Contact Lens Irritations and Vision Damaging Risks

Contact Lens Irritations and Vision Damaging Risks

If you wear contacts, you’ve been there. While most cases of wearing soft contact lenses are relatively uneventful, every so often you have a day where they just don’t feel right. Bad contact days are usually nothing to worry about, but once in a while, it’s a signal that something deeper is going on. It’s important to be aware of when contact lens irritation could put your vision at risk.  This will help protect and preserve your eye health down the line.

Causes and Symptoms of Contact Lens Discomfort

Contact Lens Irritations and Vision Damaging RisksThere 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. We’ve all been tempted to fall asleep in our contacts or to put off picking up more solution another day, but it’s best to always take your doctor’s recommendations seriously. Using these guidelines, you can keep your eyes comfortable and healthy while you wear contact lenses.

Failing to follow these guidelines can lead to discomfort as well as a potential for serious vision problems.

Some common signs of discomfort 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 the following:

  • Burning, stinging, irritation, or other types of eye pain
  • Contacts feel less comfortable when first inserted into 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

What is most important to remember is that if your contacts feel uncomfortable, take them out right away. First, take a close look at your lenses (you may need your glasses for this!). If you can see any damage, do not put the lenses back in your eyes.

This may seem obvious, but also take a moment to look for any dirt, eyelashes, or other foreign objects on the lens. Then, clean, rinse, and 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.

It’s important to contact your doctor at this stage because 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.

Of course, other causes of contact lens discomfort 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 short period of time, which is why it’s always good to have your glasses or a spare pair on hand. However, you should still take time to educate yourself about the causes of discomfort and the steps you can take to eliminate them. Let’s talk about some of the causes and solutions now.

Cause #1: Poor Fit

Each person’s eye, and the 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 prescribe a better-fitting lens. If you continue to wear an ill-fitting lens, it may lead to surface abrasions on the eye’s cornea and continued periods of discomfort

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.

If your eyes feel especially dry or tired, you may want to look at some moistening options.  The treatment for dry eyes that are associated with contact lenses is to first talk with your eye care professional. Then, they can recommend a quality rewetting/lubrication solution.

When you moisturize your 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 in the fall or spring, your eyes may become irritated. Allergens such as dander and dust can stick to the surface of your lenses, causing irritation and discomfort. This is also prevalent in the winter when the heat is on more often.

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.

Vision-Damaging Risks

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.

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  1. Avatar for Tyler Sorensen Devon M. says:

    Corneal Abyss? is it supposed to be corneal abscess?

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About the Author

Avatar for Tyler Sorensen

Tyler Sorensen is the President and CEO of Rebuild Your Vision. Formerly, Tyler studied Aeronautics (just like his brother) with the dream of becoming an airline pilot, however, after 9/11 his career path changed. After graduating top of his class with a Bachelor of Science in Informational Technologies and Administrative Management, he joined Rebuild Your Vision in 2002. With the guidance of many eye care professionals, including Behavioral Optometrists, Optometrists (O.D.), and Ophthalmologists (Eye M.D.), Tyler has spent nearly two decades studying the inner workings of the eye and conducting research.


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