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eye drops and contact lenses

Contact lenses are a popular option for people requiring prescriptive lenses, but they also elevate the risk of dry eye and general eye irritation. Using the right eye drops, safe for contact lens wearers, is essential to protect the future health of your eyes and vision.

Eye Drops Soothe Contact Lens Irritation

Because contact lenses sit on the eye’s surface, they disrupt the eyes’ natural biochemistry. For example, those with contact lenses are far more prone to developing dry eye or experiencing general eye irritation than those who wear glasses or do not require corrective lenses. Also, contact lenses can exacerbate allergies since they may trap irritants between their surface and the eye.

The right eye drops are the solution, but you must choose wisely.

The Best Eye Drops For Contact Lenses

Speak to your optometrist about which drops they recommend for you. Their recommendations may vary based on your medical history or personal preferences. Not only are most over-the-counter eye drops safe to use with contact lenses, we recommend it. 

Integrating eye drops into your daily routine can prevent the onset of symptoms that create the need for eye drops.

If you’re shopping for eye drops at the local grocery or drug store, actively seek eye drops that:

  • Are labeled specifically for contact lens use.
  • Are preservative-free (preservatives can irritate eyes and don’t always evaporate through the contact lens film the way they would from an unobstructed eye.
  • Are contact lens-safe drops specifically formulated for your symptoms (tired, dry eyes, itchy eyes, or excessive redness).

Buying the wrong eye drops or using someone else’s could expose your eyes to further irritation or – worse – an eye infection.

Make Eye Drops A Part Of Your Daily Routine

We recommend using eye drops:

  • At the first hint of eye irritation (waiting too long makes it harder for eye drops to do their job)
  • During your 20-20-20 breaks from screens or reading.
  • When you stop for a lunch break.
  • Before or just after your daily commute. 
  • Prior to heading to bed.
  • Anytime you’re around smokers or smoke (outdoor fire pits, campfires, or when the air around your home/workplace is smokey).

Instead of purchasing a single bottle of eye drops, we recommend keeping a stash on hand to have easy access when needed. Keep a bottle at your work desk, on the table next to your favorite chair, in the glove compartment, in your purse or backpack, etc.

Using Eye Drops Can Prevent Contact Lens Intolerance

We mentioned using drops at the slightest sign of irritation. You can develop contact lens intolerance over time, and this is the most common for people who don’t address the first stages of eye irritation – such as dry eye, allergies, or scratched eye surfaces. Chronically irritated eyes can lead to a state of hyper-inflammation in the eyes, making it impossible to wear contact lenses.

Eye drops help to prevent eye irritation or full-blown contact lens intolerance.

Contact lenses trap small particulates that can scratch the cornea

Anything from minuscule makeup particles to incoming dust, fluff, pollen, or sawdust can get trapped under the contact lens. This makes it harder for the eyes’ natural flushing system to work effectively. Eye drops provide that extra flush of soothing liquid that moves particulates out from under the surface of the lens where they can’t scratch the surface – or the cornea – of your eye.

Eye drops can stop allergies before they start

The less your skin, respiratory passages, or eyes have direct contact with allergens, the less reaction you’ll have. By using eye drops regularly – especially through allergy season – you help keep the eye clear of allergenic particulates.

Formulated drops treat specific conditions

Most of the time, you’ll only need basic, contact-safe lubricating drops. However, there are times when you’ll want to seek drops formulated for specific circumstances. Feel free to contact your optometrist for recommendations. Our patients typically rely on targeted relief from drops formulated for allergies, dry eye, or strained eyes. 

Always Adhere To Contact Lens Care Instructions

Faithfully observing contact lens care instructions is the primary way to minimize your need for eye drops or to experience contact-related irritation. This includes:

  • Not sleeping with contact lenses (despite what manufacturers may say).
  • Cleaning lenses as instructed.
  • Maintaining routine eye exams to keep prescriptions current (wearing the wrong contact lens prescription.
  • Using the cleaning solutions recommended for your contact.
  • Never share contacts with anyone.
  • Take a break from contacts and wear glasses instead whenever you can to give your eyes time to breathe.
  • Consider wearing glasses instead of contacts when working outside, in a smokey or particulate-heavy environment, around smoke or fire, during peak allergy season (especially if you spend time outdoors), or when eyes are experiencing greater-than-normal irritation.
  • Put in a new pair of contacts if you remove them to flush your eyes or if one falls on the counter or floor at any time. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
  • Keep some extra pairs of contact lenses at work or in your car so you have access if the pair you’re wearing is damaged, lost, or unsanitary.
  • Get plenty of sleep (tired eyes are more prone to irritation, dryness, and strain. These symptoms are all heightened for contact lens wearers.

Never hesitate to contact your optometrist and ask questions if you’re experiencing issues with contact lenses or higher-than-normal levels of eye irritation.

Schedule A Contact Lens Appointment With Atlantic Eye Insitute

Would you like to ensure you’re wearing the right contact lenses for you? Would you like to learn more about which eye drops are best for your contact lenses and symptoms? The team at Atlantic Eye Institute is here to help.

Give us a call in our office at (904) 241-7865 or schedule an appointment, and we’ll make sure you have everything you need to see comfortably again.

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