Contact Lenses & Glaucoma

There are a number of eye conditions that can affect your suitability for contacts, and Glaucoma is one of them. Affecting more elderly patients, this condition is progressive and degenerative, and can be quite debilitating in the long run if not treated properly. People with glaucoma often suffer from a more traditional visual issue like short or farsightedness, and some may be keen to use contacts, but can they?

What is Glaucoma?

The part of the eye affected during glaucoma is called the optic nerve. This is a structure coming out of the back of the eye and towards the brain, carrying with it a signal from your eye that your brain interprets as vision. During glaucoma the optic nerve is damaged, and the extent of this damage determines how badly your vision is affected. The condition tends to be degenerative, meaning that it worsens as time goes by.

The causes of glaucoma vary, but the most common is probably because of changes in something called intra-ocular pressure. Your eye has a distinctive spherical shape which is maintained by this pressure, and a change therein can result in damage to the optic nerve. Other causes include a weakness in the nerve or the fibres that make it up which make them susceptible to damage or poor blood supply to the structure.

Glaucoma and contact lenses

As mentioned above, many of those with glaucoma suffer from other visual disturbances which can be treated by corrective lenses. The use of contact lenses to this end is perfectly fine amongst glaucoma patients, but it is important to note that corrective lenses are not a treatment for the condition itself.

Both soft lenses, known for their comfort, and rigid gas permeable lenses, which allow more oxygen through to the eye, are suitable for anyone suffering from glaucoma. Which is more suited to your eyes and your needs is up to you and your optician, but generally speaking most types of contacts that are available are fine to use.

Unfortunately the caveat in this area is that the first stage in the treatment of glaucoma often makes use of eye drops which can react adversely with your lens or the fluids on its surface. Some contacts can absorb a preservative in some treatment eye drops, resulting in an intolerance of the lens. Similarly some eye drops can cause dryness or irritation which makes wearing contact lenses uncomfortable. This is why it is so important to consult an optician experienced in these matters about which kinds of contact lenses would work with your medication best.

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