Contact Lens Irritation

InfoMED Answers

What is your age?
What is your gender?
Have long have you worn contact lenses?
Less than one year
What type of contact lenses do you wear?
Soft Contact Lenses
How often do you change your contact lenses?
Do you sleep with your contact lenses?
Are your eyes frequently red?
Which statement describes your situation?
One eye is bothering me
Is this eye painful and/or sensitive to light?
Do you have any of the following eye problems?
Have you been diagnosed with any of the following conditions?
Dry Eye
Do you wear any of the following lenses?
Oasys (Acuvue)
What methods have you tried to help your contact lens problem?
Rewetting drops
How many times a day do you use the rewetting drops?
Do you look at a computer screen at least 2 hours a day?
Are you a smoker?
Do you work or live in a smoky environment?
Can you afford to spend $500 more a year on contact lens care?

InfoMED Results

You state that your eye(s) are painful and/or light sensitive. This could be a serious problem and you should see an ophthalmologist. Below are some of the more common problems that can cause this in contact lens wearers.

You may have a corneal ulcer in your eye. Pain and light sensitivity are typical symptoms. This can be
a sight-threatening problem. You should see an ophthalmologist as soon as possible. Do not wear your contact lenses, rather put on your glasses.This problem is much more common in patients who sleep with contact lenses. Please stop doing so. Not only it is healthier for your eyes, but it will also save you money.

There is a condition called EKC (Epidemic Keratoconjunctivitis) that is commonly seen in contact lens wearers. It is a virus in the eye that can blur the vision. It usually lasts for 1-3 weeks but sometimes it can hang around for months. It is highly contagious but rarely - if ever - sight threatening. Remove you contact lenses and see an ophthalmologist. It is usually treated with mild steroid drops. If light sensitivity is more of a problem than pain, EKC is more likely than a corneal ulcer, but only a eye doctor can tell for sure. Click here to Learn More About EKC.

You may have overwear syndrome. This is when the contact lens scratches the front of your eye. It can be quite painful. The treatment is to remove the contact lens, apply tear drops and patch the eye if necessary. The eye usually heals in 1-3 days.

Your contact lens may be torn. Look at it carefully and see if this is the case.

You have dry eyes. For many patients in your situation, you have to ask yourself, "How much grief and expense are you willing to go through to wear contact lenses?" If you are willing to persist, you can probably wear lenses. Based on your responses, the following suggestions may be helpful:

You are using rewetting drops. You state that you use them 5 times a day or less. If you are like most patients, you only use them when your eyes feel dry. Try using them on a regular basis, whether or not you have symptoms. This often works.

Please do not sleep with the lenses - even if the FDA (the government agency in the United States) says that you can. Not only does this make your eyes more uncomfortable, it greatly increases the risk for eye infections, especially sight-threatening corneal ulcers. The fact that the government approved these lenses was merely a lobbying triumph for the contact lens industry.

You have itchy eyes and deny having hay fever. You may have a condition called GPC (Giant Papillary Conjunctivitis). Don't worry. It is not as bad as it sounds. It is an allergic reaction to your contact lenses, something that all contact lens wearers have to some extent. Most do not have symptoms though until the allergic reaction reaches a certain threshold.GPC can combine with your dry eyes to make you quite miserable. The best treatment of GPC is to stop wearing your contact lenses until the itch and the redness are gone. An over-the-counter anti-histamine drop called Zaditor taken 3 times a day is quite effective in quickly reducing your symptoms. Once your are comfortable, try wearing your contacts 4 hours a day and increase your time gradually over a 2-4 week period. The goal is to get your allergic reaction decreased to the point where you no longer have symptoms. Try not to wear you contact lenses every waking hour though, or the GPC will return. Most patients find a combination of Zaditor and contact lens wear that keeps their symptoms to a minimum.Obviously, when you resume your lenses, follow the dry eye recommendations mentioned above.A mild steroid drop such as Lotemax or Alrex may decrease your symptoms quickly but a prescription from an eye doctor is necessary. Click here to Learn More About GPC.

The following factors could be adding to you contact lens irritation:

Poorly fitting contact lenses. This is less of a problem today because contact lens technology has greatly improved and fitting is easier.

The human eye was not designed to look at a computer screen all day. Studies have shown that patients with this activity decrease their blink rate by 50%. Although it is not easy to do, try to blink you eyes frequently when using the computer.

Below are some other factors and information based on your responses that may be helpful in addressing your contact lens irritation problem:

Use common sense with your contacts. Do not wear them if your eyes are red or irritated.

There are different types of eye doctors and which type of doctor you go to often depends on the nature of your problem. Optometrists are doctors who are trained in fitting glasses and contact lenses. Some are trained in treating eye diseases but optometrists do not do surgery. Ophthalmologists are medical doctors who specialize in eye diseases and surgery. Most can fit glasses and contact lenses, but this is often not their main interest. The point is that optometrists often have more patience in fitting contact lenses but ophthalmologists are often more comfortable treating complications of contact lenses, especially corneal ulcers.

This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice. Don't use this information to diagnose or develop a treatment plan for a health problem or disease without consulting a doctor. hopes you find this information useful. Feel free to send us your comments at any time.

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