Eye Health

Updated 16 January 2015

I have dry eyes - can I wear contact lenses?

Dry eye is a fairly common problem, but it needn’t necessarily preclude you from wearing contact lenses. Here's some advice.

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Dry eye is a fairly common problem, but it needn’t necessarily preclude you from wearing contact lenses. Here's some advice.

Dry Eye is also known as keratoconjunctivitis sicca (KCS) and is the result of an imbalance in the quality and quantity of tears, whose job it is to lubricate and nourish the surface of the eye.

Tears are important: they keep the cornea and conjunctiva in good shape. You might think of tears as simply salty water, but the tear film on your eyes actually consists of three layers.

The outer layer contains mostly oil, reducing evaporation of the underlying layers of tears. The middle layer is more than 95 percent water, while the innermost layer comprises mucus, which helps nourish the cornea.

It’s when any or all of these layers break down that the cornea develops a shortage and dry eye occurs, leading to the familiar, unpleasant symptoms of eyes that feel gritty, itchy and sensitive to light.

All of this may mean that you can’t wear contacts for as long as others, or that you choose to wear your contacts less often. You can also try eye drops. Speak to your optometrist.

Read more:
Dry eyes
Macular degeneration

 

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Optometrist

Megan Goodman qualified as an optometrist from the University of Johannesburg. She has recently completed a Masters degree in Clinical Epidemiology at Stellenbosch University. She has a keen interest in ocular pathology and evidence based medicine as well as contact lenses.

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