ISO contact lenses that won't dry my eyes out.
January 16, 2020 12:47 PM   Subscribe

I used to wear contacts all the time. Now the ones I've used for years dry my eyes out within ten minutes of putting them in. Help me by recommending other brands to try. Before you tell me to just talk to my eye doctor already, the reason I am here is to get more information and possible products to try before going. Google isn't being very helpful unfortunately. There seem to be hundreds of products but the reviews aren't as good as I'd like. Many are also not up-to-date.

I used to wear

*Acuvue OAYSYS Biweekly, and
*Clariti 1-Day.

The Acuvue worked fine for a while and then they started to get so annoying I had to take them out all the time. I switched to Clariti which I'm told is a high-end product and they worked great up until a few years ago. Now, I find that I can only wear them if I am sure I will be in a non-bright setting. Forget anything like a beach or bright room or, worst of all, computer work, the latter of which I do a lot more of these days. The lenses get dry and distract me so much I have to take them out and put glasses on. Not sure what's changed except that apparently eyes getting drier with age is A Thing. I am in my mid-thirties.

Note that:

Not wearing glasses or contacts is not an option. I am extremely nearsighted. I'd walk into a wall.

I've tried many common OTC artificial tears, lens lubricants, saline solutions and the like. None of them work. I have not tried prescription tears or drops for this issue.

My mother who had the same near-sightedness I do used to wear gas permeable lenses and apparently never had a problem with dryness until the last few years of her life. Are gas permeables something anyone even wears anymore?

I take Zyrtec every day and sometimes Benadryl and other OTC anti-histamines, all of which contribute to this issue. Would weaning myself off them help?

I do not want to wear glasses all the time.

Please recommend contact lens brands, drops or other solutions that have worked for you.

posted by Crystal Fox to Health & Fitness (24 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Every time I'm at the optometrist for an exam, I ask if there are any new brands that might work and get samples of them so I can compare with the ones I'm currently using. I have to use toric lenses, which limits the selection a bit, so there usually aren't new options.

Biofinity Toric is the brand I've been wearing the past few years, fwiw, after trying others from the same generation. I didn't like the fit of the daily disposables I tried last year, but it was kind of exciting to have those as an option for the first time ever. I haven't worn gas permeables since the 90s (soft torics weren't available then), but definitely remember what a hassle they were when there was the least bit of dust around. They're still around if you'd like to try them, though I think they're not as easy to get in sample form.

Anyway, tips: if it's been dusty, don't hesitate to take your lenses out and rinse them. Cover your eyes when you're outside and moving, or if it's windy: sunglasses or clear safety glasses. Ski goggles if, say, you're bicycling and it's below freezing out.

Check the humidity at home, and consider using a humidifier if it's too low. Change the filters on your heating/air conditioning regularly, and dust and vacuum and change sheets and all that. It'll help with the allergies and allow you to reduce the antihistamine dosages, along with reducing eye irritation in general.

I use ClearCare solution to clean my lenses now and then. It's not something you'd need to do with daily disposables, but if you try going back to biweekly or monthly disposables you might give it a try.

And if your contacts are particularly uncomfortable, take a break from them until your eyes feel better. If you've irritated your eyes it's not worth making them worse. There is no real way around this, unfortunately. I have been prescribed and still use Refresh Plus eyedrops if I think I've done my eyeballs some damage. They're very effective, but I dunno that they're compatible with wearing contacts while using. Available OTC, and the individually-packaged ones can keep you from getting eye infections with contaminated drops.

Do get an exam and make sure that the light sensitivity and dryness aren't symptoms of something worse. I know they've got more options than I've tried for eye dryness problems, but the above steps mostly sort mine out.
posted by asperity at 1:11 PM on January 16, 2020

I like Proclear lenses the best. I tried Accuvue Oasys and didn't like them because they were more irritating, for me.

The preservatives in most eyedrops are very commonly irritating to the eyes. The more frequently you use them, the more irritated your eyes get! The best eyedrops are the ones that come in a box of thirty tiny vials of unpreserved drops, each of which is used for no more than one day and then discarded.

