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As of Tuesday, November 23rd, 2021, Ontario Optometrists have agreed to resume services for OHIP funded patients. If your appointment was cancelled, please call our office to reschedule. You can also book online.

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Are Your Contact Lenses Causing Dry Eye?

Among the more frequent complaints, eye doctors receive from patients is that their contact lenses are making their eyes dry. While dry eye syndrome (DES) is very common among both contact lens wearers and non-wearers alike, the symptoms can be more severe and uncomfortable if you wear contact lenses. Typically, DES symptoms include irritated, red and itchy eyes.

The best way to deal with contact lens-induced dry eye syndrome is to visit Dr. Lowy, Dr. Sewell, and Dr. Wan, so we can determine exactly why your eyes are dry and provide ways to increase your comfort while wearing contact lenses.

What Is Contact Lens-Induced Dry Eye?

The cornea, the front of your eye, is the only area of your body that receives oxygen directly from the air. One reason contact lens wearers are predisposed to dry eyes is because the contact lens on your cornea can partially block oxygen from entering the eye. Although many contact lenses are designed to allow larger amounts of oxygen to permeate the eye, wearers can still experience dry, gritty eyes, especially towards the end of the day.

Another cause of contact lens-induced dry eye is the lenses’ absorption of tears. Lenses need liquid to stay soft and maintain their shape and integrity.

This is known as contact lens-induced dry eye.

In a healthy eye, tears allow the contact lens to comfortably swim in the tear film above the cornea. A shortage of lacrimal fluid can lead to gaps in the tear film, causing the contact lens to irritate the surface of the eye. That, in turn, causes pain, redness and itchiness.

This effect can be further exacerbated if the lenses are low in quality or are poorly fitted to the eye. Such contacts absorb too much liquid from the tear film, causing the eye to lose vital moisture. This can also occur when traditional soft lenses are worn for an extended period of time.

Getting Relief for Contact-Lens Induced Dry Eye

The following can provide relief from contact lens-related dry eye.

  • Eye drops – Be sure to get eye drops that can be applied safely with contact lenses to reduce discomfort and refresh eyes. If, for any reason, the over-the-counter eye drops aren’t working, consult Dr. Lowy, Dr. Sewell, and Dr. Wan, who can provide more effective treatment options.
  • Eye vitamins – Certain vitamins, taken orally, can increase the amount of nutrients your eyes receive. This not only improves eye health, but also increases contact lens comfort. The best eye vitamins and supplements include lutein, zeaxanthin, Vitamin A, Vitamin C and Omega-3.
  • Silicone hydrogel contact lenses – These lenses are made from the most innovative contact lens material available on the market. They are extremely breathable because they permit up to 5 times more oxygen to reach the eye than older-generation contact lenses. This allows them to be worn over a long period of time. They reduce dryness and boost comfort.
  • Low water content contact lenses It is a common misconception that the higher the water content, the more comfortable the contact lens. For certain wearers, particularly those suffering from dry eyes, it can have the inverse effect. High water contact lenses allow more oxygen to flow to the cornea but over time, as they lose liquid, they draw it from the tear film, thus exacerbating dry eye symptoms.
  • Daily disposable contact lenses – Also called dailies, these single-day contact lenses are a great option for dry eye sufferers. This is because protein deposits don’t have the time to build-up and cause discomfort, and lenses don’t dry out as a result of improper cleaning routines.
  • Scleral lenses – These large-diameter rigid gas permeable (GP) lenses vault over the entire corneal surface, ensuring that the front surface of the eyes don’t dry out. The liquid reservoir between the lenses and the cornea provides a continuous moist environment that protects the cornea and provides relief for those with dry eyes.
  • Orthokeratology – Would you like to wear contact lenses only when asleep? Orthokeratology (or ortho-k) is a gas permeable contact lens prescribed for overnight wear only. These lenses reshape the cornea while you sleep and temporarily correct nearsightedness and other refractive errors, thus enabling you to see clearly during the day without any need for contacts or glasses. This reduces contact lens-related dry eye symptoms.
  • Adhering to the hygiene routine advised by your eye doctor – Those who wear monthly lenses need to adhere to a specific hygiene routine advised by their eye doctor. If you’re using the wrong solution or not cleaning your lenses properly, this could be why you’re suffering from dry eye. Keep in mind that not all multi-purpose cleaning solutions are designed to clean silicone hydrogel contact lenses, so make sure the solution you’re using is correct.

