Can I Use Eye Drops with My Contacts?

by May 22, 2022

A common question among contact lens wearers is whether or not it is safe to use eye drops while wearing their contact lenses. The answer depends on the type of eye drop!


Why Do Contact Lenses Matter When Using Drops?

Before it is possible to explain which eye drops can be used safely with contact lenses, it is important to know why wearing contact lenses is a concern at all for eye drops.

A contact lens has the potential to absorb the eye drop into the contact lens and cause a decrease in efficacy initially while also prolonging the exposure to the eye drop and its components.

In many cases, this is doubly detrimental as the intended effect of the eye drop is negated to some degree while any unwanted side effects are prolonged and enhanced.

It is also worth considering if the eye drop will harm the contact lens or change it in any way. Some eye drops are slightly acidic, slightly basic, or contain dyes which can damage a contact lens if applied directly to the contact lens.


Types of Eye Drops That Can be Used with Contact Lenses

While there are many eye drops that should not be used with contact lenses, there are also several which have been designed to be used with contacts on the eye.

Notably, there are many artificial tears or lubricating eye drops which are made without any preservatives or other chemicals which can absorb into the contact lens.

These eye drops are marketed as “preservative free” or “for contacts” to indicate the safety to use with contact lenses.


Types of Eye Drops That Cannot be Used with Contact Lenses

Nearly all prescription and most over-the-counter eye drops are designed to be used without contact lenses on the eye.

These eye drops include antibiotic drops, steroid eye drops, anti-allergy eye drops, and glaucoma treatment eye drops.

Contact lenses may not cause an adverse reaction with every one of these eye drops, but there has not been enough research done to be able to say that it is safe to use these drops with contact lenses on the eye.

There are several eye drops which are known to cause problems when used with contact lenses and are often indicated as such.


Are there Any Contact Lens Solutions that can be Used as Eye Drops?

For many people, when considering what can safely be used with contact lenses, the first thing that comes to mind is the cleaning or storage solution that stores the contact lenses overnight.

While this solution is safe to soak or clean the contact lenses, it should not be used as an eye drop while wearing contact lenses.

These solutions are designed to sanitize the contact lens and have the lens removed from the solution before putting the contact on the eye.

Since the contact lens solution is not designed to ever be applied directly into the eye, it can be toxic or harmful to the eye if used directly on the eye or on a contact while it is on the eye.


Our eye doctors at EyeDocs Family Eye Care in Brookville, OH excel in prescription of glasses, contact lenses and the diagnosis of a variety of eye diseases. Call our optometrists at 937-770-1265 or schedule an eye exam appointment online if you have any questions or concerns about using eye drops with your contact lenses. Our eye doctors, Dr. Kyle Maxam and Dr. Cara Wampler, provide the highest quality optometry services and eye exams in Brookville, Ohio.

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