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Chronic dry eye is a common condition that affects millions of contact lens wearers. It can be so severe that it becomes uncomfortable or difficult for a person to wear their lenses.

Dry eyes affect around 16 million Americans every year.

In addition to pain or discomfort, dry eyes can cause burning, stinging, redness, or blurry vision.

Eye doctors have traditionally considered that people with dry eyes may not be good candidates for wearing contact lenses. However, due to new technology, there is now a range of contact lenses suitable for people with dry eyes.

A quick look at the best contact lenses for dry eyes

Dry eye is a condition that causes people to have scratchy, stingy, and red eyes. It is very common, and can affect people of all ages.

Those that need to wear contact lenses may find that they make their dry eyes more uncomfortable. However, there are a range of contact lenses that may be suitable for people with dry eyes.

People should consider different types of contact lenses, depending on the cause of dry eye. Options to look at can include:

  • Soft lenses: Soft contacts may be better for people with chronic dry eye. The materials used in soft contacts are made to hold water and allow oxygen to pass through the lens to let the eyes breathe.
  • Rigid gas permeable (RGP) lenses: These lenses are sometimes called “hard” lenses. They allow oxygen to pass through to the eye. Scleral lenses are a specific type of RGP lens that reduces the amount of contact the lens has on the eye, which may reduce the risk of irritation.
  • Water content: Contact lenses have varying levels of wetness. Contacts with higher water content may be less comfortable for dry eyes because they can lose moisture to the environment and absorb water from tears, meaning they have less lubricating effects on the eyes. As such, people with dry eyes may benefit from contact lenses with a lower water content, such as HEMA lenses.
  • Silicone hydrogels: These contact lenses are more porous than other contacts and let more oxygen pass through to the surface of the eye. Although they can be more expensive than other contacts, these lenses might be more comfortable for someone with dry eyes.
  • Replacement frequency: Some research suggests that replacing contacts daily can be beneficial for people with dry eyes.

Medical News Today chooses the best contacts for dry eyes based on the following criteria, where possible:

  • Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval: All companies require FDA approval. This ensures that the contact lens brands are safe to use.
  • Prescription: All companies require a valid prescription to order contact lenses.
  • Duration of wear: Companies offer a range of contact lenses suitable for daily, weekly, or monthly wear.
  • Product quality: The company manufactures contact lenses using safe and comfortable materials.

There are many different types and brands of contact lenses. It may be necessary to try several different kinds of lenses before finding one that is comfortable.

Below are some of the best options available to order online.

Please note that the writer of this article has not tried these products. All information presented is purely research-based and correct at the time of publication.

Medical News Today follows a strict product selection and vetting process. Learn more here.

Best for easily irritated eyes: ProClear 1 Day

  • Price: around $62 per box
  • Lens type: daily disposable soft lenses
  • Material: PC hydrogel
  • Best for: people whose eyes get easily irritated by contact lenses
  • Pro: FDA-approved health claims, aspheric shape
  • Con: high water content (62%), not suitable for astigmatism

These contact lenses feature a unique material that helps bind water to its surface. This reportedly keeps the lenses moist.

The company claims that the contacts can provide comfort for people who experience mild discomfort or dryness symptoms while wearing contact lenses. The manufacturer, CooperVision, states the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved this claim.

These lenses are designed with an aspheric shape. This allows more light to enter to the eye.

The ProClear Sphere also line includes multifocal lenses and monthly supply packs.

A person can order the ProClear 1 Day lenses online for about $62 per box. A person can choose a 3-, 6-, or 12-month supply.

Best breathable: Biofinity

  • Price: around $46 per box
  • Lens type: monthly soft lenses
  • Material: silicone hydrogel
  • Best for: people who want monthly lenses
  • Pros: lower water content than other lenses (48%), increases oxygen flow through lenses
  • Cons: provides just six lenses per box

These contact lenses use a silicone hydrogen material. They are especially designed to allow oxygen to pass through the lens to the eye.

The company writes that it uses a patented technology, Aquaform™, which uses oxygen and water to create soft and flexible lenses.

The Biofinity lines also includes multifocal lenses, and lenses designed for people with astigmatism.

A person can order the Biofinity lenses online for about $46 per box. A person can choose from a 6- or 12-month supply.

Best for UV protection: Acuvue Oasys

  • Price: around $77 per box
  • Lens type: bi-weekly soft lenses
  • Material: silicone hydrogel
  • Best for: people looking for UV protection
  • Pros: lower water content than other lenses (38%), provides UV protection, wetting agent built into the lenses
  • Cons: expensive

The material used in these lenses combines a wetting agent with the contact lens formula. The Hydraclear technology aims to mimic the function of the tear film, which the manufacturer writes reduces the feeling of tired eyes.

