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Are My Contact Lenses Causing Dry Eye? By Daniel J Tepper on March 28, 2019

Woman holds contact lens on her finger and in front of her faceMore than 5 million Americans over the age of 50 regularly experience dry eye symptoms. For some patients, contact lenses may be the source of eye irritation. If you wear contacts and regularly experience red or itchy eyes, you may benefit from dry eye treatment at our Chicago, IL practice.

Here, board-certified ophthalmologist Daniel J. Tepper and our team discuss dry eyes and contact lenses.

Common Causes of Dry Eyes

Dry eyes syndrome occurs when patients have insufficient tear production or quality. Red, burning, or itchy eyes result from this condition.

Contact lenses can either cause dry eye symptoms or exacerbate the condition. Contacts can interfere with the eyes’ natural tear film, the thin layer of oil, water, and mucus that lubricates the eye and keeps it moisturized.

Other common causes of dry eyes include: 

  • Aging
  • Recent laser eye surgery
  • Certain medications
  • Damaged or inflamed tear glands
  • High altitude

Tips to Minimize the Drying Effects of Contact Lenses

For occasional dry eye symptoms related to contact use, these tips may be useful.

  • Quit smoking
  • Reduce time watching screens (TV, tablets, or smartphones)
  • Try over-the-counter artificial tears
  • Take omega-3 fatty acid supplements
  • Take frequent breaks to rest your eyes
  • See your optometrist about alternative contact brands
  • Use a humidifier indoors
  • Become aware of how often you blink

If you wear contacts and experience chronically dry eyes, you may need treatments that go beyond these remedies.

Treatments for Dry Eyes Caused by Contact Use

Our doctors and staff take a holistic approach to treating your dry eyes. Rather than prescribing quick fixes, we will take the time to find the underlying source of your issues.

Our clinic employs the use of advanced diagnostic equipment, including the TearLab™ Osmolarity System and LipiView® Ocular Surface Interferometer.

Depending on the nature of your dry eyes, one of our doctors may recommend:

  • Eye drops: Eye drops are often one of the first treatments options because they are low-cost, non-invasive, and highly effective at treating dry eye. We may prescribe medicated drops if over-the-counter products are not sufficient.
  • Blephadex™ Eyelid Wipes:  These wipes are preservative-free and can relieve symptoms of dry and itchy eyes. Patients use the wipes over their closed eyes to remove debris from the eyelids and eyelashes.
  • Unique punctal plugs: Punctal plugs are placed in the tear duct to increase the release of moisture on the surface of your eye. We place comfortable, extended-duration punctal plugs.
  • Using prescription glasses instead of contacts: While this may be an option of last resort if you prefer contacts, but switching to prescription glasses may address your dry eye symptoms.

Contact Us Today

If you believe contacts are causing your eyes to feel dry, you are not alone. Many of our patients report that contact use causes eye irritation. Fortunately, we have several treatment options for dry eyes. Diagnosis and treatment of dry eyes is often covered through vision insurance.

If you are ready to learn how to end your dry eye symptoms, contact our office online or call (773) 376-2020.

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Wicker Park Eye Center

At Wicker Park Eye Center in Chicago, IL, Dr. Daniel J. Tepper, a board-certified ophthalmologist and Parisha Shah, fellowship-trained optometrists, provide patient-centric eye care. Our affiliations include:

  • American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO)
  • American Medical Association (AMA)
  • American Optometric Association (AOA)

To schedule an appointment at our eye clinic, please contact us online or call (773) 376-2020.

Contact Us Today

"I have visited Wicker Eye Park Center a few times, with each visit I have received excellent service. Dr. Tepper is the best ophthalmologist that I have seen in many years. He, like his staff, is also courteous respectful and very professional." Juan B.

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