Can Contact Lenses Worsen Dry Eye and MGD Symptoms?

Can Contact Lenses Worsen Dry Eye and MGD Symptoms?

Can Contact Lenses Worsen Dry Eye and MGD Symptoms?

Can Contact Lenses Worsen Dry Eye and MGD Symptoms?

Can Contact Lenses Worsen Dry Eye and MGD Symptoms?

June 13, 2023

Dry eye is a problem affecting people of all ages but is more common among seniors. It is especially prevalent among individuals who wear contact lenses. Patients who use contacts regularly often complain about dry eyes. The symptoms are usually more severe or more noticeable for contact wearers.  


Wearing Contact Lenses


People choose contact lenses for their great vision, convenience, and appearance. They are ideal for those who want to enhance their vision without eyeglasses. Unfortunately, some people who experience dry eyes can find it uncomfortable to wear contacts. 

Contact lenses can exacerbate symptoms and make it difficult to see clearly. A comprehensive eye exam can help determine if you are a good candidate for contact lenses. Consult your eye doctor about the best contact lens design for your individual needs. 


Contact Lenses and Dry Eye


Contact lenses sit directly on the cornea, the front part of the eye that receives oxygen from the air. The lenses can block oxygen from getting to the eyes, causing dryness and irritation. The lenses can also interfere with tear absorption that helps keep the eyes moist, causing contact lens-induced dry eye. 

Manufacturers have worked hard to develop lens designs that allow as much oxygen as possible. However, prolonged wear of the lenses can still be a problem. People with MGD or existing dry eye are more likely to experience problems with contact lenses. 


Symptoms of Lens-Induced Dry Eye


Contact lens wearers experience dry eye symptoms when wearing the lenses for too long or when poorly fitted. The symptoms vary in severity but are usually mild in early stages. They include:

  • Eye fatigue

  • Eye soreness

  • Itchy, sore, or dry eyes

  • Red eyes

  • Stinging eyes

  • Light sensitivity

  • Blurry vision


Treating Contact Lens-induced Dry Eye


If you wear contact lenses and experience dry eye, several options can help relieve the symptoms. These include:

  • Using OTC or prescription eye drops to add moisture to the eyes. 

  • Taking vitamins to improve eye health, making contact lens wear more comfortable.

  • Choosing daily disposable contact lenses to reduce the risk of protein buildup. 

  • Getting high water content lenses that keep the eyes moist for longer. 

  • Choosing silicone hydrogel contact lenses made of highly breathable material. 

  • Wearing scleral lenses. They are large, rigid gas-permeable lenses that cover the cornea.


Avoid Contact Lens-induced Dry Eye


The best way to manage dry eye is to deal with the condition before it happens. Ensure your contact lenses are properly fitted and purchase high-quality contacts. If you are prone to eye dryness, your eye doctor at East Main Vision Clinic can recommend the best lenses. 

Dispose of your contacts as recommended, and ensure you get regular eye exams. Avoid wearing the lenses when you have the flu or cold or when exposed to potential irritants. Try not to wear contact lenses for long periods. 

If you experience dry eye, your eye doctor can assess your eyes to determine the underlying cause. If you suffer from MGD, avoid wearing your contacts for extended periods unless it is unavoidable. Addressing the underlying cause can allow you to wear your contacts without discomfort.

For more on whether contact lenses worsen dry eye and MGD symptoms, call East Main Vision Clinic in Puyallup, Washington at (253) 780-0700 to schedule an appointment today. 

East Main Vision Clinic