The company writes that these lenses provide ultraviolet (UV) light protection against the sun’s rays.

The lenses also have a visibility tint that helps with inserting and removing the lenses.

The Acuvue Oasys line also includes daily lenses, as well as lenses designed for astigmatism and presbyopia.

A person can order the Acuvue Oasys lenses online for about $77 per box. A person can choose from a 6- or 12-month supply.

Learn more about Acuvue Oasys lenses.

Best for extended wear: Air Optix Plus Hydraglyde

  • Price: around $55 per box
  • Lens type: monthly soft lenses
  • Material: silicone hydrogel
  • Best for: extended wear
  • Pros: specialist design to prevent buildup, keeps eyes hydrated for up to 16 hours, lower water content than other lenses (33%)
  • Cons: may cause side mild side effects

These contact lenses aim to keep eyes moist for up to 16 hours of wear with its Hydraglyde moisture matrix technology. This is a thin layer of moisture that reportedly helps lenses remain comfortable.

They also feature a patented technology that helps to repel buildup and retain moisture.

A person can wear these lenses for up to 16 hours for 6 days at a time or for shorter periods of time daily.

However, the company warns that these lenses can cause mild burning, stinging, or discomfort.

The Air Optix Plus Hydraglyde line also includes multifocal lenses, as well as lenses designed for astigmatism.

A person can order the AirOptix lenses online for about $55 per box. A person can choose a 6- or 12-month supply.

Best for high water content: Bausch + Lomb Biotrue

  • Price: around $64
  • Lens type: daily disposable soft lenses
  • Material: hydrogel
  • Best for: people who work at night or in darker environments
  • Pros: UV protection
  • Cons: more expensive than other brands, high water content (78%)

These lenses have a 78% water content and aim to replicate the eye’s natural water levels.

Bausch + Lomb writes that these lenses have HD optics that keep vision crisp, clear, and blur-free in both dim and bright light. This may be beneficial for people who work at night or in darker environments.

The Biotrue line also includes lenses designed for astigmatism and presbyopia.

A person can order the Biotrue ONEday lenses online for about $64 per box. A person can choose from a 3-, 6-, or 12-month supply.

Best for digital devices: Bausch + Lomb Ultra

  • Price: around $56 per box
  • Lens type: monthly soft lenses
  • Material: silicone hydrogel
  • Best for: people who need to wear lenses over an extended period
  • Pros: can be worn for a long time, lower water content (46%), visibility tint for easier application
  • Cons: not available as daily disposable lenses

Bausch + Lomb uses its MoistureSeal® technology to keep these lenses hydrated over long periods of time. The company states these lenses are designed for people who use digital devices.

Research shows that using digital screens contributes to dry eyes by reducing a person’s blink rate.

These lenses aim to keep the eyes hydrated and oxygenated throughout the day.

The Ultra line also includes lenses designed for people with astigmatism and presbyopia.

A person can order the Bausch + Lomb Ultra lenses online for about $56 per box. They can choose from a 6- or 12-month supply.

Best water gradient lenses: Alcon Dailies Total 1

  • Price: around $105 per box
  • Lens type: daily disposable soft lenses
  • Material: silicone hydrogel
  • Best for: people looking for highly lubricated lenses
  • Pros: high levels of lubrication, suitable for long hours of wear
  • Cons: expensive

These are water gradient lenses with a 33% water content at the lens core. The company writes that this transitions to up to 80% water content on the surface of the lens.

This technology aims to significantly reduce the discomfort people can experience while wearing contact lenses for extended periods of time by lubricating the lens so the eyelid can slide over it smoothly.

The Dailies Total 1 line also includes multifocal lenses.

A person can order the Alcon Dailies Total 1 lens online for about $105 per box. A person can choose from a 3-, 6-, or 12-month supply.

Best for allergy-prone eyes: 1-day Acuvue Moist

  • Price: about $39 per box
  • Lens type: daily disposable soft lenses
  • Material: etafilcon hydrogel
  • Best for: people with sensitive eyes
  • Pros: more affordable than other brands, blocks a high percentage of UVA and UVB rays
  • Cons: cannot be worn for longer than a day

Acuvue writes these lenses have a 58% water content and are made with materials and a wetting agent that emulates tears.

The company writes these lenses are suitable for people with easily irritated, allergy-prone eyes.

Acuvue also claims these lenses can block up to 82% of UVA and 97% of UVB rays.

They come with visibility tints and indicators to help users insert and remove the lenses easily.

The 1-day Acuvue Moist line also includes multifocal lenses and lenses designed for astigmatism.

