Most rosacea patients who exhibit signs and symptoms of ocular rosacea can still safely wear contact lenses, according to a recent article in Review of Ophthalmology by Dr. Mark Mannis, chairman of ophthalmology at the University of California-Davis.1 He emphasized that if eye doctors take steps to minimize inflammation of the eyelid and the eye itself and to stabilize the tear film prior to fitting the lenses, ocular rosacea patients should not suffer any discomfort or damage to the eye surface.
"Both gas permeable and soft contact lenses are options for patients with rosacea," Dr. Mannis said. He noted that gas permeable lenses cause less stress to the tear supply and are smaller, so they allow for greater tear exchange and debris removal. In addition, the cornea receives two to three times the amount of oxygen compared to most soft contact lenses.
On the other hand, soft contacts are gentler on the eye, but can "steal" fluid from the eye surface. Dr. Mannis advised that rosacea patients choosing soft contacts are best served with loosely fitting, low water content lenses that maximize spreading of tears across the eye surface. Frequent replacement also helps to reduce oil and protein buildup on the lens.
He noted that with either type of lens, the use of artificial tears can increase the amount of time patients can comfortably wear their contacts.
- Mannis MJ, Barnet M. Contact lens wear in the rosacea patient. Review of Ophthalmology. 2006;13:09.