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Can You Wear Contact Lenses If You Have Glaucoma?

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a woman with glaucoma holds a contact lens on her finger

If you have been diagnosed with glaucoma, you probably already have vision issues. Maybe you’ve already had corrective glasses recommended to you. If you have never worn glasses before or even if you have, you may be wondering if you can comfortably wear contact lenses.

The severity of your condition and the recommended course of therapy will determine whether contacts are right for you. You have to follow your eye doctor’s recommendation on what’s best for you and your eyes.

Glaucoma

Glaucoma is an eye disease that can cause optic nerve damage. The optic nerve transmits visual information from your eyes to your brain.

Although it’s not always the case, abnormally high pressure inside your eye might cause glaucoma. Your optic nerve tissue degrades over time as a result of the increasing pressure, which can cause vision loss or even blindness. Early detection will allow you to stop or slow down further eyesight loss.

You should get yearly eye exams so that your ophthalmologist, or eye specialist, can keep track of any changes in your vision. If you experience any of the following symptoms, see your eye doctor immediately:

  • Intense eye pain
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Eye burning
  • Abrupt vision problems
  • Observing bands of color surrounding lights
  • Sudden vision haze

The loss of eyesight first affects the borders of the visual field before gradually affecting the center. The symptoms may not appear for months or even years after the nerve injury has happened. Once lost, vision cannot be regained.

There are many different types of glaucoma, some examples include:

  • Open-angle glaucoma
  • Angle-closure glaucoma
  • Low or normal-tension glaucoma
  • Congenital glaucoma

Open Angle Glaucoma

Open-angle glaucoma is the most prevalent form of the disease. Except for progressive vision loss, it shows no indicators or symptoms. This kind is brought on by harm to the filter in the drainage canals of the eye.

Angle Closure Glaucoma

Acute angle-closure glaucoma is a type of glaucoma that causes noticeable symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, and halos around lights. This is due to a rapid buildup of pressure in the eye. 

Low or Normal-Tension Glaucoma

People with normal eye pressure occasionally experience optic nerve damage. This type of glaucoma may be caused by extreme sensitivity or a lack of blood flow to your optic nerve.

Congenital Glaucoma

Congenital glaucoma is a condition in young children in which a defect in the angle of the eye prevents or delays normal fluid drainage. Symptoms of congenital glaucoma frequently include cloudy eyes, excessive tearing, or sensitivity to light.

close up image of a foggy eye with glaucoma

Contact Lenses & Glaucoma

Corrective contact lenses have advanced significantly over the years. As a result, virtually anyone can use contacts to improve their eyesight, including many glaucoma sufferers.

Discuss Your Eye Drop Medication

Find out if your eye drops medication could potentially interact with your prescription contact lenses before you start wearing them. The preservative in some glaucoma eye drops can absorb into some types of lenses, which can cause an intolerance to contact lenses. 

This is the most frequent issue that can occur. Keeping your contact lens specialist informed of your glaucoma diagnosis and treatment is the safest approach to reduce the possibility of future problems.

Types of Contacts

There are various types of contact lenses that you may use if you have glaucoma. Rigid gas-permeable (hard) contacts allow oxygen to enter the eye and thus improve eye health. Soft contact lenses, on the other hand, provide greater comfort and can be worn for extended periods. 

In general, gas-permeable contact lenses are preferred by ophthalmologists in glaucoma patients, while soft contact lenses are less frequently recommended. 

Medication Dispensing Contacts

Glaucoma patients may soon have access to contact lenses that can dispense medication, which could greatly enhance their quality of life.  Glaucoma medication is slowly released onto the surface of the eye by a contact lens developed by US researchers. 

Although early trials are encouraging, more study is required before these contact lenses can be purchased over the counter.

Contacts After Glaucoma Surgery

In addition to eye drops, there are several treatments for glaucoma, such as:

  • Laser therapy
  • Filtering surgery
  • Placement of drainage tubes
  • Minimally invasive glaucoma surgery

If you need glaucoma surgery, you won’t be able to use contact lenses to correct your vision until your eyes have recovered.

Book an Appointment with Your Eye Doctor

Depending on the severity of your condition and the type of treatment you’re receiving, it may be possible for you to continue wearing contact lenses even with a glaucoma diagnosis. 

Before making any decisions, it’s crucial to seek medical advice from your eye doctor to ensure you have all of the facts about your current eye health. Book your appointment today with EyeZone Nevada to discuss the best options for you.

Written by Daniel Rowan

Reno optometrist, Dr. Daniel Rowan, was raised in Western Canada and attended Norwich University in Vermont on a hockey scholarship. After obtaining a Bachelor of Science degree in both biology and sports medicine, he received his Doctor of Optometry (OD) degree from the New York College of Optometry in 2001. He performed rotations in a Queens VA hospital, specializing in glaucoma care, and an outpatient eye clinic in the Bronx. Immediately after graduating, he moved to Nevada and is now considered a top Reno optometrist. He is a member of the American Optometric Association and is board-certified by the National Board of Examiners in Optometry for the treatment and management of ocular diseases.
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