Eye irritation from contacts: causes and remedies
Contact lenses can be an ideal alternative to glasses for those who are active and want to maintain sharp vision while not sacrificing convenience. It requires little maintenance to keep them clean, and unlike glasses, they do not require constant cleaning from smudges and dirt. Contact lens wearers are likely to suffer from eye irritation sooner or later. This level of discomfort can range from mild irritation to serious, potentially sight-threatening infections.
Common causes of contact lens irritation
If your eyes are frequently red, sore, or swollen after wearing contact lenses, you probably suffer from contact lens irritation. Contact lens irritation can also cause dry eyes, conjunctivitis, blurred vision, and a persistent feeling of something in your eye (more than just that contact lens!). Before it becomes worse, here are some possible causes and solutions to contact lens irritation:
Improper care or use of contact lenses
"Contact lenses, especially soft lenses, are delicate and should be cared for as recommended by the manufacturer,” says Dr. Joe Wende, Medical Director for ContactsDirect. “Failing to clean your contact lenses properly, letting them dry out, or not washing your hands before inserting them can all result in contact lens discomfort and irritation.” Common items you handle daily such as perfume, hair products, and makeup, can transfer onto your contact lenses just from normal wear. These products can cause problems leading to dry, itchy, irritated eyes. Your contact lenses should never be worn by anyone else, as this can transfer bacteria.
Your eye size and shape are unique to you, and the same goes for your contacts. Your eye doctor performs a variety of measurements, to make sure your contact lenses fit your eyes. However, sometimes the fit can be a little off. If you constantly suffer from slight pain, irritation, redness, fluctuations in vision, or feel like a foreign object is in your eye—your contacts may fit incorrectly.
Sometimes only one eye is fitted improperly, causing contact lens irritation on one side. Whether it is both eyes or one eye, tell your eye care professional, and they will perform more tests to ensure the fit is correct. Improper fit of your contacts can lead to more serious damage, like abrasion to the cornea.
Wearing contact lenses too long
There are several different types of contact lenses, ranging from those designed to be worn for a few hours, to brands that can be safely worn overnight. Wearing your contact lenses for longer than the recommended period can cause irritation, dry eyes, and discomfort. If you are wearing your lenses for extended periods, or constantly have dry eyes, check out our selection of the best contacts for dry eyes.
Wearing contact lenses that are past their expiration date can also cause problems, including bacterial infections. It is best to get in the habit of wearing and replacing your contact lenses as frequently as recommended by your eye doctor.
Your eyes may become irritated when there are large amounts of environmental allergens, such as dust, dander, and even pollen in the atmosphere. These allergens can stick to the surface of the lenses and irritate your eye. Some symptoms of this are eye redness, irritation, and dryness. If seasonal allergies affect your eyes, remember to remove your contact lenses before using eye drops not intended for contact lens use. Then wait 15-20 minutes before inserting your lenses.
Eye infections from contact lenses
Eye infections caused by the bacteria and other organisms on contact lenses or in your contact lens solutions can be quite serious. If left untreated, an eye infection could be sight-threatening. See an eye doctor as soon as possible if you think you may have an eye infection.
Remedies for contact lens irritation and discomfort
In the event of eye discomfort and irritation, there are several things you can do to avoid infection. Caring for your contact lenses and using them as directed will help you avoid many problems.
If all else fails—consult your eye care provider. Changing your contact lenses or updating your prescription may be necessary to relieve lingering irritation. It is always best to see an eye care professional when you feel something is incorrect with your vision.
Frequent cleaning is crucial to remove any buildup that occurs on the lenses. If problems persist, switching to a daily disposable contact lens brand provides a new pair of lenses for fresh eyes.