Soft contact lenses are generally comfortable from the beginning of use. Contact lens discomfort can occur but is usually easily remedied.
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. 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.
When any of the above problems occur, 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.
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 the fit of your contact lens is well-fitting, but sometimes, it may be a little off.
Symptoms: Feeling a foreign object in the eye, slight pain or irritation, redness, fluctuations in vision
Treatment: Tell your eye care professional – they will reexamine your eyes and lens selection to give you a better fit. This is important, as improperly fit lenses may cause surface abrasions to the cornea.
Contact Lens Associated Dry Eyes
People with dry eyes may not produce enough tears to keep eyes moist and lubricated. This creates 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).
Symptoms: Tired eyes, dry eyes, and discomfort
Treatments: Your eye care professional may recommend a lubricating/rewetting solution for your use. Moisturize your soft contact lenses to soothe your eyes and minimize lens dryness and discomfort while wearing them with a lubricating and rewetting drop. It’s important to find a drop that’s compatible with your contact lenses.
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.
Symptoms: Redness, irritation, dryness
Treatments: Frequent cleaning is crucial to remove any buildup that may occur on lenses. If problems persist, switching to a daily disposable modality can provide a fresh pair of lenses every day. If it’s seasonal allergies that are affecting your eyes, be sure to remove your contact lenses before using an eye drop that isn't specifically intended for use with contact lenses and wait 15-20 minutes before inserting your lenses.
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.