Millions of Americans have a love hate relationship with their contact lenses. Contacts offer freedom from glasses and protection from harmful UV light. However, if contact lens wear becomes uncomfortable, they can turn from your best friend to your worst enemy. Let’s break down the most common problems associated with contact lens discomfort and when to seek the help of a professional.
Chronic redness: “My eyes are always red when I wear my contacts.” Is the most common complaint I hear. Redness is a sign of inflammation. Often these contact lens users take poor care of their lenses. Forgetting to change out lenses in the proper time frame or using the same case of solution for multiple days. In this case following proper contact lens care protocol will eliminate the redness.
If you are a responsible contact lens wearer and you still have chronic red eyes you likely have Dry Eye. Over the counter artificial tears used throughout the day can eliminate the redness. Make sure to choose preservative free drops or drops designed to be used with contact lenses. Try to avoid any drops which promise to eliminate redness. These drops will only exacerbate the problem. If you cannot control the redness with over the counter drops consult your Eye Care Provider for additional Dry Eye therapy options.
Lens awareness: “I can feel my contacts.” Is another complaint I come across frequently. This is often associated with Ocular Allergy. Itching is another symptom. Oral antihistamines can be helpful as well as artificial tears. Changing your contact lens solution brands can be beneficial. When possible the manufacturer of your contacts should match the manufacturer of your contact lens solution. This offers the best synergy between contact lens design and comfort. Generic solutions may disrupt that synergy and lead to lens deposits and early breakdown of your contact lenses. Contact lens wearers that suffer from allergies all year round may benefit in switching to a single use contact lens brand.
Painful eye: It should never be painful to wear your contact lenses. If a lens is hurting your eye remove it immediately. Inspect the lens for cracks, breaks or deposits. If none of these are visible rinse both the eye and the lens and try again. If pain continues do NOT continue to wear the contact lens. Ulcerations, bacterial infections and abrasions are common causes of painful eye in contact lens wearers. All of these conditions should be treated by an Eye Care Professional.
Keep your contact lens relationship harmonious. Follow proper lens care instructions. Pay attention to and treat chronic symptoms early on. Love your eyes and you will be able to maintain your contact lens relationship for years to come.
Doctor Cameron owns and manages Cameron Optical in Montgomery, Texas. See our ad in this issue for details.