Contact lenses are clearly more practical than glasses – especially for sport, going out or when it is raining. But contact lenses are only suitable to a limited extent for people with dry eyes, as they also irritate the already affected cornea. In this case, it would make sense to use more eye lubricant. What you should look for when buying eye drops if you wear contact lenses.
Which contact lenses are suitable for dry eyes?
Contact lenses with a precisely fitted base curve (curvature), the smallest possible diameter and good permeable material which allows enough oxygen to the cornea are ideal for people with dry eyes. There are now even soft contact lenses which are tailor-made for the requirements of dry eyes. These are lenses made from silicone and hydrogel. Hydrogel lenses were developed for particularly dry eyes, as they contain a reservoir with hyaluronan, which releases small amounts onto the eyes with every blink.
The tear film, which normally completely lubricates the eye, is disrupted by wearing contact lenses. They can cause a marked decrease in the stability of the tear film and encourage its evaporation. In some cases, this even triggers problems with healthy eyes. For people who already suffer from dry eyes, this can increase symptoms such as itching or burning many times over. Good advice from an eye doctor or a contact lens specialist with regard to the choice of suitable contact lenses is essential. Avoid ordering any contact lenses on the Internet – precise and individual fitting by an expert plays an important role.
Which eye drops are suitable for use with contact lenses?
People who suffer from dry eyes but who do not want to forego wearing contact lenses should use eye drops as a supplement in order to stabilise the disrupted tear film. However, it is important to get comprehensive advice on which preparation is right for you:
With soft contact lenses, you should pay attention to the following:
- Only use eye drops which are preservative-free. Aqueous material in soft contact lenses absorbs the potentially harmful additives like a sponge, which can lead to localised build up with possible damage to the cornea.
- Particularly recommendable are preservative- and phosphate-free lubricating eye drops with hyaluronan, such as HYLO COMOD®.
- Hyaluronan is an endogenous lubricant which can bind a lot of water and stabilises the tear film despite contact lenses. The products in the HYLO EYE CARE® range can, with the exception of HYLO Dual Intense®, be dropped directly onto the contact-wearing eye.
- During the day, it is better to use eye drops when wearing contact lenses, and at night time to nurse the eye with special ointments (after removing the contact lenses). VitA POS® eye ointment supports the tear film during the night with vitamin A. The next morning, you can wear your lenses again as usual.
6 tips for contact lens wearers with dry eyes
Dry eyes are one problem with which contact lens wearers often have to battle. If an infection in the eye is added to this, it can be very unpleasant for the afflicted. Soft contact lenses in particular are prone to harbour germs. The following tips can help you to avoid this:
- You should thoroughly wash your hands with soap before you put the contact lenses in or remove them.
- The wearing time recommended by the manufacturer should not be exceeded. The longer the wearing time, the more stress there is for the eyes and the greater the build up of deposits on the contact lenses.
- The contact lenses should be cleaned after wearing them in order to remove deposits. Following that, leave them to soak in it for several hours. Remember to replace the storage container every four weeks. Pathogens also collect here, which can cause an eye infection.
- Additionally, a protein remover (loosens particularly stubborn deposits) can be used once a week. In this case, it is really important to rinse the lenses well before placing them in your eyes. It is easier to use multi-purpose solutions, which combine cleaning solution and protein remover in one.
- Contact lenses should never be rinsed with water alone. This will not remove deposits and possible pathogens.
What can happen if I do not use eye drops?
For many contact lens wearers constant lubrication can be annoying, but anyone who suffers from dry eyes and does not want to forego using contact lenses should definitely make sure that their eyes are well lubricated. Because when the eye is more and more irritated and does not get sufficient protection through lacrimal fluid, it becomes more prone to infections, such as conjunctivitis, corneal inflammation or eyelid margin inflammation.
The latter can even become chronic. The cornea and the conjunctiva can also be damaged permanently as the result of an infection. Because the contact lenses are worn directly on the eye and can transmit bacteria there is a serious risk of eye disease, which can be reduced by lubricating eye drops.
People with dry eyes who still want to wear contact lenses should take comprehensive advice from an eye doctor or contact lens specialist with regard to two things: the type of contact lens and the composition of the lubricating eye drops.
As a general rule: lenses which are permeable to oxygen are best suited for people with dry eyes. If you wear soft contact lenses, you should make sure that your eye drops do not contain preservatives or phosphates and contain hyaluronan.