Contact Lens-Induced Dry Eye: Are Prescription Glasses the Answer?

The main reason people stop wearing contacts is dry eye. In fact, dry eye is so common among those with contacts, that the problem has its own name: contact lens-induced dry eye (CLIDE). As the name suggests, dry eye occurs when the eyes don’t make sufficient tears and produce feelings of dryness, stinging, burning, itchiness, watering, and blurry vision.

The causes of CLIDE could be the contacts, environmental conditions, reduced blink rate, and physiological problems. If you wear contacts and suffer from CLIDE symptoms, see your doctor.

Common Causes of Contact Lens-Induced Dry Eye

The Contacts

According to MedicineNet, a good fitting contact lens floats on a film of tear fluid. Blinking should replace this film with new fluid. This may not happen if there is a problem with the contact’s fit, such as a problem with its diameter or curvature. Its material could also cause the problem. The exact interaction between contacts and the eye’s tear film is complex, which is why only your doctor can get to the bottom of this if the contact is causing the problem.

Environmental Conditions

The simplest cause occurs when the environment dries out the eye’s surface. Wind and dry air combine to accelerate moisture evaporation from the eyes. This happens in hot, dry climates as well as in the winter when the air is cold. Cold air holds less moisture, which is why chapped hands and lips are a problem during this season. Wind also accelerates evaporation. If you ride a motorcycle, consider getting goggles. It’s also possible to get dry eye in hot humid weather if your air conditioner dehumidifies the air too much.

Reduced Blink Rate

Activity requiring prolonged focus such as reading reduces your blink rate. The same phenomenon occurs when using devices with digital screens such as computers, tablets, and televisions. When reading or using digital screens, it’s important to take frequent rests to avoid dry eye and eyestrain. Use the 20/20/20 rule for taking breaks. That is, look at something at least 20 feet away for 20 seconds every 20 minutes. When doing this, mentally relax and allow your eyes to blink.

Physiological Problems

This is a big category, which includes the medications you’re taking, allergies, hormonal imbalances, age, diet, and disease. Again, only your doctor can ascertain any physiological causes.

Getting Relief from Contact Lens-Induced Dry Eye

Depending on what is causing your dry eye condition, you may find that taking a break from your contacts will relieve your symptoms. A contact lens is a foreign object that alters the eye’s surface. This will likely worsen your dry eye symptoms rather than improve them. Remove your contacts for a while and note any changes in your symptoms.

You might try getting a pair of prescription glasses so that you don’t have to stop what you’re doing during your breaks. You may find that using prescription eyeglasses provides greater comfort for some activities such as reading, using a computer, and studying.

When getting glasses, be careful not to use drugstore glasses. These don’t provide vision correction specifically for your eyes. They are a “rough fit” and may cause eyestrain with prolonged use.

See your eye doctor and get your exact prescription. If you don’t want to spend too much, you can try a pair of modestly priced glasses with standard CR-39 plastic lenses. If this solves your problem, and you’ve consulted with your doctor, then try switching permanently to a better pair of prescription glasses. Alternatively, you can work with your doctor to find a solution that allows you to continue using contacts.

You may find that a hybrid solution works best, where glasses work well for some situations and contacts are appropriate for others. If you wish to view our Nike prescription glasses selection and have questions, don’t hesitate to contact us.

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