Since I wear my lenses for weeks before replacing them, I use ClearCare to clean them. It's a hydrogen peroxide system with a platinum catalyst in the lens case that turns the H2O2 to water overnight.

I take fish oil for another eye problem (thyroid eye disease), but it's also supposed to be good for dry eyes. I take ten 1000-mg capsules of fish oil per day, three or four capsules at the beginning of each meal. Seems to help, though evidence is inconsistent. See MedlinePlus on Dry Eyes.

Oh, and consider daily use of a steroid nasal spray as an alternative to frequent antihistamine usage.
posted by chromium at 1:22 PM on January 16, 2020 [1 favorite]

Seconding coopervision biofinity toric. It's a great product. Obviously regular Biofinity if you're not astigmatic.

Apologies if this is common sense to you, but make sure you clean your lenses every day as per your lens fluid's instructions. The "no-rub" fluids aren't actually no-rub! It made a huge difference to comfort when I finally clued in on this.
posted by sid at 1:34 PM on January 16, 2020 [1 favorite]

I like the coopervision myday dailies. I was hesitant to switch to dailies but wow... it's a game changer.
posted by fingersandtoes at 1:40 PM on January 16, 2020

I ended up getting samples of various brands from optometrist, because of similar eye irritation with other brands. Accuvue Oasys ended up working for me for occasional use.

Not trying to skirt your request to not be advised to visit your eye doctor, because I hate when people ignore what I type in my own AskMe questions, but your eye doc may also have samples from various manufacturers to try out, which might help you find a better match.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 1:42 PM on January 16, 2020 [1 favorite]

i've been on restasis for 2 years now and i can wear my contacts about 90 minutes per day, maybe 2-3x a week. i do not expect it to get any better. depending how old you are and how many years you've been wearing lenses daily, your eyes might just be Done With Lenses. sorry.
posted by poffin boffin at 1:43 PM on January 16, 2020

I will second Proclear lenses, I happen to wear the ones for astigmatism but think all CooperVision lenses are great. I have dry eyes that started in my 30s as well. Used drops all the time and had irritated eyes from staring at a screen all day and these are the first lenses I have worn in my life that I don't even think about. No more drops all the time while wearing these contacts! I have found that all the contacts made specifically for dry eyes are absolutely horrible after a couple of hours for me – they all seemed like they made my eyes feel more dry, like they were doing the exact opposite of how they were supposed to work.
posted by blacktshirtandjeans at 1:44 PM on January 16, 2020

Mr. Tuesday has trouble with dry eye, tho he doesn't wear contacts. Our eye doctor advised him to use the preservative-free vials of eye drops. When those weren't enough, the doc gave him a prescription for Xiidra. If Xiidra drops are not enough, the next step is a procedure to insert punctal plugs, which block some of the tears from draining. The doc also recommended fish oil and a humidifier, one for the bedroom and one for the office.
posted by tuesdayschild at 1:53 PM on January 16, 2020 [1 favorite]

A few things:

* Try the Biofinity Torics. I've been using Biofinity Torics for years. My optometrist has always been very focused on dry eyes, and when I first started seeing him, he gave me several samples to test; the Biofinitys were the best in terms of dry eyes. I didn't like the Oasys as nearly as much.

* He advised me to keep my eyes lubricated also when I'm NOT wearing contacts. Keeps the ducts flowing and the eye system healthy, which helps protect against dry eyes while you're wearing contacts. I often put in artificial tears after I take out my contacts at night; I always put in artificial tears right before sleeping; and I almost always put more in when I wake up. I usually use TheraTears. I don't like the way Systane feels.

* I usually take my contacts out soon after I get home, so that I've worn contacts max about 12 hours per day. I find that it helps my overall eye comfort to do that.

