Soft contact lenses are generally comfortable from the beginning of use. Contact lens discomfort can occur but is usually easily remedied.

Inserting a soft contact lens

What Causes Contact Lens Discomfort?

Contact lens discomfort can occur for a variety of reasons. In order for contact lenses to work the way they’re supposed to, it’s important to care for them properly, following the maintenance and replacement schedule recommended by your eye care professional. These guidelines help to keep your eyes healthy and comfortable in contact lenses. If they’re not followed, problems with vision, comfort and other safety issues can occur.

You should be aware that the following problems may occur:

  • Eyes stinging, burning, itching (irritation), or other eye pain
  • Comfort is less than when lens was first placed on eye
  • Abnormal feeling of something in the eye (foreign body, scratched area)
  • Excessive watering (tearing) of the eyes
  • Unusual eye secretions
  • Redness of the eyes
  • Reduced sharpness of vision (poor visual acuity)
  • Blurred vision, rainbows, or halos around objects
  • Sensitivity to light (photophobia)
  • Dry eyes

If you notice any of the above symptoms:

Immediately remove your lenses.

If the discomfort or problem stops, then look closely at the lens. If the lens is damaged in any way, do not put the lens back on your eye. Place the lens in the storage case and contact your eye care professional. If the lens has dirt, an eyelash, or other foreign body on it, or the problem stops and the lens appears undamaged, you should thoroughly clean, rinse, and disinfect the lenses; then reinsert them. After reinsertion, if the problem continues, you should immediately remove the lenses and consult your eye care professional.

If the above symptoms continue after removal of the lens, or upon reinsertion of a new lens, a serious condition such as infection, corneal ulcer, neovascularization, or iritis may be present. You should keep the lens off your eye and seek immediate professional identification of the problem and prompt treatment to avoid serious eye damage.

Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations, cleaning your lenses with each use, and replacing them on the schedule your eye care professional recommended for you. This is the best way to ensure your lenses stay comfortable and your eyes stay healthy.

Poor Fit

Your eye’s size and shape are unique to you, and your contact lenses should be too. Your eye care professional performs a variety of measurements to make sure your contact lens is well-fitting.

Contact Lens Associated Dry Eyes

People with dry eyes may not produce enough tears to keep eyes moist and lubricated. This may create discomfort when they wear contact lenses. Dry eyes may be inherent (associated with a number of medical conditions), or acquired (linked with risk factors such as smoking, computer use, caffeine, certain medications, and more).

Environmental Allergens

Your eyes may become irritated when there are large amounts of environmental allergens such as dust or dander. These allergens can stick to the surface of lenses, causing irritation for the wearer.

Underlying Conditions

Irritation in your eyes may not come from your contact lenses at all. If your eyes become red, swollen, or if you experience discharge, you should contact an eye care professional immediately. Your symptoms may be a result of infection, or underlying disease and should be diagnosed and treated as soon as possible. You should not wear contact lenses if you have an eye infection or while using certain topical eye medications.


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