The 10 Best Contact Lenses for Dry Eyes of 2021

Sharpen (and moisten) your focus

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First Look

Best Overall: Bausch & Lomb ULTRA at 1800contacts.com

"The lenses’ MoistureSeal Technology helps them maintain 95% of their moisture for a full 16 hours."

Best Budget: CooperVision Biofinity Lenses at webeyecare.com

"Uses Aquaform Comfort Science technology to combine high oxygen performance with a naturally wet lens material."

Best For Screen Users: Biofinity Energys at aclens.com

"Made with Aquaform® Technology, the contacts help seal in moisture, even during times when you're not blinking as frequently."

Best Daily: Alcon Dailies Total1 at 1800contacts.com

"Uses a water gradient technology to create a cushion of moisture over the surface of your eye."

Best Transitional: ACUVUE OASYS with Transitions at discountcontactlenses.com

"Transition from light to dark within 90 seconds so you can move indoors and outdoors freely."

Best Weekly: Hydrogel Vision Extreme H2O at 1800contacts.com

"Their 54% water content is perfect for wearers with dry eyes."

Best Multifocal: Alcon Air Optix Aqua Multifocal at ezcontacts.com

"Contains different lens powers to accommodate both nearsighted and farsighted wearers."

Best for Astigmatism: Acuvue Oasys for Astigmatism at aclens.com

"Features Accelerated Stabilization Design to stop your lenses from rotating or falling out when you blink."

Best for Sensitive Eyes: Dailies AquaComfort Plus at ezcontacts.com

"The benefits of daily contacts, plus blink-activated moisturizing agents that keep your eyes wet all day."

Best Colored Contacts: Air Optix Colors at discountcontactlenses.com

"Built-in technology to keep moisture in and debris out."

Contact lenses are convenient, customizable, and adaptable to your lifestyle—but having dry eyes can turn wearing contacts into an extremely uncomfortable chore and make your routine particularly frustrating. If you’ve given up on your contact lenses because they weren’t compatible with your dry eyes, it’s possible you just didn’t have the right kind of lenses for your unique needs.

“Patients need to know that having dry eyes does not mean contact lenses are not an option,” says Rawzi Baik, M.D., an optometrist at Clarkson Eyecare in Cincinnati. “A lot has changed [and companies are] investing in new technologies to ensure better comfort and health in newer material and contact lenses.”

That said, finding the perfect lenses for your dry eyes means doing your consumer homework and there are actually several different things to consider when shopping for contacts as a dry eye sufferer. Figure out what your biggest priority is before you start looking. Maybe you need a pair that is targeted towards people with sensitive eyes, or a pair that helps relieve screen-related eye strain.

There are plenty of options on the market to suit every individual need, but here are a few of the best that will get you back to your routine without any irritation.

Our Top Picks

1

Best Overall: Bausch & Lomb ULTRA

Bausch + Lomb ULTRA

 Courtesy of Walgreens

Whether you’re nearsighted, farsighted, or have another refractive error, you deserve contact lenses that are comfortable to wear on your dry eyes. Bausch & Lomb’s ULTRA contact lenses are made from silicone hydrogel, which allows more oxygen to move through the lens and reach your eye.

The lenses’ MoistureSeal Technology helps them maintain 95% of their moisture for a full 16 hours. This plus their enhanced breathability make these lenses a great pick for anyone who works long hours at a computer or those with dry eyes struggling to find the perfect all-around lenses.

2

Best Budget: CooperVision Biofinity Lenses

Biofinity

 Courtesy of Walmart Contacts

CooperVision’s Biofinity Lenses offer an advanced level of comfort in an affordable, monthly contact lens. These lenses use Aquaform Comfort Science technology to combine high oxygen performance with a naturally wet lens material. The result is a pair of contacts that keep your eyes healthy, white, and moist all day long. The Biofinitys are also made from premium silicone hydrogel, but they’re a fraction of the cost of similar lenses.

3

Best For Screen Users: Biofinity Energys

Biofinity Energys

Regular screen users will love these hydrating contacts from Biofinity Energys. Made with Aquaform® Technology, the contacts help seal in moisture, even during times when you're not blinking as frequently (i.e., when using screens). Each box comes with six pairs, and AC Lens makes it easy to set up a repeated subscription so you're never short on contacts.

4

Best Daily: Alcon Dailies Total1

DAILIES TOTAL1

 Courtesy of 1800 Contacts

Daily contact lenses have a lot of advantages for people with dry eyes. For one, you don't have to worry about cleaning and storing them each night (improperly cleaning your contacts can lead to protein buildup on the lenses, which can aggravate dry eyes). Alcon’s Dailies Total1 disposable lenses are the contacts of choice for those who want the convenience and comfort of daily contacts.

