People concentrate a lot while working at their computers, and blink less frequently. This can lead to severe discomfort for contact lens users, as not blinking for longer periods can cause the surface of their contact lenses to dry out. Dry eye syndrome, due to lack of blinking in contact lens wearers, can cause blurring and discomfort to them. According to studies, computer users blink around three times less than they normally should. For contact lens wearers, it is advisable that they blink once every 4 to 5 seconds to keep their lens from drying.
Other than the lack of blinking, some types of contact lenses can also cause dry eye syndrome. Generally, soft contact lenses are made of polymers and water, with up to 70% water at times. You feel comfortable as long as the lens is moist, but as the day progresses the water evaporates. The lens absorbs the tears from the eyes to remain moist, but leaves you with a feeling of dry eyes. It is known that the more water the lens contains, the more it is prone to lose its moisture.
As this is a serious problem with contact lens wearers, and more so with those spending hours in front of the computer, many manufacturers are constantly trying to produce contact lenses that will be comfortable for people with dry eyes. One way, it whas been found, is to reduce the water content of the lens. Some people have responded well to the new hydrogel contact lenses. Modern silicon hydrogel lenses are only about 30% water – which is much less than the 50% to 60% of traditional lenses, and the 70% of soft contact lenses. In addition, the new polymers used in the contact lenses keep the lens moist.
Such contact lenses are a boon for computer users, as they will help avoid dry eye syndrome.
Dry eye is a common disorder, caused by the deficiency of tears in the eyes, or by excessive tear evaporation. Dry eyes are associated with a number of causes, such as drug use, inflammation, allergic reactions, and contact lens use. Dry eyes often cause contact lens intolerance. People normally suffering from mild dry eyes may not feel any discomfort until they wear contact lenses, and the discomfort increases with the hours spent in front of the computer.
Some doctors recommend switching to Rigid Gas Permeable (RGP) contact lenses for those who spend hours working on the computer with their dry eye syndrome. RGP contact lenses are made from polymeric materials and do not contain any water. This is unlike soft lenses, and so water will not evaporate from their surface.
One major advantage of RGP contact lenses is that they do not block oxygen flow to your corneas, as they are gas permeable. This is healthy for your eyes as lack of oxygen can cause serious eye problems, including inflammation of the cornea. Another advantage is that as they contain no moisture, they do not dry out. Therefore, they may be ideal for those working in conditions, such as in front of their computers, where there is a chance of dry eye syndrome.
A computer user with contact lenses with an ophthalmic prescription for nearsightedness – that is for distant viewing – may require either a separate set, or glasses, for extended mid-range VDT use. There are lenses available with tints, to reduce the glare of the VDT screens. The tints used by the computer users can affect either the perceived brightness, or the perceived color, or both.
Let us look at what you can do with your contact lenses to combat your dry eye syndrome while working long hours on your computer:
- Use Re-wetting Drops – Though a temporary solution, it does offer relief. If you have sensitive eyes, look for preservative free drops.
- Re-soak Lenses – After working for a few hours on your computer, remove your contact lenses, soak them for a few minutes and put them back. You will experience relief from dryness symptoms, and will be able to continue for a few more hours.
- Cleaning Lenses – You need to take good care of your lenses, by cleaning them properly. This will add to your comfort, as protein deposits, and other build up such as lipids etc, can contribute to dryness. Insert new lenses as often as prescribed, or change to a better and stronger lens cleaning system.
- Increase Blinking – This is the most important thing you can do if you spend many hours in front of your computer. Blinking often, rewets the lenses and increases the comfort level. Lack of proper blinking is the main reason for the dryness of eyes of computer users. You need to make a conscious effort to blink frequently.
- Switch To Different Contact Lenses – If you wish, you can still switch to a different brand of contact lenses. It is said that effective contact lenses for computer users are those that are made of the newer, more oxygen permeable silicone hydrogel materials.