If you wear contact lenses, you should only use eye drops that are specifically designated for use with contacts.
The best eye drops for contact lenses are rewetting drops that are free of preservatives.
If you wear contact lenses, you can use other types of eye drops, but it’s recommended that you remove the contacts before using the drops. Then, wait at least 10 minutes before putting your contacts back in.
Types of Eye Drops
Some types of eye drops are safe to use with contact lenses, while others are not.
Generally, rewetting drops are the only type of drop that should be used while contacts are in the eyes. With other drops, you should wait at least 10 minutes after using them before putting contacts in your eyes.
- Medicated eye drops: If you have an eye injury or infection, you may be prescribed medicated eye drops, such as antibiotics. Your doctor will likely recommend that you refrain from wearing contacts while your eyes heal, so you won’t be using these drops with contacts.
- Allergy eye drops: You shouldn’t apply these drops while contacts are in your eyes. If you need to use allergy eye drops, remove your contact lenses, use the drops, and then wait at least 10 minutes before putting your contacts back in.
- Vasoconstrictor eye drops: These eye drops are used to reduce eye redness. They contain components known as vasoconstrictors, which tighten small eye blood vessels. If you wear contact lenses, you should not use these eye drops, as they further reduce the amount of oxygen that gets to the eyes.
- Dry eye drops: These are used both for lubricating the eye and healing the eye’s outer surface. It is not advisable to wear contacts when using these eye drops because they can make your contacts sticky or cloud them, blurring your vision.
- Rewetting eye drops: This is another name for contact lens eye drops. They are the best eye drops for contact lenses because they are designed to hydrate both the contact lens and the eye. On their packaging, it will clearly say that they are specifically for use with contact lenses.
Best Eye Drops for Use With Contacts
Here are some of the best eye drops for those who wear contacts:
- Blink-n-Clean Lens Drops: These drops are designed to work when contacts are in the eyes. They relieve eye dryness and clean the contacts. By keeping the contacts clean and free from protein buildup, they relieve eye irritation and reduce any vision cloudiness.
- Refresh Contacts: These drops relieve dryness and irritation associated with contact lens wear. The drops serve as a cushion between the cornea and the contact, helping to protect the eye from dryness and irritation.
- Refresh Relieva for Contacts Lubricant Eye Drops for Dry Eyes: This eye drop can alleviate irritation and discomfort associated with contact lenses. Its special hydro-cell feature keeps eyes moisturized for hours. They work well with both soft and gas permeable lenses.
- Opti-Free Puremoist Rewetting Drops: These drops provide long-term moisture to the eyes and rapid relief of eye discomfort. They also help to wash away particles and other external debris around the lens that can cause dryness.
- Boston Rewetting Drops: These drops quickly eliminate discomfort, irritability, and dryness, and they are designed for use with gas permeable contacts. Since they moisturize the lenses and the eyes, they can extend the life of contacts.
- Lumify Redness Reliever Eye Drops: This eye drop solution uses brimonidine to eliminate redness. Unlike pseudoephedrine, this ingredient does not cause rebound or redness.
Like any other medicated eye drops, you should only use these drops when contacts are not in your eyes. Wait 10 minutes before putting contacts back in your eyes after using them.
Why Can Contacts Cause Dry Eye?
It’s estimated that about 50% of people who wear contacts experience dry eyes because of their contact use.
Eye dryness related to wearing contacts is usually due to a lack of or low-quality tears. When the eye is healthy, adequate and quality tears allow the contact lens to rest above the cornea in the tear film there. If this tear film is not sufficient, the contact lens can aggravate the eye.
Poor tear quality usually means that there is insufficient oil in the tears.
If the contact lens is poor quality, not fitted properly, or worn for too long, it can absorb too much of the tear film, leading to eye dryness. If you are allergic to any ingredient in your contact lens solution, this can also lead to dry eyes.
Ingredients to Avoid in Eye Drops if You Wear Contacts
If you wear contacts, avoid eye drops that contain preservatives.
Artificial tears often come with preservatives because they help prevent bacteria from multiplying inside the drops bottle. However, preservatives can cause and worsen dry eye problems.
Some people experience mild dryness and irritation due to preservatives in eye drops. Others are allergic to preservatives and can experience severe eye dryness.
How to Prevent Contacts From Drying Out
- Only wear contacts for the amount of time instructed on the labeling. If you wear your contacts for longer periods of time, they are more likely to cause dryness.
- Use rewetting drops before putting contacts in your eyes. This sets a good base of moisture before you insert your contacts.
- Regularly clean your lenses and store them properly. In some cases, rapid drying of the eye can be caused by underlying dirt and impurities on the surface of the lens.
- Wear sunglasses, particularly wraparound glasses, which will shield your eyes from the sun and drying winds.
- Drink a lot of water to avoid getting dehydrated.
- Consider taking supplements that contain fatty acids since they effectively reduce dry eye symptoms in some cases.
- Blink more often, especially when you are reading or using a computer for long periods of time.
- Use rewetting drops as needed throughout the day. Ensure the drops you choose are designed for use with contacts.
Eye Drops for Contact Lenses FAQs
Are there eye drops you can use with contacts?
Yes. Various types of eye drops are designed for use with contacts, including rewetting and moisturizing eye drops. Confirm the brand you choose is designed for use with contacts before using it.
When should you use rewetting drops?
You can use rewetting drops as often as needed. Ideally, use the drops before your eyes become too dry. Aim to use them when you first experience symptoms of dryness.
Can you use Visine with contacts?
No, you should not use vasoconstrictor drops like Visine with contacts. These drops dilate blood vessels and can result in further eye dryness.
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Adverse Effects of Contact Lenses. National Research Council.
Contact Lens FAQs. The University of Iowa Hospital and Clinic.
Yes, Dry Eye Patients Can Wear Contacts. (August 2015). Review of Optometry.
The Correlation Between Daily Lens Wear Duration and Dry Eye Syndrome. (May 2018). Open Access Macedonian Journal of Medical Sciences.
New Ways to Keep Dry Eye Patients Comfortable in Contact Lenses. (December 2020). Optometry Times.
Last Updated May 23, 2022
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