Dry Eye Disease is extremely common, particularly among contact lens wearers. The international Dry Eye Work Shop reported that approximately 50% of contact lens wearers reported symptoms related to dry eye – 12 times more than people with normal vision and 5 times more than eyeglass wearers.
Why? The main causes of dry eye are related to the tear secretion mechanism. Use of contact lenses might result in increased evaporation of tears, impair the tear secretion mechanism and cause unbalanced dispersal of tears on the eye. The result: increased dryness for contact lens wearers.
Smart Contact Lenses for Dry Eyes
With technological developments in contact lenses, solutions were created that allow contact lenses to be worn even by people with dry eye. Alcon, for example, developed the total dailies 1 contact lens, made of silicone hydrogel that improves oxygen flow to the eye (6 times more than regular daily contact lenses). These lenses fight the dry eye phenomenon not only by better oxygen flow but by lubricating and moistening the eye. How? The lenses are made 80% water that moistens the eye during the day. The water in the lens is even positioned smartly and in a graduated manner: from 33% water near the core of the lens to almost 100% water in the exterior parts. These properties of the total dailies 1 lenses provide the lens with the properties that resemble those of a regular eye, significantly reducing the chance of dry eye disease and help fight discomfort caused by dry eye.
The news: use of contact lenses even by those who fear dry eye or who suffer from side effects of dry eye when they tried other lenses.
Why is it news for women?
Women and Dry Eye
It is surprising to learn that women are in a higher risk group for dry eye disease. Comprehensive data compiled in the United States indicate that of the 5 million Americans aged 50+ who were diagnosed as suffering from dry eye disease, almost 3.5 million were women.
A study conducted in Japan among male and female workers whose jobs include prolonged use of computer screens or telephone found that 76.5% of female workers suffered from symptoms indicating dry eye, and that the percentage of men was only 60.2%. The same study also found that male and female workers who worked over 8 hours a day in front of a screen were at higher risk of experiencing symptoms of dry eye.
A study conducted in Australia also discovered that women reported more severe symptoms of dry eye disease in comparison with men, and another study found that women suffering from dry eye syndrome reported more frequently feeling dry eye in comparison with men.
Why are women more prone to suffer dry eye disease?
In one word: hormones.
A study conducted in the United States found that women had a surge in the frequency of symptoms of dry eye around the age of 45, and particularly after signs of menopause appeared. The study essentially found that post-menopausal women were the highest risk group for dry eye disease, due to hormone changes that resulted in a decline in anti-inflammatory antibodies and a reduction in the quantity and quality of tears, which, as mentioned, is the leading cause of dry eye.
In addition, a study conducted on approximately 25,000 women who received hormone replacement therapy for menopause linked estrogen therapy to dry eye: the incidence of the phenomenon among women who did not receive hormone therapy was 5.93% in comparison with women who did receive estrogen therapy (with no progesterone) was 9.0%. In other words, 66% higher. The longer the hormone therapy – the greater the incidence of the disease.
Pregnant women were also discovered to experience dry eye, again – apparently due to hormonal changes, since changes in the levels of estrogen and progesterone affect sebaceous glands in the eyelids and might result in dry eye.
Dry Eye? Not so bad
If you suffer from dry eye and avoid wearing contact lenses as a result, you should come in for a diagnosis. Dry eye may allow use of smart daily contact lenses that will resolve this problem. Based on my experience, 90% of those suffering from dry eye successfully manage to wear total dailies 1 contact lenses for most of the day and even mentioned that they didn’t feel the lens.