Contact lenses have so far been an efficient and widely accepted alternative to glasses. They can be worn without necessarily changing a person’s appearance and are very comfortable, making them highly convenient in the modern age. However, this may not be the case in patients with dry eye syndrome.
Dry eye is a condition where the eyes do not produce enough fluid to lubricate them. The condition may make wearing ordinary contact lenses very uncomfortable. Resultantly, special contact lenses were developed for patients with the disease to ensure comfort with using contact lenses to correct vision.
Special contact lenses are of various types:
These are rigid large-diameter contact lenses that are permeable to gas. The lenses contain hydrogel instead of water and thereby do not dry out as soft lenses do. This helps to keep the eye moist. The lenses can also be custom made to fit the cornea’s shape, correcting vision better than regular soft contact lenses.
Disposable contact lenses
These are lenses that can be disposed daily. The frequent disposal enables the eye to retain more moisture than contact lenses worn for more extended periods.
The lenses are specially designed to reshape the eye surfaces. Doctors prescribe them for nightwear only so that the reshaping can take place while one is asleep. Not having to wear lenses throughout the day, enables the eye to maintain moisture and this reduces the adverse effects of dry eye syndrome.
Regular contact lenses have commonly been reported to cause dryness in the eye, worsening symptoms caused by dry eye syndrome. Therefore, alongside correcting vision, special contact lenses help to keep the eye moist.
To put on contact lenses, the patient should clean the hands well before touching the lenses. Cleaning helps to avoid infecting the eye with pathogens. S/he should then open the case and, using the fingertip of his/her non-dominant hand's index or middle finger, hold the contact lens and rinse it using contact lens solution, and not regular water. S/he should then hold the lens using the middle or index finger of his/her dominant hand with the lens’s edge up, such that the lens looks like a bowl.
The patient should ensure that the correct side faces up and that it is not damaged. If it is damaged, then the lens should not be used. While looking into a mirror and holding the eyelids apart using the non-dominant hand, the patient should gently place the contact lens on the surface of the eyeball. S/he can then close the eye and roll the eyeball such that the lens fits correctly and feels comfortable. Once s/he opens the eye, vision should be clear after blinking a few times. The same procedure can be repeated for the other eye.
To remove contact lenses, the patient should again ensure that the hands are clean before touching the eye. S/he should then use the middle finger of the dominant hand to lower the lower eyelid. Using the index finger, the patient should gently lower the contact lens to the white part and pinch it using both the index finger and the thumb to remove it from the eye. After removing it, the patient should clean the lens using contact lens solution, rinse it and place it back in its case, covering it entirely with the solution. This procedure can be repeated for the other eye.
As with most treatment procedures, the use of special contact lenses also has disadvantages. These disadvantages include the fact that the treatment is a temporary mechanism. This means that it needs to be checked and changed regularly. Secondly, patients using contact lenses are prone to contracting bacterial infections, such as pink eye or conjunctivitis, resulting from neglectful care, build up, or prolonged wear.
Patients are also at risk of their corneas being mechanically traumatized secondary to poor fitting, sleeping with the lenses, and using the lenses neglectfully. The trauma can also result from a build-up of debris or dust underneath the lens. In addition, wearing contact lenses can also result in inflammation of the eyelids secondary to continued use.