Contact lens wearers are particularly susceptible to dry eyes. However, specific advice is required when recommending over-the-counter products, because some are incompatible with different types of contact lenses.
Particular care should be taken with products containing preservatives, which can be absorbed by soft contact lenses, eventually causing irritation and discoloration. Many preservative-free products can be used while the patient is wearing contact lenses. Other formulations may need to be applied around 15 minutes before contact lenses can be inserted.
Liposomal sprays may be a suitable alternative for patients who wear contact lenses. Spray formulations are applied to closed eyes and are suitable for use while wearing contact lenses.
Patients reporting regular discomfort while wearing their contact lenses should visit their optometrist. Contact lenses come in many different varieties, including the material, replacement frequency and cleaning solution, so it may be possible to change the lenses to reduce dryness. Changing lenses can be more effective than managing the symptoms using over-the-counter treatments.
Example: Advising a patient who wears contact lenses
A patient enters your pharmacy and appears to be looking for something.
Pharmacy technician: Hi there, can I help at all?
Patient: Yes please. I’m looking for your eyecare section?
Pharmacy technician: Yes, I’ll show you where it is. Do you know exactly what you are looking for?
Patient: No, not exactly. I’ve started wearing contact lenses recently and my eyes have been really dry. I wondered if there was anything I could do to make them feel less dry?
Pharmacy technician: That is a common complaint for patients who wear contact lenses, and there are few different products you can use to help. When are your symptoms worse?
Patient: All day really, although they are quite bad in the evening after I have been wearing my lenses all day.
Pharmacy technician: Ok. These drops can be used during the day while you are wearing your contact lenses. They are single-dose and don’t contain preservatives, so make sure you use the whole dose in one go. Liposomal sprays are a useful alternative to eye drops. They are easy to apply. You would need to hold the spray about 10cm away from the eyes, which should be closed, and press the spray. You then need to keep your eyes closed for a few seconds and then open them and blink a few times.
Patient:Great, thank you.
Pharmacy technician: You can also try this ointment, which you can apply before you go to bed. It may make your vision a little blurry, and you shouldn’t use it until you have removed your contact lenses.
Patient: That would be great, I’ll take both. Thank you for all your help.