TL;DR: Dry eye symptoms are common in half of all contact lens wearers. Increased at-home compliance with a dry eye therapy effectively improves symptoms and overall wellbeing. Poor patient compliance has remained the #1 complaint of eye doctors – but with a user-centric approach to wake up and wind down rituals, at-home routines can effectively improve symptoms, overall wellbeing, and compliance.
This week, we’re exploring the relationship between contact lenses and digital strain symptoms – including dry eyes, poor sleep and stress – and an at-home routine to help you feel better.
Do you, or does someone you know, wear contact lenses and ever comment on how their contacts are “Drying their eyes out”? Or how they have to take their contact lenses out earlier and earlier in the day lately? Or maybe that they are rubbing their eyes to try to improve that dry, scratchy feeling in the mid-afternoon?
Not to mention, we all care to some degree about our appearance, and for some wearing contact lenses means feeling good about themselves and improving their self esteem.
It’s a common complaint, particularly for those having to use screens for much of their day. These types of digital eye strain symptoms can set in after only 2 hours of using digital devices. Regularly wearing contact lenses can make those symptoms worse.
We have known for decades that contact lenses can cause dry eye symptoms.
Eye discomfort and dryness are particularly common in regular contact lens users, with approximately 50% of wearers reporting these symptoms.
Alarmingly, this is at least double that reported by people of similar age who do not use contact lenses.
These symptoms are also more commonly reported later in the day, which may be consistent with some of the concerns listed above.
Mechanism and Diagnosis
Mechanistically, contact lens–related dry eye can be explained by the tear film on your eyes becoming thinner after wearing contacts.
Other mechanisms include using high-water-content lenses, which can actually further dry your eyes out and feel less comfortable, compared to lower-water-content lenses.
Moreover, the cornea (the front of your eyeball) receives oxygen directly from the air. The barrier formed by contact lenses can, over the course of the day, deprive the cornea of oxygen, making the eyes feel gritty or dry.
Contact lens-related dry eye is also more commonly reported in women than men.
This finding may be due to various hormonal factors (menstruation, oral contraceptive use, menopause, etc.), or to women being more likely to report symptoms of disease than men.
Diagnosing contact lens-related dryness remains an important challenge. This dryness isn’t technically a disease per se, but rather a symptomatic condition that responds to changes in contact lens materials, lens care products, or discontinued use.
The Contact Lens Dry Eye Questionnaire-8 (CLDEQ-8) was developed for exactly this purpose: to measure dry eye symptoms related to contact lens wear.
It is an effective and reliable way to distinguish contact lens-related dry eye specifically, and is an efficient screening tool given its brevity.
An Effective, At-Home Solution
REST was designed to be an easy-to-implement routine for better eye health and wellness. Portable and rechargeable, it heats up to therapeutic temperatures for eye relief and sleep promotion; cools down to reduce inflammation and produce tears; and vibrates to massage oil glands and guide user breathing.
REST is used for 2-10 minutes, 1-2x daily, ideally first thing in the morning and right before sleeping. Given its portability, people can easily travel with REST and have a quick few minute session as needed to give their eyes and minds a restorative boost at any time.
At the beginning of 2022, we conducted a nation-wide study of 500 working-from-home employees across Canada.
We gave them their own REST device to use however they liked for 6 weeks, provided support and guidance while tracking usage, and administered well-validated scientific questionnaires (including the CLDEQ-8) at the beginning and end of the 6 weeks.
We found participants were regularly using REST daily or more, showing strong compliance at home. 90% of those who reported usage after 4 weeks used REST at least once a week. 67% used it at least once a day.
The Benefits of a Daily Wellness Habit
Regular REST usage resulted in significant improvements to eye health, sleep, and stress across the population, and was particularly effective in our contact lens wearers.
After using REST for 6 weeks, our contact lens wearers reported significant improvements to contact lens comfort:
We also looked at contact lens data beyond that captured by the CLDEQ-8. Among contact lens wearers in particular:
The combination of enhanced at-home compliance, on-demand relief, and a holistic approach to wellness that addresses eyes, sleep, and mental wellbeing all together is a remarkably effective approach to improve contact lens-related dry eye symptoms and overall quality of life.
REST helps people to be more comfortable while wearing contact lenses, while helping them make space for routine relaxation and hygiene. Just like brushing our teeth before bed, using REST after removing your contact lenses helps to form a healthy habit that sticks, and that you can feel good about.