These lenses use a water gradient technology to create a cushion of moisture over the surface of your eye. They have plenty of breathability for optimal comfort and a water content of 33%—ideal for lens wearers with dry eyes.

5

Best Transitional: ACUVUE OASYS with Transitions

ACUVUE

Keep your eyes hydrated while moving from light to dark with the ACUVUE OASYS with Transitions lenses. These lenses transition from light to dark within 90 seconds so you can move indoors and outdoors freely. They also block up to 15 percent of blue light indoors, so screen users can take solace in the fact that their eyes are protected in more ways than one.

6

Best Weekly: Hydrogel Vision Extreme H2O Soft Contact Lenses

Hydrogel Vision Extreme H2O Soft Contact Lenses

 Courtesy of 1800 Contacts

Disposable weekly contacts are another great option for people with dry eyes who want fresh contacts more than once a month but don’t want to shell out the extra cash for dailies. Hydrogel’s Vision Extreme lenses have an impressive water content and premium breathability for a comfortable fit all week long.

Hydrogel’s lenses can be worn for one or two weeks before you have to toss them out. Their 54% water content is perfect for wearers with dry eyes. The lens is also designed to balance moisture retention, and they’re ultra-durable, so they’re less likely to rip when you’re cleaning them.

Hydrogel fans said that these lenses reduced the redness and grittiness they experienced with dry eyes, and they liked the value and comfort of these weekly contacts.

7

Best Multifocal: Alcon Air Optix Aqua Multifocal

AIR OPTIX AQUA MULTIFOCAL

 Courtesy of EZ Contacts

Multifocal contact lenses contain different lens powers to accommodate both near and far vision deficits. They’re useful for people over 40 who frequently struggle with both nearsightedness and farsightedness. They offer a more gradual transition between near and far correction, as opposed to bifocals, which have a sharp transition between the two. Alcon’s Air Optix Aqua Multifocal Lenses are monthly contacts that correct near and far vision for dry eyes.

These contacts have a 33% water content, providing comfort for dry or gritty eyes. Their SmartShield Technology works to keep out irritating deposits, dust, and other particles while maintaining a premium level of moisture for dry eyes.

Reviewers with dry eyes said that these were the best multifocal contact lenses they’d ever worn, noting that the contacts felt moist and gave them clear vision throughout the day.

8

Best for Astigmatism: Acuvue Oasys for Astigmatism

Acuvue Oasys

 Courtesy of 1800 Contacts

Contact lenses aren’t out of the question just because you have astigmatism, a condition that occurs when your eye’s cornea or lens have an uneven curve. It can cause problems with both your near and far vision, and contact lenses can become very uncomfortable if you don’t find the right pair. Acuvue’s Oasys for Astigmatism are designed with both dry eyes and astigmatism in mind.

The Oasys for Astigmatism lenses use the company’s Accelerated Stabilization Design to stop your lenses from rotating or falling out when you blink. They also have a 38 percent water content to promote moisture, and the Hydraclear Plus technology works to keep your lenses wet and smooth.

9

Best for Sensitive Eyes: Dailies AquaComfort Plus

Dailies Aqua Comfort Plus

 Courtesy of EZ Contacts

Wearing contacts with dry eyes is tough, but it’s even tougher if your eyes are extra sensitive. You might experience excessive redness, itchiness from allergies, and a gritty feeling throughout the day—and wearing the wrong contacts can make your situation even worse.

Dailies AquaComfort Plus lenses have all of the benefits of daily contacts, plus blink-activated moisturizing agents that keep your eyes wet all day. The agents are made from ingredients that are commonly found in eye drops.

Still struggling with dry, sensitive eyes after a long day on your laptop? Take a look at our product reviews for the Best Blue-Light Blocking Glasses—they can help relieve eye strain related to screen time.

10

Best Colored Contacts: Air Optix Colors

Air Optix Colors

 Courtesy of 1800 Contacts

Colored contacts are a fun way to change your look in a few seconds. They’re great for Halloween, parties, or just boosting your daily style. Finding a pair that caters to dry eyes isn’t easy, but Air Optix Colors lenses are designed to keep moisture in and debris out.

SmartShield Technology works to protect against protein surface deposits that build up over time, which can aggravate dry eyes. They come in subtle shades like Gray and Honey, or attention-grabbing hues like Amethyst and Gemstone Green.

Our writers spent 6.5 hours researching the most popular contact lenses on the market. Before making their final recommendations, they considered 19 different contact lenses overall, screened options from 11 different brands and manufacturers, read over 27 user reviews (both positive and negative), and tested 0 of the contact lenses themselves. All of this research adds up to recommendations you can trust.

