THE BLOG

Dry Eyes? High Water Content Lenses Isn't Always the Answer

08/04/2014 12:33 BST | Updated 07/06/2014 10:59 BST

A very common complaint of contact lens wearers is that their contact lenses feel like they are giving them dry eye sensations. Dry eye disorders are common in both people who wear lenses and those that do not. There are many different types of dry eye conditions and a variety of different causes and management options. An eye care practitioner will always be able to inform you appropriately.

Soft contact lenses are made from a combination of hydrophilic polymers containing water to prevent dehydration of the contact lens and to improve on eye comfort. The percentage of the water in soft contact lenses can vary, from 30% to 80%. In recent years contact lens technologies have progressed by leaps and bounds. You just have to look at Google's smart contact lens as an example, where 10 years ago this would have only been something you'd see in a sci-fi movie.

Intuitively, if you think that your eyes are dry, you might think that you need lenses containing as much water as possible but in fact it's the opposite. The best contact lenses for dry eyes can be types with low water content. A contact lens with high water content can lose its moisture more rapidly due to the dryness of the ambient environment by a process of evaporation.

In addition, if your eyes are inherently dry and you wear contact lenses with high water content, the contact lenses can absorb the water component of the tears from your eyes to stay hydrated by a process known as osmosis, which increases the dryness sensation in your eyes. A hydrophilic contact lens is like a sponge that absorbs tears. The higher the water content, the more the lens will draw on your tears for moisture to keep itself in its normal hydrated state.

However, if you don't suffer from dry eyes and know how to handle your contact lenses correctly then contact lenses with a higher water content will give you better comfort, superior optical quality and an increased wearing time. The majority of contact lens wearers are successful in enjoying clear and comfortable vision.

Selecting the right contact lenses can be a daunting task. However, if you are clear about what you want to achieve from your contact lenses and have your eyes examined thoroughly for suitability, then your eye care practitioner can explain all the options that would be best suited to you. This includes your contact lens care products such as disinfecting and storage solutions.

In conclusion, high water content contact lenses do not necessarily equate to best comfort. A lower water content contact lens may be more suitable for you depending on the habitual status of your eye's tear film layers. Every person's eyes are unique and we all have different wants and needs. If in doubt, always consult your eye care practitioner. Their expertise places them in a unique position to advise you accordingly. You may well save yourself time and money.