Eye Irritation from Contacts: Causes and Solutions
If you've been wearing contact lenses for any length of time, you've likely experienced some level of irritation at some point. This level of discomfort can range from mild eye irritation from contacts, to serious and potentially sight-threatening infections.
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 consistent feeling that there is something in your eye (more than just that contact lens!). Before any irritation 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,” sais 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 and lead to dry, itchy, irritated eyes. Contact lenses also 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 or irritation, redness, fluctuations in vision, or you feel as if a foreign object is in your eye, your contacts may be fit incorrectly. Sometimes only one eye is fitted improperly and causes 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 make sure 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 time period can cause irritation and discomfort. 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 are able to stick to the surface of the lenses and cause irritation. Some symptoms of this are eye redness, irritation and dryness. Frequent cleaning is crucial to remove any buildup that occurs on the lenses. If problems persist, switching to a daily disposable contact lens brand can provide a fresh pair of lenses every day. If seasonal allergies are affecting your eyes, be sure to remove your contact lenses before using eye drops that aren't specifically intended for use with contact lenses.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, so it's important to see an eye doctor as soon as possible if you think you may have an eye infection.
Thankfully, if you experience eye irritation and discomfort, there are plenty of things you can do to avoid an infection. Caring for your contact lenses and using them as directed will help you avoid many problems, including infection. If all else fails—consult your eye care provider as a change in the type of contact lenses or getting your prescription updated 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.
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