A common assumption is that people who have dry eye cannot wear contact lenses. Contact lenses add many potential variables to an already complex condition: the lens material; the design of the lens; how the lenses fit and the products used to care for them can all contribute to discomfort. This is on top of the other factors that contribute to dry eye: age; gender; the presence of other diseases; medicines; environmental factors and decreasing quality of tears. Faced with such a diverse range of causes (and potential solutions) it’s not surprising that about half of all contact lens wearers give up due to eye discomfort. However, thanks to a range of new eye care management protocols, people who wear contact lenses are beginning to find relief from dry eye without having to go back to wearing glasses—at least not all the time.
In 2012, the Tear Film & Ocular Surface Society (TFOS), invited 79 dry eye experts to participate in a workshop to determine an evidence-based approach to managing dry eye and discomfort among contact lens wearers. The full report outlines a series of care management protocols for how to test for and treat dry eye among contact lens wearers. It also calls for more research into products that can reduce discomfort. Even though one of the many recommendations is less time per day wearing contacts, the new protocols offer hope.