        There is also a chance you may have sensitive eyes and that your dry eye symptoms may be an adverse reaction to the preservatives in the solution. If your eyes feel irritated, yet you are using your regular cleaning solution, speak to Dr. Lowy, Dr. Sewell, and Dr. Wan, who will recommend a preservative-free lens solution for improved comfort.

        Tips to Avoid Dry Eye When Wearing Contact Lenses

        Dry Eye Girl 640×350To prevent eye dryness or inflammation, we recommend the following tips:

        • Make sure you’ve been fitted for your contact lenses by an eye doctor, as the eye practitioner can determine the exact strength and curvature of the contact lenses you need, and recommend the most suitable lenses for your eyes.
        • Regularly get your eyes examined for vision acuity and general ocular health. Contact Lowy & Sewell Eye Care today for a comprehensive eye evaluation.
        • Purchase high-quality lenses and make sure they have good oxygen permeability. Lenses with hyaluronan, particularly silicone hydrogel lenses, are excellent for people prone to developing dry eyes. Hard lenses also come highly recommended, as they draw very little liquid from the tear film.
        • Until you find a better solution, do not wear contact lenses for extended periods. If you suffer from dry eyes, it is best that you only wear them for a few hours and on special occasions, such as for an outing or to play sports. Avoid wearing contact lenses when watching TV or working at your computer, as these place a strain on your eyes.
        • Make sure to dispose of lenses every day, fortnightly or monthly, depending on what your eye doctor recommends. Your contact lens containers should also be changed every few weeks to prevent any germ build-up.
        • Avoid wearing contact lenses when ill with a cold or the flu, as there is an increased risk of transferring germs into the eyes. Remove contact lenses if you have an eye infection like conjunctivitis (or pink eye), as germs can build up extremely well underneath them.

        If you wear contact lenses and struggle with dry eyes, ask your Lowy & Sewell Eye Care eye doctor about scleral lenses. Dr. Lowy, Dr. Sewell, and Dr. Wan will patiently assess and explain your condition to you, and will provide solutions and treatments for optimal visual clarity and comfort. Fortunately, there’s a vast array of contact lens types and brands available, so those who fear that they may have to discontinue contact lens wear altogether need not worry.

        Call the Lowy & Sewell Eye Care today to schedule your consultation.

        Our practice serves patients from Concord, Thornhill, North York, and Bathurst Manor, Ontario and surrounding communities.
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        Everything You Need to Know About Meibomian Gland Dysfunction

        If your eyes itch, burn, sting, look red, or you have a constant feeling of something being lodged in your eye, you may have a condition called Meibomian (“my-BOH-mee-an”) Gland Dysfunction, or MGD. This condition is the leading cause of Dry Eye Syndrome.

        Patients from throughout the Concord area suffering from Meibomian Gland Dysfunction. If you suffer from any of these symptoms or think you might have MGD, contact the Lowy & Sewell Eye Care. Dr. Lowy, Dr. Sewell, and Dr. Wan can help you with the long-term relief you need.

        What is Meibomian Gland Dysfunction?

        Our tears are made up of three components: the lipid (oil) layer, aqueous (water) layer, and the mucus (sticky) layer. These components work in unison to lubricate and coat the eyes, keeping them moist and comfortable.

