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7 Common Causes of Dry Contact Lenses (and How to Avoid Them)

close up of blue tech eye

If you've ever worn contacts, you know the worst thing is wearing them when they've dried out. Dry contact lenses are uncomfortable. Also, they can harm your eyes if worn for long periods of time. So how do you overcome dry contacts? And can you prevent it from happening?

There are several factors that could contribute to dry contacts. It can be anything from sickness, lifestyle choices or the environment around you. But don't lose faith! We've put together a list of the seven most common causes of dry contacts and how to remedy the problem.

1. You're Sick

woman sick in bed blowing nose

Allergies, colds and the flu are ravenous when it comes to your eyes. Medications you typically take while sick contain agents that dry them up. When you’re unwell, all your normal body functions are out of whack. So while you're sick and on medication, it's important to give your eyes a break.

The best way to combat dry contacts when you’re sick is to take them out. Give your eyes a couple of days to heal and regain the moisture lost from medications and your immune system battling the virus.

2. You're Dehydrated

woman doing ok sign with hand while drinking cup of water

Staying hydrated is a full-time job. If you're not constantly carrying a water bottle, it can be easy to skip out on drinking the right amount of water. As a result, your skin and hair will dry out quicker. And so will your eyes and contacts. Dehydrated contact lenses can lead to itchiness, higher bacterial exposure and dryness.

Your eyes have a tear film with three layers of nourishing fluids. If your body is not hydrated, neither are your eyes’ tear films. Add contacts on top of dry eyes and you have the recipe for disaster. Avoid this scenario by drinking water. Although this tip might seem obvious, it’s surprising how often people need reminding to drink plenty of water.

3. Expired Contact Lenses

When you wear contacts, you cut off some of the airflow that needs to reach your eyes. That’s why it’s important that your contacts restore some of the lost moisture and oxygen.

If you have contacts that are monthly or weekly use, make sure you replace them when their time is up. You might feel tempted to use them past their expiration date. But doing this will reduce their effectiveness and can result in dry eyes. This is because the layer of liquid on your contacts disappears.

Remember, they were only created for their specified time frame. Don’t risk further complications! It could all end up in an uninvited infection.

4. You’re Getting Older

close up of man’s eye with dry contact lenses

As we get older, our cells start regenerating at a slower pace. This process impacts our whole body, including our hormone production, skin health and ocular oils. Our eyes produce soothing and protective oils to maintain the tear film. This keeps our eyes fresh, hydrated and rejuvenated. As we continue to age, our eyes slowly start to produce less of this oil.

If you wear contacts on top of aging eyes, they will feel dry and uncomfortable. Fight this issue by incorporating rewetting or artificial tears. Also, stay hydrated and throw out your contacts after their expiration date.

5. Overuse of Tech

Blinking is an important part of maintaining eye health. This involuntary action helps clean the surface of the eye. Blinking also protects and lubricates it.

About 80% of Americans use technology for more than two hours per day. That's at least 730 hours of screen time every year! Use of digital screens reduces our blink-per-minute (BPM) rate. Less blinking means our eyes aren’t cleaned as often and stay dry for longer periods.

There are a few things you can do to prevent screen time from affecting your contact lenses. Give your eyes a break every other day by switching between contacts and glasses. If you have to stare at screens for work or recreation, opt for blue light blocking glasses.

Another way to avoid screen eye strain is to reduce or limit your exposure. Try cutting back on how long you use technology for. Also, take breaks to vary your focus distances and relieve your eyes.

6. Mother Nature

dry and cracked desert scene with mountain range in the background

Another cause for dry eyes while wearing contacts is your surrounding environment. Smoke, ash, debris, wind and arid climates can all contribute to your eyes drying out quicker. While you can’t control these factors, you can still prevent dry contact lenses.

Install a humidifier at home and work. These machines come with many benefits. They moisten your surroundings by projecting water vapor into the air. This can help ease common cold symptoms, alleviate dry skin and improve your breathing. The resulting humidity will also help your dry eyes feel better.

7. Improper Care of Your Contacts

It might seem like common sense to take good care of your contacts, but we feel it's important to add it to the list. Improper contact care has a direct correlation with dryness.

If you sleep in your contacts, leave makeup on, forget to clean out your case or replace your solution after every use, your lenses will collect bacteria. Bacteria build-up is a major reason for dry and uncomfortable contact lenses.

Make sure to focus on contact cleaning and maintenance. This will maximize their lifespan and prevent them from drying out.

No More Dry Contact Lenses

There you have it! Seven of the most common causes of dry contact lenses and how to keep them from happening. Dry contacts are uncomfortable, itchy and all around bad for your eyes. Losing eye moisture can lead to more serious vision issues. For instance, extended blurred vision and infections. Making sure to follow your contacts’ care instructions will help avoid such issues.

If you still have questions, check out our blog article on myths about wearing contact lenses. We’ll clear a thing or two up for you!

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