* While you are using contacts, if you need to use artificial tears, make sure you use drops that are intended to work with contacts. Also, per my optometrist, the drops that are in individual capsules do not have preservatives, which might make the drops more comfortable to use and certainly makes them more contact-compatible.
posted by odin53 at 1:54 PM on January 16, 2020 [1 favorite]

When I first started having problems I was wearing Acuvue Advance. A new doctor switched me to Acuvue Oasys, and further switched me to ClearCare and recommended Blink drops for rewetting. The combination of Oasys and ClearCare was almost good enough to last a work day. But I usually only got about six hours out of them, so I mostly just ended up wearing glasses rather than have to remove contacts at the office.

I found a new doctor who was a better listener than the last two doctors had been and ran through everything one more time. He seemed to need a little prompting from me to get to the idea of daily disposables, but once we were on them he ran through a couple likely candidates before we settled on something. He first wanted to try me in Biofinity, but I'd had bad luck with their fit before, and I had it again. (I seem to be a problem fit in general for the toric lens I should be wearing in one eye; either they're really uncomfortable or they float, or both). He seemed to want to try any Acuvue 1-day lenses last (if ever) and I couldn't get any reason out of him. So I can't speak to pros or cons of the latest Acuvue lenses because we found something else before we got that far.

We ended up with Proclear 1-day. I've had much better results with them than I had with any Acuvue so I guess maybe he knew something he wasn't letting on. I can generally make it eight hours, and sometimes up to ten or eleven. But my glasses are progressive and correct astigmatism while my contacts are single-vision and spherical, so I still mostly wear my glasses. I just use contacts when I'm going to be outdoors and active and don't want glasses sliding down my nose as I sweat.

Since I'm not disinfecting the 1-day lenses my current doctor had me get some Sensitive Eyes Plus saline for the rare occasions I need to rinse a lens. I don't know the last time I bought any rewetting drops, but I think he also said Blink were good. NB the company that makes both Biofinity and Proclear has a new 1-day lens called MyDay. It might also be worth considering.
posted by fedward at 1:55 PM on January 16, 2020

Biotrue one days work pretty well for me, but I also found that Avenova spray was annoyingly helpful. (Annoying because the OTC version is only available through Amazon and it seems absurdly expensive for what it is, and... just... for heaven's sake! But it increased my contact lens tolerance and general eye comfort a lot.)
posted by redfoxtail at 2:00 PM on January 16, 2020

oh also wrt punctal plugs mentioned above: mine kept falling out so i had the little drain holes in my lower lids cauterized shut. that made more of a difference than any drops or different lens brands did.
posted by poffin boffin at 2:00 PM on January 16, 2020

i wish i could help

i cannot. i gave up contacts (i have/had) same issues as you and *nothing* worked....

i am now wearing a pair of rimless glasses which are as light as i can get them and have given up contacts..

posted by prk60091 at 2:16 PM on January 16, 2020

I tore a cornea from taking out dry contacts (do not recommend, be careful everyone) and this resulted in severe dry eye. I saw a dry eye specialist and these are the main things I was told to do (and did):

1) Switch to daily contacts (specifically they had me switch to Alcon dailies -water gradient silicone hydrogel contact lenses).

2) Use lid wipes in the morning and evening (promotes natural tears) - NOTE - you can make your own lid wipes using a small amount of baby shampoo with water on a clean washcloth or on a fresh cotton pads

3) Apply an ointment at night

4) Humidifier at night

After doing all of the above for about 6 months, my chronic dry eye cleared up (however, dry eye might not be a temporary thing for everyone, and you may have to continue).

Once it cleared up, I decided to get laser eye surgery and now have dry eye again (a common post-op symptom). My favourite type of eye drops post surgery are systane ultra preservative free.

