If you experience dry eyes when you wear contact lenses, you're in good company. Contact lenses thin the protective layer of tears that normally covers the surface of your eyes, which makes tears evaporate more quickly and causes irritating dryness for 50 percent of wearers.

That eye dryness can blur your vision and boost the risks for eye infection. Dry eyes also prompt some wearers to pop out their lenses earlier than they’d like and leads up to one in eight lens users to quit wearing contacts altogether. Here, how to soothe those dry eyes.

What Causes Dry Eyes in Contact Wearers

In addition to the effects that contact lenses themselves have on the eyes' tear layer, decongestant medications as well as drugs for depression, high blood pressure, prostate problems, and glaucoma can also cause dryness.

The effects of aging also increases the likelihood of dry eyes. That's because as we get older, our eyes produce fewer tears. And those tears we do produce contain lower levels of soothing and protective oils than they once did.

How to Ease Dry Eye Symptoms

To reduce dryness, use rewetting drops or artificial tears as directed by your eye doctor. Only 47 percent of contact lens wearers do this, even though these over-the-counter products can increase the tear layer that contact lenses sit on, thus reducing irritation.

Cleaning and disinfecting your lenses as recommended, and replacing soft lenses frequently can also make wearing contacts more comfortable.  

Can These Products Help Dry Eyes?

Some contact lens manufacturers advertise that their products offer “comfort” features that will ease dry eyes. These features include higher levels of wetting agents and lens materials that retain more water, and do so for a longer period of time.

But a 2013 report from an international conference of eye experts noted that research doesn’t conclusively show how well such features work or which may be best. The expert report also said that good lens fit is important for comfort.

Currently, the Food and Drug Administration only allows one brand—CooperVision, for its Proclear lenses—to make the claim that it may improve comfort for those with dry eyes.