Dry Eye and Contact Lenses

Dry Eye and Contact Lenses

In practice dry eye is extremely common

There are a host of reasons why people have the daily discomfort from dry eyes, ranging from one’s overall health, some of the rheumatic diseases, certain medications, hormonal changes and of course the environment.

A recent study has highlighted a somewhat obvious point in that wearing contact lenses in an office environment and spending more than 4 hours at a visual display terminal may result in lower tear meniscus volume with significant dry eye.

Generally people tend to be engrossed in what they are working on, stare at their screens and blink less frequently. The eye’s tear film evaporates as one would expect, prior to the next blink, and soon the cornea gets irritated. Typically the contact lens will get cloudy due to their now dehydrated state.

One study which included a case-controlled analysis, examined 69 contact lens wearers — 45 women and 24 men, mean age 35 years — and as a comparison 102 non-wearers matched for sex and age — 66 women and 36 men, mean age 36years — from the same office.

The study determined contact lens wearers and long-term visual display terminal workers had significantly worse tear meniscus height values than those who did not wear contact lenses or worked for shorter periods on visual display terminals. The type of lenses worn had no discernible effect on the mean total dry eye severity scores. which is an important point as many patients feel a change of lens types will cure their issue.

Generally I advise patients to monitor the time spent on their computers and if comfortable with their glasses, to use these for office work generally.

So what to do?

Consider altering your working habits if you are determined to wear contact lenses at work. reduce the time on task, drink lots of water, try and remember blinking keeps the eyes happy and the contact lenses replenished.

The thinner the contact lenses and the greater the water content of the contact lens will greatly improve your success in wearing contact lenses at work

The typical reaction or feedback from patients is they need, due to the dry eyes sensation, to remove their contact lenses a little earlier each day over a period of months. Some will use eye drops to limp through their day and this certainly helps, ensure these drops are preservative free drops to prevent a toxic reaction to the preservative itself if this is what you do.

Using a lubricant at night time prior to going to sleep is also a good idea, e.g. Hylo-Night ointment from Scope or ThealozDuo gel tears from Thea are both effective to hydrate and repair the cornea overnight leaving an oil based coating on the cornea, to protect and keep hydrated for some of the following day.

You might be familiar with the 20/20/20 rule which is ofter quoted for all computer users struggling with dry eyes, every 20 minutes, look 20 feet away, for 20 seconds. Difficult in a busy day but the theory is the blink rate will be improved and your effort to stay focused at near gets a break.

To summarise and conclude, in practice we encourage patients to wear contact lenses to work only days where their continuous use of computers is minimal, days perhaps where there are a lot of meetings scheduled etc. If you are on screens all day consider only wearing your contact lenses at weekends and evenings for successful hassle free wear.

Hydrate with preservative free eye drops as a general rule if you are prone to dry eyes. Remember also what you ingest contributes to you tear quality and production e.g. coffee acts as a stimulant and will reduce your tear production due to it’s dehydrating effect, as does a glass or 2 or 3 of wine in the late evening.

Perhaps the contact lens of choice to best cope with a dry eye contact lens wearer is Alcon’s Dailies Total 1

This lens has a very high (DK) water content value as well as being a very thin lens thus lessening the distance oxygen need to travel through the lens to meet the cornea.

Another easy but useful remedy is apply a heat pack to the closed eye at night while relaxing, this dilates the oil producing glands in your lids and self hydrates and lubricates the eye.

Happy to help with any specific issues with lens wear and dry eye. email info@opticalrooms.com