However, contact lenses can also cause inflammation, pain, and dry eyes, according to Dr. Eric D. Donnenfeld, MD, FACS.
"More than fifteen percent of people suffer from a problem called contact lens intolerance, where discomfort and dryness is so great, they have to give up their lenses," says Dr. Donnenfeld, a board-certified ophthalmologist, clinical professor of ophthalmology at New York University, and past president of the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery.
In addition, contact lens wearers run the risk of serious eye infections. A recent report published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stated that approximately 20 percent of infections associated with contact lens wear led to serious eye damage.
"Many of my own patients are upset and frustrated because they can no longer wear contact lenses," says Dr. Donnenfeld. However, several new treatment approaches, including an eyelid cleanser called Avenova, can help, he says.
"The most common cause of contact lens intolerance is dry eye, which occurs when the eye doesn't have a sufficient film of protective tears," Dr. Donnenfeld explains. "That problem, in turn, is caused or exacerbated by bacteria and tiny parasitic mites that live on the eyelids. The microbes not only irritate sensitive eye tissue, causing pain and inflammation (and, sometimes, serious eye infections), they also make enzymes that break down a crucial oil layer that protects the tear film," he says. Avenova with Neutrox, from NovaBay Pharmaceuticals, has become Dr. Donnenfeld's first line therapy of choice for managing the bacteria associated with chronic dry eye.
Avenova "inactivates the bacterial enzymes, helping to stabilize the tear film and improve comfort. So far, every single one of my patients suffering from contact lens intolerance or other chronic eye conditions has been helped by simple twice-daily wipes with Avenova. It truly is a breakthrough," Dr. Donnenfeld says.
Two additional devices can be used to help make contact lens use more comfortable: a new device called LipiFlow applies heat and controlled pressure to the inner eyelid, unblocking the glands that produce the crucial oil; and another device, called BlephEx, deep cleans the lid margins with a disposable sponge, Dr. Donnenfeld says.
Visit Avenova.com for more information about appropriate eye and eyelid hygiene products.