Managing Dry Eye While Wearing Contact Lenses

Nov 27, 2023

Contact lenses are a convenient and practical alternative to prescription eyeglasses. In fact, the CDC estimates that approximately 45 million Americans wear contact lenses. However, dry eye can make wearing contacts uncomfortable.

Contact Lenses And Dry Eye

Many people experience dry eye, with some developing the condition from wearing contacts. However, you do not have to give up wearing contacts if you have dry eye syndrome. There are several ways to manage dry eye syndrome and wear contacts.

Having dry eye disease means your tear film is not working as well as it should. Dry eye does not disqualify you from wearing contacts, ­­­but improper wear and care can cause or exacerbate dry eye issues.

How To Mitigate Dry Eye While Wearing Contact Lenses

No matter the cause of your dry eye symptoms, there are effective strategies to manage your condition while enjoying enhanced vision from contact lenses. As always, eye care professionals recommend scheduling a comprehensive eye exam with your eye doctor for the best results.

Always Wash Your Hands Before You Handle Your Contact Lenses

Particularly when fatigued, many forget to sanitize their hands before handling their contact lenses. Handling your lenses with clean hands minimizes the risk of transferring infection- causing pathogens to your lenses and ultimately to your eyes.

The American Optometric Association recommends using water and mild soap to wash your hands; then drying them with a lint-free towel.

Never Sleep With Your Lenses On

Sleeping in contacts increases the risk of developing a corneal infection. Your contacts will prevent your eyes from receiving the proper amount of oxygen required during sleep. This creates a breeding ground for bacteria and other harmful organisms.

Unfortunately, bacteria and other harmful organisms can create a corneal infection, which leads to sores on the surface of the eye. In the best-case scenarios, sleeping in your lenses can affect your tear film, worsening your dry eye symptoms.

Wear Fresh Lenses Instead Of Extending Your Wear Time

One should never reuse their contacts until they disintegrate out of the eyeballs. Instead, make eye doctors proud by following their wear and care instructions. Even if you are careful about cleaning your lenses as directed, debris and microorganisms can build up on them over time, increasing the risk of infections.

Change The Solution In Your Contact Lens Case Daily

If you are a thrifty individual, you may top off the contact lens solution to save cost. but this is a poor choice. The American Optometric Association recommends throwing out the old solution and putting in a new one daily to prevent bacteria growth.

It is best to empty and rinse the case with a contact lens solution when you remove your lenses from the case and put them on your eyes. You should then set the case upside down to dry on clear tissue paper. Reusing the solution will decrease its disinfection properties, leading to issues like infection and inflammation.


While taking proper care of your lenses is essential, good eye health practices are vital to keeping your eyes in optimal condition. If experiencing dry eye symptoms, contact your eye doctor as soon as possible. The doctor will diagnose the problem and recommend the appropriate treatment plan based on your needs.


For more on dry eye, visit BIG CITY OPTICAL at any of our 16 locations in Chicago or the North Shore. Use this guide to find a store near you and schedule an appointment.