A person can order the 1-day Acuvue Moist lenses online for about $39 per box. They can choose from a 1-, 3-, or 6-month supply.

Best affordable lenses: Waldo Hydra Boost Plus

  • Price: around $27 per box
  • Lens type: daily disposable soft lenses
  • Material: etafilcon hydrogel
  • Best for: people who have tired-feeling eyes
  • Pros: affordable, may reduce inflammation, added vitamins for eye health
  • Cons: company does not back up claims with studies

These lenses feature a 58% water content and B12-infused saline. The vitamin solution aims to reduce inflammation and comfort tired eyes.

The company claims it can reduce redness by 97% and eyestrain by 40%. However, the company does not back up these claims with independent scientific studies.

The lenses have tapered, smooth edges for additional comfort.

A person can order the Waldo Hydra Boost Plus lenses online for about $27 per box. They can choose a 1-, 3-, or 6-month supply.

Best for new lens wearers: X-Cel Extreme H2O 54%

  • Price: around $39 per box
  • Lens type: bi-weekly soft lenses
  • Material: hioxifilcon D
  • Best for: people who would like to try new lenses
  • Pros: the company replaces and exchanges lenses, high water retention technology
  • Cons: not sold as widely as other brands online

The manufacturer of these lenses, X-Cel, claims that its patented GMA/hydrogel copolymer hioxifilcon D technology allows the lenses to retain 97% of their moisture. The lenses are designed with a 54% water content.

With 1-800 Contacts, a person can exchange any unused lenses and get torn lenses replaced for free. This may suit people who are new to wearing contact lenses and would like to try out different brands or those who are not used to taking them in and out and may damage them.

The Extreme H2O line also includes daily and monthly lenses, different widths, and lenses designed for astigmatism.

A person can order the Extreme H2O 54% lenses online for about $39 per box.

The table below compares each of the contact lenses in this article for their price, materials, and main features.

Type Main featuresMaterialsWater contentPrice
ProClear 1 Daydaily• aspheric shape for vision clarityPC hydrogel62%around $62 per box
Biofinitymonthly• increases oxygen flow

• soft and flexible lenses
silicone hydrogel48%around $46 per box
Acuvue Oasysbi-weekly• UV protection

• combined wetting agent and lens solution

• visibility tint
silicone hydrogel38%around $77 per box
Air Optix Plus Hydraglydemonthly• suitable for 16 hours of wear

• repels build-up
silicone hydrogel33%around $55 per box
Bausch + Lomb Biotrue ONEdaydaily• UV protection

• suitable for dim conditions
hydrogel78%around $64
Bausch + Lomb Ultramonthly• suitable long wear

• designed for digital screen use
silicone hydrogel46%around $56 per box
Alcon Dailies Total 1daily• water gradient lenses

• highly lubricated lens surface
silicone hydrogel33%around $105 per box
1-day Acuvue Moistdaily• wetting agent mimics tears

• high UVA and UVB protection

• insertion indicators
etafilcon hydrogel58%around $39 per box
Waldo Hydra Boost Plusdaily• affordable price

• vitamin saline solution
etafilcon hydrogel58%around $27 per box
Extreme H20 54%biweekly
• high water retention

• company exchanges unused lenses

• company replaces torn lenses for free
hioxifilcon D54%around $39 per box

  • Price: The price of contact lenses varies considerably between brands. A person should consider how often they will need to wear their lenses and whether they need to be replaced every day before making a purchase. Some companies offer 3-, 6-, or 12-month subscription services for people who need regular deliveries, which may provide a discount.
  • Pack size: Most companies state that a product contains 1–6 months’ supply of contacts. However, this time frame may vary depending on whether a person needs different types of contacts for each eye.
  • Duration of wear: Some contact lenses need to be replaced daily, while others can be replaced once a month. Certain brands are FDA-approved for wear during sleep. However, this may not be safe for all brands. A person should consider their personal needs, preferences, and their budget before making a purchase.
  • Water content: Choosing contact lenses that will moisturize the eyes over a long period of time is important for people with dry eyes. Different brands make lenses with varying water content percentages. A person may wish to choose lenses with a lower water content if they have dry eyes.
  • Prescription: Some brands offer contact lenses that are suitable for stronger prescriptions. A person should check that their chosen company will supply lenses that match their prescription.

There is a range of other options a person can consider to improve their dry eyes, discussed below.

Lifestyle changes

A person should see a doctor if they experience dry eyes. Once the doctor has ruled out a more serious condition or a medical reason for their dry eyes, there are things that can be done at home to help manage them.

