In most cases, soft contact lenses are extremely comfortable to wear, even when first used. However, there are times that contact lens discomfort can occur. While they are usually not serious, it is important to be aware of some of the causes of this discomfort and when it may put your vision at risk.
Causes of Contact Lens Discomfort
There are a variety of causes for contact lens discomfort. In order for the lenses to work appropriately, proper care is crucial, including following the maintenance and replacement schedule outlined by your eye doctor. Using these guidelines, you can keep your eyes comfortable and healthy while you wear contact lenses.
If you fail to follow these guidelines for extended periods of time you can experience discomfort as well as a potential for serious vision problems.
There are some common signs of discomfort, which are not unusual for contact lens wearers. However, these may indicate that you are not caring properly for your contacts and should be addressed if they continue over a period of time.
- Burning, stinging, irritation, or other types of eye pain
- The comfort level may be less when the contact is first placed in the eye
- Excessive tearing
- Unusual secretions from the eye
- Eye redness
- Reduced visual acuity
- Rainbows, halos or blurred vision
- Photophobia, or sensitivity to light
- Dry eyes
If at any time you notice these symptoms, it is important to remove the lenses right away. If you notice that the discomfort or irritation stops when you remove the lens, you need to inspect the lens closely. If you notice any type of damage, the lens should not be placed back into your eye.
If there is no visible damage, look for any dirt, eyelashes or other foreign objects on the lens. Then clean, rinse and take time to disinfect the lens before returning it to your eye. If the problem or discomfort continues, the lens should be removed and you should contact your eye-care professional for help.
If any of the symptoms above are what you are experiencing and the lens is not damaged or dirty, it could be a signal that a more serious condition is present. These conditions include an infection, neovascularization, iritis or a corneal ulcer. It is important that you do not reinsert the lens until you seek medical treatment, otherwise you may cause serious and permanent damage to your eyes.
There are also other causes of contact lens discomfort, which are completely natural and typically do not present any serious risk to your eye health. In order to treat these conditions the lenses may have to be removed for a period of time; however, you should still take time to educate yourself about the causes of discomfort, and the steps you can take to eliminate them.
Each person’s eye, as well as their eye shape is completely unique, which means that the contact lens you have should be unique as well. When you are prescribed contact lenses, your eye care professional will perform a series of measurements that will ensure that the contact lens is fitting properly, however there are still instances when it can be off a bit.
Symptoms of a poor fitting lens include irritation or slight pain, fluctuations in vision, redness and feeling as if there is a foreign object in your eye. Treatment for a poor fit includes telling your eye doctor. They will be able to evaluate your situation and provide a better fitting lens. If you continue to wear an ill-fitting lens, it may lead to surface abrasions on the eye’s cornea.
Dry Eyes Associated to Contact Lens Use
If you suffer from dry eyes, you may not be able to produce enough tears to keep your eyes lubricated and moist. This can cause severe discomfort when wearing contact lenses. Dry eyes can be linked to medical conditions, or be present with certain other factors such as smoking, caffeine, use of the computer and certain medications.
The symptoms include discomfort, dry eyes and eyes that feel tired. The treatment for dry eyes that are associated to contact lens use is to first talk with your eye care professional who can recommend a quality rewetting/lubrication solution.
When you moisturize the soft contacts regularly, you will soothe your eyes and minimize the dryness of the lens, which will reduce and, in some cases, eliminate the discomfort you experience while wearing the lenses.
When there are a large number of environmental allergens your eyes may become irritated. Allergens such as dander and dust can actually stick to the surface of your lenses, which will cause irritation and discomfort.
Some symptoms of environmental allergen-caused discomfort include dryness, irritation and redness. The treatment for this is to frequently clean the lenses to remove any build up that may be present. If you continue to have issues with this problem, you may consider switching to a daily contact lens, so that a fresh pair is used each day.
Vision Damaging Risks
There are several serious risks that you are exposed to when you wear contact lenses including corneal blindness, corneal abscess, corneal opacity and corneal ulcers. Additionally, if you have an infection on or near the axis, a scar may be left, even if it heals. While a scar on the side will not affect the vision, a central cornea will harm your vision.
When you wear contacts you are covering the cornea of your eye, which is essentially stopping the supply of oxygen. Prolonged use of contacts can lead to small cuts made by the lens, dry eye and abrasions. Additionally, you will be at increased risk of infection, such as keratitis, which can lead to corneal scarring.
The fact is that when you put anything directly on your eye, including contact lenses, there is a chance that irritation may occur. If you are ready to say goodbye to your corrective glasses or contact lenses for good, consider taking daily eye vitamin supplements to keep your eyes strong and healthy.