On the Horizon: Natural Moisture for Your Contacts

By Kristin Bjornsen

For many of the 34 million people in the US who wear contacts, dry, itchy, red eyes can be an uncomfortable and unattractive side effect that causes them to give up entirely and reach for their glasses. Recently Canadian researchers at McMaster University figured out how to attach hyaluronic acid—the body’s natural lubricant—directly to contact lenses. Found in our skin and joints, hyaluronic acid is an extremely “water-loving substance whose function is to absorb H2O,” says lead researcher Heather Sheardown. “When attached to a lens, it creates a layer of water that moistens your eye.” And since the hyaluronic acid stays permanently attached to the lens, the moisturizing effects are long-lasting. Holistic ophthalmologist Robert Abel Jr., MD, in Delaware, says the new technology—which should be available in about two years—sounds promising, though only time will tell how well it works. In the meantime, Abel suggests these tips to keep your peepers happy:

Supplement with omega-3s (about 1,000 mg of DHA) daily, so your tears have enough oil in them and don’t evaporate as quickly.

“Eliminate artificial sweeteners, which overstimulates nerve endings in the eye, leading to irritation,” says Abel.

Remember to blink frequently, especially when looking at a computer screen, reading, or writing.

Use preservative-free artificial teardrops. Otherwise, you can develop allergies to the preservatives. Try homeopathic Optique 1 by Boiron.

Get a humidifier for your bedroom and office, and clean the vents in your home.