This can include:

  • avoiding environments that make dry eyes worse, such as smoky, windy, or air-conditioned spaces
  • using a humidifier
  • reduce screen use
  • wearing sunglasses when outside
  • drinking 8–10 glasses of water per day
  • sleeping for 7–8 hours each night

Omega-3 supplements

Although there are claims that omega-3 can help improve dry eye symptoms, there is a lack of scientific evidence to support this claim.

For instance, 2018 work states that evidence for omega-3 supplements being useful for dry eye is inconsistent.

This is echoed by a study from the National Institutes of Health that concluded that omega-3 fatty acid supplements did not improve dry eye when compared to a placebo.

Eye drops

Eye drops are essentially artificial tears and are available with or without a prescription. They can be applied quickly and easily and can be very efficient at lubricating dry eyes.

There are many different types of eye drops, so it is important for people to select the right product. They may include:

  • Preservative-free: Preservative-free eye drops are good for people who regularly use artificial tears or people who are sensitive to preservatives.
  • Preservative: Eye drops with preservatives can be suitable for people who do not use artificial tears regularly.

Though eye drops can provide temporary relief, it is important to note that there are no drops available that can completely eliminate dry eye for the entire day.

To make sure their contact lenses stay comfortable all day, a person may need to apply the eye drops frequently.

Putting eye drops into the eye before inserting the contact lenses may be helpful to some people with dry eye.

However, not all eye drops are suitable for use with contact lenses in the eyes. Many drops require a person to remove their contact lenses before using the drops.

Learn more about the best eye drops for dry eyes.

There are a number of reasons why a person might experience dry eyes. Wearing contact lenses puts a person at risk of experiencing dry eyes.

The National Eye Institute writes that the following may contribute to dry eyes:

  • a person’s glands do not make enough tears
  • tears dry up too quickly
  • tears are not effective in keeping the eyes wet

Additionally, it lists medication, windy, smoky, or dry environments, screen use, and health conditions including diabetes, lupus, and Sjögren syndrome, as possible causes of dry eyes.

A 2022 review found that dry eyes are more frequent in older females, but increased age is a common cause of dry eyes across the sexes.

The authors hypothesize that in younger people, a higher rate of incomplete blinks may contribute to dry eyes.

An optometrist or eye specialist can help determine the cause of a person’s dry eyes.

Risks

Persistent dry eyes can increase the risk of several complications, including:

A 2020 review notes that dry eyes can increase the chance of low quality sleep, along with difficulties in concentration and memory.

A person can choose from a wide range of lens solutions to clean and care for their contact lenses. These may include the following types of solutions:

  • hydrogen peroxide
  • multipurpose
  • saline
  • enzymatic protein removers
  • rigid gas permeable care systems

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) writes that using contact lens solutions to clean and disinfect lenses is essential for preventing infection. It advises that a person should speak with an eye doctor to determine which cleaning solution will be best for them.

Learn more about the best lens care solutions.

Getting regular eye exams is important for preserving eye health. If a person experiences dry eyes, they should speak with a doctor to discuss potential causes and treatments.

Individuals should seek medical advice when:

  • they have difficulty keeping their eyes open
  • they experience changes in their vision
  • over-the-counter treatments are not improving symptoms
  • other symptoms develop, including fatigue, joint pain, and muscle aches

If a person develops other symptoms alongside dry eyes, they may have an underlying condition.

Below, we answer some common questions about contacts for dry eyes.

What type of contacts are best for dry eyes?

A person should work with a doctor to determine which lenses will be best for them, as this can vary depending on a person’s prescription, the cause of their dry eyes, and any health conditions or allergies they have.

Can a person with dry eyes wear contacts?

Yes. However, it is important that people with dry eyes work with a doctor to find the most appropriate contact lenses for them to make sure they do not make their symptoms worse.

Are dailies or monthlies better for dry eyes?

People with dry eyes may prefer daily contact lenses. This is because long-term wear can irritate the eyes and make symptoms worse.

Users should speak with a doctor to help them choose the best contact lenses for them. They should also ensure they clean and dispose of used contact lenses safely.

Do contacts make dry eyes worse?

It is possible for contact lenses to make dry eyes worse. This is because poor-fitting contact lenses can irritate the eyes. How long a person wears their contacts, how often they change them, and how they look after them between wear may also influence how comfortable they are.

However, there is a wide range of contact lenses that are suitable for dry eyes. A person should carefully research contact lenses before trying them, working with a doctor to get advice.

Dry eye is a very common condition affecting millions of Americans every year.

People may think that they cannot wear contact lenses if they have dry eyes, but new technology has led to a wide range of products that are suitable for people with this condition.

Buyers may wish to consider the water content, materials, and price of contact lenses before making a purchase. They should get advice from a doctor before trying new contact lenses to make sure they are safe to use and will not make their symptoms worse.