Symptoms of dry eyes can affect your well-being and quality of vision. Eyelids may swell, eyes may itch, burn or become red. Added to this is the sensation of having a particle or grain of sand in the eye. Often, the eyes are also sensitive to light. Tearing can paradoxically be a sign of dry eyes. 

Causes of dry eyes

Dry eye syndrome is a multifactorial disease of the tears and ocular surface. When the eye is healthy, the lacrimal glands produce a tear film that covers and protects the cornea and iris. In dry eye, this tear film becomes unbalanced.

There are several possible causes of tear film imbalance:

  • Hormonal changes
  • Medication
  • External influences: air conditioning, dry air from heaters, cigarette smoke, windy and dusty environments, or constant work at a screen
  • Specific diseases: Diabetes, thyroid disease, rheumatoid arthritis, autoimmune diseases or allergies
  • Unsuitable contact lenses

By examining the cornea, conjunctiva and other anterior parts of the eye, your optometrist can determine the quality and quantity of tear fluid. 

Contact lenses and dry eyes

Contact lenses are generally placed on a tear film above the cornea and iris. However, if lenses aren't correctly adjusted to your vision and the curvature of your eyes, the tear film will break down, and contact lenses can irritate the surface of your eye. 

Something to help dry eyes and contact lenses

Eye drops, or artificial tears, can relieve a lack of moisture in the short term. But make sure the drops are suitable for your type of contact lenses. Avoid using eye drops with preservatives, as these can further irritate your eyes.

Your optometrist may prescribe an ointment to be applied under the eyelid at bedtime. The ointment restores the tear film overnight. 

If you suffer from dry eyes, you should not wear your contact lenses for long periods. To avoid straining your eyes, use your glasses when working on the computer or watching television. 

Even a whole day without your contact lenses will relax your eyes considerably. Also, be especially careful when cleaning your contact lenses. Clean lenses thoroughly with contact lens solution after each use.

If you suffer from dry eyes, make an appointment with your optometrist to ensure that your contact lenses suit your condition and lifestyle well.