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’s important to be aware of contact lens irritations and when they may put your vision at risk. This will help protect and preserve your eye health down the line.
Symptoms of Contact Lens Discomfort
There are a variety of causes for contact lens discomfort. For the lenses to work appropriately, proper care is crucial. That includes 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, 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. These signs include:
- 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
What to Do If Discomfort Occurs
If at any time you notice these symptoms, remove the lenses right away. If you notice that the discomfort stops when you remove the lens, you need to inspect them closely. The lenses should not be placed back into your eye if you notice any signs of damage.
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 the lens is not damaged or dirty, these signs could signal that a more serious condition is present. These conditions include 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 don’t present any serious risk to your eye health. In order to treat these conditions, the lenses may have to be removed for a period. However, you should still take time to educate yourself about the causes of discomfort and the steps you can take to eliminate them.
Cause #1: Poor Fit
Each person’s eye and shape of their eye 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. These tests 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 starts by seeing your eye doctor. They will be able to evaluate your situation and hopefully 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.
Cause #2: Dry Eyes Associated with 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 other factors such as smoking. Sometimes, caffeine, the use of the computer, and certain medications can also cause dry eyes.
The symptoms of dry eyes include discomfort, dryness, and tired eyes. The treatment for dry eyes that are associated to contact lens use is to first talk with your eye care professional. Then, they 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. This will reduce and, in some cases, eliminate the discomfort you experience while wearing the lenses.
Cause #3: Environmental Allergens
When there are a large number of environmental allergens, your eyes may become irritated. Allergens such as dander and dust can stick to the surface of your lenses, causing 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. With daily contacts, a fresh pair is used each day.
There are several serious risks that you are exposed to when you wear contact lenses. These include 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 scar 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 contact lenses for good, look for natural alternatives. Practice doing eye exercises every day. Then, improve your diet or consider taking daily eye vitamin supplements to keep your eyes strong and healthy.