Do your eyes itch or burn when wearing contact lenses? There are several reasons why you may be experiencing contact lens discomfort. Discover the possible causes behind the problem and see what you can do to relieve your discomfort.
What Causes Contact Lens Discomfort?
Some of the top causes of uncomfortable contacts are:
Dry eye syndrome is a common condition that arises when your tears can't keep your eyes sufficiently lubricated due to an imbalance in the tear film. Certain diseases, medications and environmental factors, like high levels of dryness and wind, can cause or contribute to red, itchy or irritated eyes, especially when wearing contacts.
Allergens are typically harmless substances that induce an allergic response in certain people. Pollen, mold, dust and pet dander are some of the most common airborne allergens that trigger eye allergies. Cosmetics and certain eye drops, such as artificial tears with preservatives, can also induce eye allergies, which can make contact lens wear uncomfortable.
The cornea at the front of the eye may be irregularly shaped due to astigmatism, keratoconus, eye surgeries (i.e. LASIK or cataract surgery), eye injuries or burns, scarring, corneal ulcers and/or severe dry eye. Irregular corneas often prevent traditional contact lenses from fitting correctly and comfortably.
Symptoms of Contact Lens Discomfort
- Burning, itchy, stinging eyes
- Sensation of something being stuck is in the eye
- Excessive watering or tearing of the eyes
- Unusual eye secretions
- Redness of the eyes
- Reduced sharpness of vision
- Blurred vision, rainbows, or halos around objects
- Sensitivity to light
How to Relieve Contact Lens Discomfort
Try Different Contact Lenses
Nowadays, there are many types of contact lenses on the market, including specialty contacts for dry eyes and astigmatism. Meet with our optometrist for a personalized eye exam for contacts.
With the variety of contact lens brands available, switching to a different contact lens may be the simplest answer if you're experiencing discomfort that isn't connected to improper fitting or issues with tear production. If your existing lenses fit well but still irritate and dry out your eyes, speak to us about trying a different design or brand of contact lenses, or changing your lens-wearing schedule.
Artificial Tears or Eye Drops
Over-the-counter artificial tears or eye drops are a common way to temporarily relieve contact lens discomfort. However, it's important to keep in mind that unless prescribed by an eye doctor, they may not be treating the root of the problem.
Moreover, certain eye drops are incompatible with contact lenses, and may damage your contacts or harm your eyes. We also recommend staying away from products that claim to remove redness from your eyes, which temporarily reduce the size of blood vessels to lessen redness, but do not address the underlying cause of the condition, and can actually worsen it over time.
Take Good Care of Your Lenses
Inadequate contact lens care leaves residue on your lenses, which can discomfort, harmful eye infections and inflammation. Below are a few important contact lens hygiene guidelines to follow:
- Before handling your contact lenses, thoroughly wash and dry your hands.
- Remove your lenses before showering, bathing or swimming to prevent infection.
- Do not sleep in your contact lenses (unless they are approved for sleeping).
- Replace your contact lenses according to the manufacturer's instructions (e.g., don't reuse daily wear lenses).
- Regularly clean your contact lens case and ask your eye doctor when to replace it.
- Only use a contact lens solution that is appropriate for your lenses.
- Never reuse or mix contact lens solutions.
- Schedule regular appointments with your eye doctor.
If you are experiencing discomfort with your contact lenses, get in touch with University Optometry in Palo Alto today. We'll get to the bottom of the problem and provide effective solutions for all-day comfort.
What kinds of contacts are available?
Contact lenses are available in a wide range of materials and replacement schedules. Disposable contact lenses and extended wear contacts are the most convenient for many users.
I've already been fitted for contact lenses, so why did my optometrist ask me to come back?
If you’re asked to return a week later, it's because your optometrist wants to rule out any issues, such as contact lens-related dry eye or irritation.
If it's been around a year since your last eye checkup, you've likely been contacted to check whether your prescription has changed and to evaluate your eye health. The sooner problems are detected and treated, the better the outcome.