Final Verdict

Having dry eyes doesn’t mean you can’t wear contacts, but you do have to find the right kind for you. This often involves working closely with an eye care professional to make sure you get an optimal fit and replacement schedule. When shopping on your own, look for lenses with less than 40 percent water content, a high oxygen permeability, and a silicone hydrogel construction. If you're looking to start with lenses that will cover all the basics, Bausch & Lomb ULTRA are a great choice to start with. But if you want to find a pair that fit your budget (after all, you'll likely need to buy these more than once), CooperVision Biofinity Lenses are a good choice.

What to Look for in Contacts for Dry Eyes

Oxygen Permeability

Contact lenses cover the cornea of your eye, which can contribute to discomfort if your eyes tend to be drier than average. Contacts that have a high oxygen diffusion, though, let more oxygen reach the cornea.

“The most important factor to look at is the permeability of the contact lens, [or the Dk/t measurement],” says Yuna Rapoport, M.D., director of Manhattan Eye in New York City. “This takes into account the material of the contact lens as well as the thickness of the lens [and] directly reflects the oxygen permeability of the contact itself.” 

According to Dr. Rapoport, the higher the Dk/T, the more permeable the lens—and the more oxygen that gets through to the cornea. This is a good thing for people with dry eyes, because more oxygen means more comfort overall.

Fit

One downside to shopping for contacts online is that it can be hard to make sure the lenses you’ve purchased really fit your eyes. Eye care providers take careful measurements during eye exams, including the base curve and diameter of your cornea, and include these measurements in your prescription.

Patients with dry eyes, however, may need more trial and error—under the supervision of a professional—to find the exact right fit. “An improperly fitting contact lens, even if it is the correct prescription, will make your eyes feel uncomfortable,” warns Dr. Rapoport. 

Brad Brocwell, M.D., optometrist and vice president of clinical operations for Now Optics, agrees: “Fitting contact lenses can be complicated—if you are suffering from the symptoms of dry eye, don’t be afraid to discuss it with your eyecare professional...they will help determine which contact lens is best for you.” 

Water Content

Contact lenses are made partially of water, but the amount of water is different between lens styles. High water content lenses (made of more than 50 percent water) are thicker, while low water content lenses (made with less than 50 percent water) are thinner.

While you might assume more water equals more hydration—and that high water content contacts are better for dry eyes—but it's actually the other way around.

“The higher water content lenses may worsen the sensation of dryness, because they can draw water away from the eye,” explains Dr. Brocwell. “Generally, lower water content lenses are more comfortable for patients suffering from dry eyes.”

Dry eye sufferers should look for contacts made with about 40 percent or less water, to prevent this moisture-wicking effect. 

Frequent Replacement

One of the biggest culprits of dryness when it comes to contacts is environmental buildup; the more gunk, essentially, on your lenses (whether it’s pollen, bacteria, or proteins and lipids from your own tears), the more irritation they’ll cause your already-sensitive eyes, according to Dr. Baik.

One way around this, says Dr. Baik, is to use shorter replacement lenses—in particular, dailies. 

“Daily disposable lenses benefit patients by reducing the buildup of deposits,” he says. “This approach may also aid patients with allergies and blepharitis.” 

“Fitting contact lenses can be complicated—if you are suffering from the symptoms of dry eye, don’t be afraid to discuss it with your eyecare professional. They will help determine which contact lens is best for you.”—Brad Brocwell, M.D., optometrist and vice president of clinical operations for Now Optics

Why Trust Verywell Health?

Abby Stassen’s writing has been featured in the Orlando Weekly and Windermere Scene magazines. Abby went to the University of Michigan where she earned a bachelor’s degree in English Language & Literature.

Additional reporting for this story by Sarah Bradley

Sarah Bradley has been writing health content since 2017—everything from product roundups and illness FAQs to nutrition explainers and the dish on diet trends. She knows how important it is to receive trustworthy and expert-approved advice about over-the-counter products that manage everyday health conditions, from GI issues and allergies to chronic headaches and joint pain.

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Article Sources
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  1. Hadassah, J., & Sehgal, P. (2006, August 21). A novel method to measure oxygen permeability and transmissibility of contact lenses. Retrieved February 04, 2021, from https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/j.1444-0938.2006.00080.x

  2. Day C. How to read your glasses and contacts prescription: Coastal. Coastal . https://www.coastal.com/thelook/how-to-read-glasses-contact-lens-prescriptions/. Published September 9, 2019.

  3. Nichols JJ, Sinnott LT. Tear film, contact lens, and patient-related factors associated with contact lens-related dry eyeInvest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2006;47(4):1319-1328.

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