Contact lenses enable millions of people to see better, to work and play without the encumbrance of eyeglasses—and, often, to feel better about their appearance.
But wearing contact lenses comes with a relatively common but lifestyle changing side effect: contact lens intolerance. An average of fifteen percent of people who wear contact lenses have to give them up because of inflammation and pain. This percentage rises as people get older—up to 30 percent of those over 50 years old have this problem.
I see many people in my own office with contact lens intolerance. They are upset and frustrated that it’s too uncomfortable to wear the contact lenses that many of them depend on. Fortunately, I can usually help them—thanks to a few new and important developments in eye care.
First, let’s understand why contact lens intolerance occurs. The most common reason is that the eyes become too dry for comfortable contact lens use. The most common culprit in dry eye is a condition known as meibomian gland dysfunction. This is a super confusing name for a condition that millions of people suffer from.
Normally, a thin layer of tear film keeps the eye moist and comfortable. Keeping that layer of tears intact requires a substance called meibum, made by the meibomian gland. Meibum is a type of oil. Since oil and water don’t mix, the oil forms a very thin film on the tears. This film prevents the water in the tears from evaporating.
A healthy meibomian gland makes plenty of the oil, ensuring that the eyes stay moist and protected but, unfortunately, this gland doesn’t always work as it’s supposed to.
The meibomian glands can get blocked, preventing the oil from being released and reaching the tears. One of several new approaches can help resolve this problem. The first is a device called LipiFlow. A special patented eyepiece applies a precise amount of heat and pressure to the inner eyelid, unblocking most meibomian glands and releasing the crucial oil. Clinical trials show that nearly 80 percent of patients experience improvement after a single treatment. We currently do not offer this service in our office, but it is on the horizon.
Meibomian gland dysfunction isn’t the only condition that can lead to contact lens intolerance, though. Another common problem is something called blepharitis, where bacteria grow on the eyelids, causing inflammation, pain, redness, and a crusty buildup of debris along the lid margins. Almost all of us know what it feels like to wake up with crusty eyelids!
To control blepharitis, we’ve experienced excellent results from a very simple approach—using a new and innovative lid and lash hygiene product called Avenova® from NovaBay Pharmaceuticals. Avenova is the only prescription lid and lash hygiene product to contain Neutrox™, NovaBay’s proprietary pure 0.01% concentration of hypochlorous acid (HOCl) in saline. HOCl is the same bacteria-fighting substance your body naturally produces as a first defense against microbial invaders. Clinical data has shown that, in solution, Avenova rapidly eliminates the bacteria associated with blepharitis.
For my patients with contact lens intolerance and other common eye problems, I recommend wiping the eyelids twice a day with Avenova sprayed onto a cotton pad—much like daily flossing to keep teeth and gums healthy. I’ve found that it works really well and patients are so happy!
So if you are upset or frustrated that wearing contact lenses has become uncomfortable, difficult, or even impossible, please visit our office and find out what we can do to make you a happy, comfortable contact lens wearer again!