Can artificial tears be safely used to re-wet contact lenses?
In some cases, eye drops that are designed to treat dry eyes may have formulations that are incompatible with contact lens wear. For this reason, contact lens wearers are well-advised to use only the contact lens solutions specifically recommended by their optometrist or ophthalmologist.
But a new study conducted by Allergan (Irvine, Calif.) has found that one of the company’s artificial tear products appears to work well as a contact lens lubricant. In fact, when compared with Allergan’s own brand of contact lens rewetting drops, the artificial tear actually outperformed the rewetting drop at improving contact lens comfort.
In the study, 166 contact lens wearers were randomly assigned to use the artificial tear product (Refresh Optive) and 79 wearers received the contact lens rewetting drop (Refresh Contacts). All subjects were instructed to use 1 to 2 drops of their respective product four times per day for three months.
At the end of the study period, among subjects who reported using contact lens rewetting drops prior to the study, more subjects that switched to using the Refresh Optive artificial tears during the study reported improvement in contact lens comfort than those who used the Refresh Contacts rewetting drops (53.2 percent vs. 34.2 percent).
But the researchers warned that contact lens wearers should not rush out and purchase the Refresh Optive product just yet for contact lens discomfort.
Contact lens care products are required to carry specific labeling, indicating that the product has been approved by the FDA for use in conjunction with contact lens wear.
Based on the results of the study, Allergan says it plans to investigate developing a new contact lens rewetting drop with a formulation similar to Refresh Optive, which is more viscous than Refresh Contacts.
SOURCE: Artificial tear studied as contact lens lubricant. Ophthalmology Times. February 15, 2010.