ALSO - If the dry eyes didn't clear up, the next step was to be punctal plugs (as noted by Tuesdayschild above)
posted by devonia at 2:20 PM on January 16, 2020 [1 favorite]

I’ve been wearing contacts for 28 years and I have been very happy with the air optix Aqua branded ones for the past 7 or 8 years. I think they are monthly but I wear them closer to 3 months as I have done with all of my monthly contacts. (Not doctor recommended but I’m on a budget). I’ve never had good luck with any contacts that were less than monthly.
posted by one4themoment at 2:30 PM on January 16, 2020

I moved to Colorado about 8 years ago and have had a lot of problems with dry eyes and contacts. I used Acuvue Oasys for the 10 years preceding our move, but they just weren't working for me here. I also tried using the old school cleaning systems, but that didn't fix it. Finally, I tried SOFMED BREATHABLES ADVANCED, and those have worked really well for me for the past 4 years. I would recommend trying a sample from your doctor.
posted by fyrebelley at 2:55 PM on January 16, 2020 [1 favorite]

Does anyone know the name of the non-preservative pack of eyedrops?
posted by Armed Only With Hubris at 3:01 PM on January 16, 2020

Acuvue Moist dailies were a game-changer for me. I have chronic dry eyes and have been to multiple eye doctors, all of them recommending this as the best on the market for dry eyes. Daily/single wear lenses are also great if you have sensitive eyes.
posted by joan_holloway at 3:08 PM on January 16, 2020

I wore contact lenses for 20+ years with no problem and then basically overnight my eyes decided they'd had enough and no matter what I did - torics, dailies, rare use, humidifiers all the time, anything... a LOT of conversations with my optometrist - my eyes would just not accept them long term. I could only really get away with wearing contact lenses on days when I was outside for most of the day or maybe for an evening out. That was it. Otherwise, it was super thick glasses for my -10 prescription.

I ended up getting laser surgery (PRK) and while the recovery was terrible due to the drastic change, it was the best thing I ever did. I highly recommend it if you can afford it and to take time off to recover from it.

That said, the recovery did give me some good tips for dealing with dry eyes, given that my hobby afterwards became eyedrops like 20 x a day (not exaggerating, though thankfully I'm doing well now). I got the surgery at the eye institute at a local hospital, basically a not-for-profit teaching institute - they gave me a set of lipid-based eyedrops that were nice and thick that I still use every night and first thing in the morning - Bausch and Lomb's Liposec - that make my eyes nice and moist during the day. They also warned me off of eyedrops with preservatives in them (your eyes grow used to the eyedrops and they lose effectiveness) and steered me toward Hydrasense Advanced for Dry Eyes, which are fine for contact lens wearers and help with the dry periods during the day
posted by urbanlenny at 3:31 PM on January 16, 2020 [1 favorite]

+1 Biofinities. Change mascara brands (if you wear mascara), also make sure you get it *entirely* off at night. Instead of multipurpose solution, saline + a daily cleaner! Huge difference, for me.
posted by cotton dress sock at 3:54 PM on January 16, 2020

Seconding Acuvue Moist daily lenses. I switched years ago and it changed my life!
posted by beyond_pink at 7:04 PM on January 16, 2020

Both Blink and Refresh Plus brands make a daily-vial no-preservative option of eye drops.
posted by Autumnheart at 7:26 PM on January 16, 2020 [1 favorite]

I have severe keratoconus and just switched over to scleral lenses

Crazy expensive and probably not an option for you, but they are life changing. The lenses are permanently filled with saline solution, so your cornea stays wet all day. They rest on the white of the eye, so you don’t feel them. They seal tight so dust can’t get in.

Honestly the best lenses I’ve ever worn and I’ve had everything from the old gas-perms to daily softs. If they are at all an option make the switch.
posted by Eddie Mars at 8:11 PM on January 16, 2020 [1 favorite]

ummm...I'll chime in as apparently the only gas-permeable contact lens wearer on here. 42 years and counting. I put them in in the morning and take them out before bed, so routinely 16+ hours per day. 2020 vision last time it was checked. They're not perfect, sometimes a rock will blow in and I'll have to pop it out and run some water over it; usually enough tears will flush it out. The acclimation, way back in the day, was 2 weeks of misery.

I did have an issue, a few years ago, where I'd rest my eyes for a few minutes and the lenses felt really irritating, in a way I'd never felt before, so I assumed maybe my contact lens days were over, but got a fresh set of lenses and am back in business.
posted by Bron at 7:08 AM on January 17, 2020 [1 favorite]

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