The high oxygen flow supports healthier eyes, as it prevents hypoxia (a condition where the eye receives insufficient oxygen), which can lead to complications like corneal swelling, red eyes, and discomfort.

Several leading brands have developed advanced silicone hydrogel lenses to cater to a wide range of prescriptions and wearer needs. For example notable brand is Air Optix from Alcon, which offers a line of silicone hydrogel lenses including Air Optix Aqua and Air Optix Night & Day Aqua, known for their high oxygen permeability and suitability for extended wear. CooperVision’s Biofinity range also stands out, utilizing Aquaform Technology to bind water within the lens, ensuring both high oxygen permeability and optimal comfort.

By choosing silicone hydrogel lenses from these brands, wearers can enjoy the benefits of enhanced oxygen supply to their eyes, significantly reducing the discomfort associated with lens wear and maintaining better overall eye health.

Daily disposable lenses represent the ultimate in convenience and eye health, particularly because they eliminate the need for a daily cleaning routine. Each morning starts with a fresh pair, significantly reducing the risk of deposit build-up on the lenses. Deposits can attract bacteria and cause irritation, contributing to dry eye symptoms and discomfort. With daily disposables, wearers enjoy a clean, comfortable lens experience every day, which is especially beneficial for those prone to eye infections or with busy lifestyles.

Several brands lead the market in daily disposable contact lenses, offering options for a range of vision correction needs and preferences.

By opting for daily disposable lenses from these brands, users can enjoy the health benefits of starting with a clean, new lens every day, along with the convenience of not having to deal with lens cleaning solutions, preservatives and storage cases, thus ensuring optimal eye health and comfort.

Low water content lenses can be particularly beneficial for individuals suffering from dry eyes. Unlike high water content lenses, which can absorb moisture from the eye and exacerbate dryness, low water content lenses minimize this effect. By drawing less moisture away from the eye, these lenses help to maintain the eye’s natural moisture levels, reducing the risk of irritation and providing enhanced comfort for those prone to dry eye symptoms.

By choosing low water content lenses, individuals with dry eyes can enjoy a more comfortable wearing experience, as these lenses are specifically designed to minimize moisture loss and maintain the eye’s natural hydration levels.

Scleral lenses are highly beneficial for individuals with severe dry eye conditions due to their distinctive design. These lenses are larger than standard contact lenses and extend over the entire corneal surface to rest on the white part of the eye, known as the sclera. This design helps to retain moisture on the surface of the eye by forming a tear-filled reservoir between the lens and the cornea. This reservoir can significantly alleviate dry eye symptoms by keeping the eye’s surface lubricated and protected from external irritants.

They are particularly suited for managing severe dry eye syndrome by maintaining a hydrating barrier against the external environment.

Scleral lenses from these brands offer a viable solution for individuals suffering from severe dry eye, as they help to maintain ocular hydration and protect the eyes from external factors that can exacerbate dryness and discomfort.

Living with contact lenses and dry eyes is more manageable than it may initially appear. Consulting with an optometrist can help pinpoint the exact type of lens that’s right for you, ensuring your eyes remain comfortable and your vision clear.

Conclusion

Why is choosing the right contact lenses so crucial for your eye health and comfort? It’s because every eye is unique, and finding the perfect fit is key to ensuring long-term comfort and maintaining optimal eye health. At Ezekiel Eyes, we prioritize helping you make an informed decision about your contact lenses, taking into account your lifestyle, eye health, and personal preferences.

If you’re considering contact lenses or looking for a better fit, we invite you to book a consultation with our team at Ezekiel Eyes. This is your opportunity to discuss your condition with us and explore the best contact lens options tailored to your needs.

Making an appointment is easy; you can call us directly at (08) 9386 3620 or use the “Book an Appointment” feature on our website.

optometrist-damon-ezekiel

In addition to owning and managing Ezekiel Eyes, Damon is a contact lens consultant to various research organisations. He regularly lectures and conducts workshops in contact lens practice throughout Australia, Asia and the United States. Damon graduated from the University of NSW with a Bachelor of Optometry in 1989. He is now married with two children and enjoys running, hockey, swimming, piano, travelling and trekking.

Damon’s professional associations include:
President of the International Society of Contact Lens Specialists
Practising Fellow of the Scleral Lens Education Society
Fellow of the Cornea & Contact Lens Society of Australia
Fellow of the American Academy of Optometry
Member of Optometry Australia
Member of the Orthokeratology Society of Australia
Member of Alcon Australia advisory panel