Over 30 million Americans wear contact lenses (“Contact Lenses: Fast Facts”), but many are unaware of the relationship between contacts and dry eye disease.
Dry eye disease can present as a wide range of symptoms, including feelings of dryness, grittiness, irritation, or simply tired eyes. Many people assume that they have to stop wearing contacts in order to experience relief from these symptoms.
However, a recent study conducted by Marc R. Bloomenstein, OD, FAAO, has found that use of punctum plugs may reduce symptoms associated with dry eye disease in contact lens wearers.
Punctal occlusion therapy involves the insertion of a tiny, biocompatible device into a patient’s lacrimal tear duct, which blocks the drainage of tears from the eye. Occlusion therapy may be a useful alternative for contact lens wearers who have tried using eye drops and other therapies but failed to find sufficient relief.
The patients in Dr. Bloomenstein’s study not only experienced less contact lens discomfort throughout the day, but also benefited from increased sharpness of vision. Remarkably, “At the conclusion of the study…90 percent of [patients] chose to undergo additional punctal occlusion.”
As Dr. Karpecki, OD, FAAO, states in the video below, “Contact lens wearers that begin to show early signs of dry eye disease tend to be an ideal candidate for occlusion therapy.”
Paragon BioTeck, Inc., has developed a line of absorbable and non-absorbable punctum plugs to provide occlusion therapy for the treatment of symptoms associated with dry eye disease, which may result from allergies, cataracts, or contact lens intolerance. Patients who are unsure whether occlusion therapy is right for them should talk with their eye doctor.
Dry eye symptoms are the leading reason why people choose to stop wearing contact lenses (Heiting 2015), but punctum plugs may be a valid remedial option that can provide both temporary and long-term relief.
Paul Karpecki, OD, FAAO, is a nationally recognized leader and pioneer in dry eye disease and Clinician at the OSD Center at Gaddie Eye Centers in Louisville, Kentucky.
- “Contact Lenses: Fast Facts.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.” January 22, 2015.
- Bloomstein, Marc R., OD, FAAO. “http://optometrytimes.modernmedicine.com/optometrytimes/content/tags/contact-lens/punctal-occlusion-may-improve-visual-acuity-contact-lens-paPunctal occlusion may improve visual acuity for contact lens patients.” Optometry Times. July 1, 2014
- Heiting, Garym OD. “Contact Lenses for Dry Eyes.” All About Vision. May 2015.