        Your meibomian glands control the lipids in the eye (meibum) which combine with water and mucus in the eye area to create a thin film that consistently lubricates your eyes. Meibum is an essential part of your eye’s makeup as it prevents the evaporation of the eye’s tear film.

        Meibomian Gland Dysfunction occurs when the meibomian glands fail to provide enough meibum. This can be triggered by various factors and causes the tear film to evaporate at a quicker rate, leading the eyes to feel dry and uncomfortable.

        What Are the Symptoms of Meibomian Gland Dysfunction?

        Depending on your specific case, your symptoms may be mild or severe, quick or long-lasting.

        The most common symptoms of MGD include:

        • Blurry vision
        • Burning and dry sensation
        • Difficulty wearing contact lenses
        • Watery eyes
        • Red, sore and gritty eyes
        • Crusty or sticky eyelids

        The increased use of air conditioning or heating systems in the summer and winter months may intensify symptoms. Humid climates, extreme temperatures, and dusty and windy conditions may aggravate eye dryness and itchiness as well.

        What are the Causes of Meibomian Gland Dysfunction?

        • Age: MGD tends to manifest in older people, particularly in women during and after menopause
        • Taking certain medications: particularly retinoic acid (acne treatment), HRT (hormone replacement therapy for menopausal women), antidepressants, antihistamines, anti-androgen medication (used to treat prostatic hypertrophy).
        • Endocrine disorders
        • Pregnancy
        • Wearing contact lenses for an extended period of time.
        • Immune system disorders: atopic rosacea, psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis and Sjogren’s syndrome.

        Excessive screen time has also been linked to the development of MGD. Staring at a screen on your TV, smartphone, computer or tablet, causes you to blink less frequently. Blinking naturally moisturizes your eyes, and by doing so, clears any small particles that may have accidentally lodged in your eye. Less frequent blinking results in dryer eyes, which can harm the long-term ability of your meibomian glands to function properly.

        What are the Solutions for Meibomian Gland Dysfunction?

        Treatments for Meibomian Gland Dysfunction range from self-administered or practitioner-administered treatments and typically involve a few methods, such as artificial tears, heat application, and manual gland expression. Dr. Lowy, Dr. Sewell, and Dr. Wan usually suggests applying warm compresses over your eyelids as a first course of action. This gently opens the clogged glands and loosens the oil that may have accumulated. Warm compresses can provide temporary relief.

        Further therapies used to manage MGD include omega-3 supplementation, topical antibiotics, oral tetracyclines to reduce the level of pro-inflammatory cytokines, corticosteroids, or topical cyclosporine.

        People with MGD commonly purchase over-the-counter eye drops to lubricate their eyes. Unfortunately, these drops tend to provide only transient relief, because, without an adequate layer of Meibomian Gland oil, the liquid from the drops simply evaporate off of the eye. Dr. Lowy, Dr. Sewell, and Dr. Wan at Lowy & Sewell Eye Care can recommend the appropriate eye drops or treatment for your dry eye case to improve your eye comfort levels.

        Think You Have MGD? We Can Help

        If you are suffering from any of the above symptoms or conditions, then reach out to the Lowy & Sewell Eye Care. Based on the degree of your condition, symptoms, and lifestyle, Dr. Lowy, Dr. Sewell, and Dr. Wan will recommend the best course of treatment for you.

        Our practice serves patients from Concord, Thornhill, North York, and Bathurst Manor, Ontario and surrounding communities.

        “I went to the Lowy & Sewell Eye Care and everyone there was professional and courteous. Dr. Lowy, Dr. Sewell, and Dr. Wan did a thorough evaluation and treatment. I’m happy to say that my eyes feel comfortable and my vision is back to how it was before the condition began.”

        Jennifer P. Craig, Yen-Heng Chen, Philip R. K. Turnbull; Prospective Trial of Intense Pulsed Light for the Treatment of Meibomian Gland Dysfunction. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2015;56(3):1965-1970. doi: 10.1167/iovs.14-15764.

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