If you have recently decided to switch from glasses to contacts, then you may be surprised that your eyes feel irritated and painful. Eye pain and irritation can make contacts feel uncomfortable, and this is often caused by dry eyes. If you want your contacts to feel as comfortable as your glasses, then consider the following information.
Lubricate The Eyes
Contacts And The Tear Layer
Corrective lenses change the angle of light that enters the eye. This allows light to hit the retina properly so that sharp and clear images can be transported to the brain. With contacts, the lens sits right on the eye and changes the light angle right before images move through the pupil. Contacts are made out of a substance called Hydrogel, which contains a great deal of water. This helps to reduce irritation and to help oxygen move through the lens.
While contacts are permeable, they sit over the tear film that covers the cornea tissue. The tear film is comprised of several different layers that include oil, water, and mucin. The film lubricates and protects the eyes. If this film is compromised or broken down in some way, then your eyes will start to feel dry. Tears are added to the eyes when you blink, but contacts can disturb the tear film until your eyes get used to the contacts and start producing more tears to compensate.
Picking Artificial Tears
You may find yourself blinking more often as you try to lubricate your eyes. If your eyes do not naturally produce more tears within a day or two, then you can use artificial tears to help reduce dry eye discomfort. Artificial tears contain salts, water, and oils like natural tears, but they do not contain the proteins that help to protect the eye and spread the tears across the cornea. This means that artificial tears are not a good long-term solution to keep eyes moist. They should be used for a short period of time.
If you do purchase artificial tears, make sure to skip the red-eye-reducing varieties. Many of these eye drops do not contain lubricants. They contain vasoconstrictors instead that shrink the small blood vessels in the eyes. Also, look for a product that is meant to be used with contacts. Some artificial tears or eye drops will stain contacts if they are not made to be used with them.
Eat Eye-Healthy Foods
If you want your eyes to feel moist and lubricated throughout the day, then you need to make sure that the oily part of the tear film remains intact and healthy. The oily layer helps to keep lubrication from evaporating as quickly. You can assist your eyes with creating the film by eating foods with omega-3 fatty acids. In fact, recent studies show that a diet high in omega-3 fatty acids reduces the risk of developing dry eyes.
Foods that contain these healthy fats include salmon, tuna, mackerel, flaxseeds, walnuts, eggs, and chia seeds. In addition to eating healthy fats, your body needs more than enough water to create an abundance of tears. Dehydration can cause and contribute to a dry eye issue. Make sure to sip on a glass or bottle of water throughout the day. As you drink, keep track of the fluid that you consume. You should drink about two liters of fluid a day. If you are trying to treat a dry-eye condition, then drink a little bit more than this to make sure your body has more than enough fluid. If you sweat due to the heat or exercise, then account for the fluid loss as well and drink an extra glass of water or two.
For more information on how to comfortably wear contact lenses, contact an optometrist in your area.