Why Are My Contacts Uncomfortable?
Contact lenses are popular and convenient tools to help you see clearly. Although contacts should feel comfortable, sometimes they can cause discomfort and cause eye irritation even if you’re wearing and caring for them correctly.
Once you’ve adjusted to wearing contact lenses, you shouldn’t be able to feel them in your eyes. If your eyes don’t feel good or if you have blurry vision while wearing your lenses, stop wearing them and talk to your eye doctor. You can also try these eight ways to make them more comfortable.
1. Make Sure Your Contact Lenses Fit
Contact lenses that don’t fit correctly is the No. 1 complaint made by lens wearers. A properly fitting lens covers the whole cornea and moves a little when you blink.
If the lens moves too much, you could experience dry eye, irritation and itchiness. If it doesn’t move enough, your eyes could become red, and your vision could be blurry.
You should be able to wear your contact lenses comfortably for up to 12 hours.
2. Don’t Wear Your Contacts Inside Out
It’s possible that you could be wearing your lenses inside out. Here’s how to make sure that doesn’t happen:
- Put the lens on your finger so a bowl is formed.
- Hold the lens up and look at its side.
- If the lens forms a U shape with the top edges flared out, it’s inside out.
- If the lens edges don’t flare out, it’s in the right position.
3. Use Eye Drops
As a contact lens wearer, you’ve probably experienced dry eyes. Dry eye symptoms include a burning sensation, itchy eyes and tired eyes. Artificial tears can relieve occasional dryness.
Check with your eye doctor before using artificial tears because not all can be used safely with contacts. Certain brands can discolor or ruin your contacts.
And don’t use drops designed to get rid of redness. These drops shrink the tiny blood vessels that are on top of the white of the eye. This eliminates the redness but doesn’t treat dry eyes, and they can actually cause more harm than good.
4. Check Your Eye Care Routine
It’s critical to clean and disinfect your lenses regularly and properly:
- Wash your hands before putting in or taking out your contacts.
- Put solution on the lens and rub it gently to remove dirt, debris and build-up.
- Soak your contact lenses in the solution for the amount of time the directions recommend.
Use the Right Contact Lens Solution
For best results, use the brand of contact lens solution your eye doctor recommends that works for your type of contacts. Similar to eye drops, solutions or rewetting drops that aren't compatible with your contacts could damage them.
Even if you use the recommended contact lens solution, it might not work for you. Here are a few reasons why you may need to make a change:
- If the solution doesn’t clean your lenses enough, they can irritate or cause damage to the surface of your eye.
- Over time you can become sensitive to certain formulas, especially those with preservatives.
- Solutions do remove most deposits that build up on your lenses, but they can leave some, such as proteins, behind.
5. Examine Your Diet
You may be surprised to learn that your diet can affect how comfortable you are wearing contact lenses.
You need to produce enough tears to be comfortable wearing contact lenses. However, the amount of tears isn’t enough. Your body also needs to produce the right kind of tears.
Human tears are made up of lipid (oil), water and mucus. The lipid layer helps prefent your tears from drying up too quickly. If your tears don’t contain enough oil, they will evaporate too quickly and can cause dry eyes.
Omega-3 fatty acids can help produce the oily part of tears. Studies show that omega-3 fatty acids can help relieve and prevent dry eyes. Flaxseed oil and fish including salmon, sardines, herring and tuna are good sources of omega-3 fatty acids.
6. Consider Punctal Occlusion
Punctal occlusion is a procedure in which a tiny piece of silicone or acrylic called a punctual plug is inserted into your eyes’ puncta. This helps block the ducts that drain tears away from your eyes.
Blocking these ducts keeps more moisture on your eyes’ surface. Your eye doctor can use temporary, dissolving plugs to see if this procedure helps you get relief from uncomfortable contacts.
7. Try a Different Type of Contact Lens
If you’ve tried everything and you’re still dealing with uncomfortable contacts, your eye doctor may suggest you try a different type of lens or change up how long you wear your contacts.
Here are some types of lenses that may be better for you:
- Daily disposables. Deposits of protein and other debris can build up on your lenses and make contacts uncomfortable. If you choose daily disposable lenses, you’ll wear a new pair every day. These lenses are also a good option for people with allergies who are bothered by airborne allergens, such as pollen or dust, that can stick to lenses. Daily contact lenses are also a good option if your tears leave buildup on your contacts.
- Silicone hydrogels Oxygen and moisture help keep contact lenses comfortable. The combination of silicone and hydrogel in these lenses enables more oxygen to enter the eye than conventional soft (hydrogel) contact lenses. The eyes may stay moist longer too.
- Lenses with a different water content. Hydrogel and silicone hydrogel are plastics used to make soft contacts. They are hard when dry and become soft and gel-like when they absorb water. These contacts hold different amounts of water when fully hydrated. If your contacts are uncomfortable, ask your eye doctor about changing to lenses with a different water content.
- FDA-approved for dryness. There are soft contact lenses available today that are specifically designed to relieve dryness.
Orthokeratology (ortho-k) involves being fitted with gas permeable contact lenses designed specifically for your eyes. You wear the ortho-k lenses overnight, and they apply gentle pressure to reshape your corneas.
When you wake up and take the contacts out, you can see clearly and don’t have to wear contacts or glasses. The effect lasts one or two days, so it’s recommended that you wear these specialty contact lenses every night.
8. Give Your Eyes a Rest
Sometimes the best way to make contacts more comfortable is to take them out. Switch from your lenses to your eyeglasses from time to time to give your eyes a rest. You can soak your lenses in solution in their case while you’re wearing your glasses.
Your eye doctor can help make sure you have the best contact lenses for your vision and eye health. If you’re experiencing uncomfortable contacts, make an appointment for an eye exam.