Dry Eyes and Contact Lenses
Patricia S. Bainter, MD
Patricia S. Bainter, MD
Dr. Bainter is a board-certified ophthalmologist. She received her BA from Pomona College in Claremont, CA, and her MD from the University of Colorado in Denver, CO. She completed an internal medicine internship at St. Joseph Hospital in Denver, CO, followed by an ophthalmology residency and a cornea and external disease fellowship, both at the University of Colorado. She became board certified by the American Board of Ophthalmology in 1998 and recertified in 2008. She is a fellow of the American Academy of Ophthalmology. Dr. Bainter practices general ophthalmology including cataract surgery and management of corneal and anterior segment diseases. She has volunteered in eye clinics in the Dominican Republic and Bosnia. She currently practices at One to One Eye Care in San Diego, CA.
A properly fit contact lens should ride or float on the eye on a thin film of fluid (tear film). With each blink, this film of fluid between the contact lens and the eye is replaced with fresh fluid, allowing debris to be washed away and fresh oxygen that is dissolved in the fluid to reach the cornea. If this film is compromised in quantity or quality, the contact lens may become uncomfortable or even unhealthy to wear.
At each examination, the eye doctor will evaluate the fit of the contact lens and look for signs of early damage to the cornea that may be a result of a compromised tear film. If the contact lens itself is the problem, changing the lens curvature, diameter, or material may correct the problem. Sometimes the chemicals in multipurpose storage solutions for contact lenses can cause changes to the eye's surface that mimic chronic dry eye, and this can be eliminated by switching to a hydrogen-peroxide based cleansing system. Other causes of compromise include exposure to chronic wind and dust, and incomplete or infrequent blinking, such as when staring at a computer for long periods without resting the eyes.
If the doctor suspects that a patient may be suffering from dry eyes, the next step is to determine the cause so treatment can be tailored appropriately. The eye's tear film is actually composed of three separate layers, and a deficiency in any one of the three layers will result in an inadequate tear film.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 12/1/2014
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