Can People With Glaucoma Wear Contact Lenses?

July 25, 2011

Glaucoma is an eye condition in which one's optic nerve is damaged and destroyed over time. Most commonly, glaucoma can be attributed to increased eye pressure as a result of drainage blockage. Other causes of glaucoma include poor blood supply to the optic nerve fibers, weak nerve structure, or a deficiency in the nerve fibers.

If you have been diagnosed with glaucoma, you are likely to already be experiencing vision problems. You may have already been prescribed corrective lenses. If you are new to wearing glasses, or even if you've worn glasses for a lifetime, you may wonder if you're eligible to wear contact lenses.

The Good News

Over the past 40 years, corrective contact lenses have seen tremendous improvements. Because of this, almost anyone can use contacts to correct their vision - including many people who suffer from glaucoma. Today's contact lenses come in both hard lens and soft lens forms.

- Hard (Rigid) Lenses

Modern rigid lenses allow oxygen to pass through them in order to reach the eye. This newer version of the hard lens is generally tolerated well, even by some people with glaucoma. New developments in rigid lenses include a bifocal feature, which provides correction for both nearsightedness and farsightedness. If you think rigid lenses might be a viable option for you, it is very important that you consult with a contact lens specialist. When you see the contact lens specialist to determine if rigid lenses are right for you, make sure to mention that you have been diagnosed with glaucoma.

- Soft Lenses

Soft contact lenses have become enormously popular because of their comfortable fit. In many cases, soft prescription contact lenses can also be worn for extended periods of time. Soft contact lenses have also been worn by many glaucoma patients with little to no consequence whatsoever. Again, it is important to note that if you think soft contact lenses may be appropriate for you, it is crucial that you see an ophthalmologist that specializes in contact lenses and/or glaucoma first.

The Bad News

Topical eye treatments are the most common form of medication used in the early stages of glaucoma. What does this mean? Two words: eye drops. Most doctors will prescribe several types of eye drops to treat glaucoma. You will likely be applying eye drops every single day or as much as several times a day. Unfortunately, skipping one or more doses can cause further damage to the optic nerve. What does this mean to potential users of corrective contact lenses?


Before you start using prescription contact lenses, be sure to find out if the medication contained in your eye drops can possibly interact with the contact lenses. The most common interaction that can take place is that the preservative in some glaucoma eye drops can be absorbed into certain types of lenses, leading to intolerance of contact lenses. The best way to ward off the risk of harmful interaction is to keep your contact lens specialist apprised of your glaucoma diagnosis and treatment.

In conclusion, corrective contact lenses are a great option for people who need vision problems such as nearsightedness, farsightedness or astigmatism corrected. Even people who have been diagnosed with glaucoma may be able to experience the freedom and comfort that prescription contact lenses offer. The key to wearing contact lenses when you have been diagnosed with glaucoma is to discuss any possible problems or any interactions your glaucoma treatment may have with the lenses with your contact lens specialist.

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